By Barry Janoff
March 6, 2015: Audi of America is hitting Spring 2015 in a big way, including a multi-media campaign for the 2016 Audi A6 and a major commitment to become the new automotive partner for Major League Soccer.
In what was called a "landmark" alliance, Audi and MLS have signed multi-year partnership making the car company the league's official automotive partner.
Audi replaces Volkswagen, which held the position since 2008, that season replacing Honda.
The deal coincides with the kickoff of the 2015 MLS season, the league's 20th campaign, this weekend and includes presence in such jewel events as the AT&T All-Star Game and as presenting sponsor of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Support will include multi-media marketing across the league and with media partners. A launch spot, "The Game," breaks during season-opening games on ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision Deportes.
In "The Game," shots of MLS action are accompanied by text including "Hail the Game, Respect the Game, Curse the Game, Suffer the Game, Praise the Game, Conquer the Game and Champion the Game."
The spot will be updated throughout the season with "key moments that transpire over the upcoming months and with real fan footage captured in stadiums around the country," according to Audi.
Audi, which already has partnerships with MLS clubs Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers FC through local dealerships and a global footprint that includes Real Madrid and FC Bayern Munich sponsorships, said it would continue to bulls its MLS and MLS club deals.
Audi said that its partnership with MLS, which the company describes as having "the highest percentage of millennial audience of any major U.S. sport," enabling it to target a "diverse, passionate and fast-growing audience that aligns with the brand’s strategy of reaching the next generation of millennial buyers."
“Audi’s partnership with MLS parallels the aggressive, challenger spirit of the two brands,” Loren Angelo, director of marketing for Audi of America, said in a statement. “Audi remains committed to soccer and raising the profile of the game in the United States. Last year the league’s attendance hit an all-time high. As a major supporter of the sport globally, we’re looking forward to cultivating the enthusiasm of soccer stateside and driving participation of the sport in a new way.”
In addition to TV, Audi marketing will include in-stadium signage and fan activations, player appearances, Internet, social media and POP.
Audi joins a national MLS marketing roster that includes adidas, Allstate, AT&T, EA Sports, Heineken, The Home Depot, Kraft, Panasonic, Wells Fargo and Microsoft.
Audi's deal nearly was waylaid by a potential player walkout, which was averted when MLS and the players' union agreed to a five-year collective bargaining deal. Among other assets, it creates free agency for players 28 or older who have a minimum of eight years experience and a minimum salary of $60,000, according to industry analysts.
Audi is also launching a campaign for the 2016 Audi A6 sedan, including national and cable TV, print, Internet, social media and event sponsorship to highlight the "purposeful technology and smart interface of the new Audi A6.
Audi's new tagline for 2015: “Challenge All Givens.”
According to Angelo, “’Challenge All Givens’ captures the spirit the brand has lived by for well over a century. Audi has always believed that to move the world forward, we must challenge convention. This is evident in our engineering breakthroughs as well as our attention to design, none of which have ever adhered to status quo.”
A national spot for the A6 Sedan, “The Drones,” channel's Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie, The Birds, showing, according to Audi, how the "advanced technology in the new Audi A6 is the opposite of daunting." The spot ends with text, “Advanced technology doesn’t have to be intimating.”
“The Drones” will air on CBS, NBC, AMC, ABC and FX. Support includes print and online ads on such Web sites as The New York Times, Forbes, The Onion, ESPN and Wired.
A regional spot, “Teenager” showcases the social media capabilities of the car through a story of a father and daughter going on a drive.
Audi has ramped up its domestic support for soccer over the past year. Last July, the company hosted it’s first U.S. Audi Football Summit, which featured FC Bayern Munich versus Club Deportivo Guadalajara in Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
“We are excited to welcome Audi to the MLS family,” Gary Stevenson, president and managing director for MLS Business Ventures, said in a statement. “Audi is an elite brand that is committed to helping the sport of soccer grow in North America and we look forward to partnering with them for many years to come.”
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