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Home » News, Social Media News

Campaign of the Week: Audi’s #ProgressIs Super Bowl splash

Submitted by on February 7, 2011 – 1:53 pm8 Comments

Audi, the German luxury car brand, has directly merged old-school advertising with new media, making it the first company to feature a promoted Twitter hashtag in a Super Bowl commercial. While the pundits and public are still divided on the number one Super Bowl spot, we’ve sized up here the newest promoted tweet strategy. Beware. The results may surprise you.

Initial reviews of the Super Bowl commercial line-up put Audi’s somewhere between cute and mediocre. Tech pub I4U News didn’t even mention Audi in their post-show distinguished short-list, and the oft-quoted places Audi’s online impression at number 21 overall, well behind the likes of Ford, Chrysler and Volkswagen.

The creative: The Audi commercial was pretty clever. Called “Release the Hounds” and featuring the easy-listening jazz connoissuer Kenny G, it features two prisoners breaking out from a super-luxurious prison and making a getaway in the new Audi A8 sedan. Their message? Break the confines of old luxury with Audi’s more sleek and modern take. More importantly to us, the spot features the promoted Twitter hashtag #ProgessIs (screenshot below), and Twitter users participating in the hashtag relay automatically entered themselves into an Audi contest with the chance to win a series of swish prizes.

Did it work? Check out the results for #ProgressIs Hashtag Trend:

Audi Twitter Account Followers

In terms of online reception, Audi’s strategy seems to have been a success. The hashtag generated lots of conversation on both Twitter and Audi’s Facebook page, and Audi’s Twitter account saw a 47% increase in followers, today topping 28,000. But notice how the spike in #ProgressIs happened a few days before the Super Bowl actually kicked off. A similar trend can be seen on Audi’s Twitter account. New followers of the account shot up around January 29 and actually leveled off on the day of the big game. What happened? Why is it that Audi got the biggest bang for its buck before the big game?

Audi launched several YouTube teaser videos about a week before the Super Bowl to build up hype for the upcoming commercial. Nothing new there. While they don’t make any mention of the hashtag contest, an official announcement of the hashtag was made in a February 2 press release explaining the sudden, if premature, jump in #ProgressIs activity.

Fine. The teaser videos and the official announcement may have gotten the attention of the geeks, but why did the hashtag fail to inspire much love from Super Bowl viewers? Take a look again at Audi’s commercial.  You can see the hashtag (if you slow it down to a frame-by-frame by sequence). It’s visible only in the last half-second of the spot, and it’s dimly lit in the left bottom hand corner (as the image below shows). Are they trying to be subliminal here?

Few unsuspecting viewers, we’d bet, saw the hashtag in the ad. And if they did, they probably didn’t understand why they should tweet about it. There was no mention of the contest anywhere in the spot.

Final call. All in all, Audi’s merge of promoted hashtags and top-TV commercial time spots was a clever idea, but because of some technicalities, it may have missed its intended target.

Editor’s Note: Social Media Campaign of the Week is a  new feature we will be running here on SMI. If you have what you believe to be a worthy candidate, please email us at Be sure to include contact details on how we can contact the agency behind the effort.


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