American Marketer


Audi taps Tom Brady for Best Buddies sponsorship

June 6, 2011


audi-tom-brady-185German automaker Audi used New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to link itself to participants and supporters of the KickOff 2011 Audi Best Buddies Challenge last weekend.

The two-day event June 3 – 4 started with The Tom Brady Football Challenge & Michael Schlow Celebrity Chef Tailgate Party at Harvard Stadium, where the NFL star led a flag football game. The second day consisted of the 12th Annual Audi Best Buddies charity walk, run and ride.

“Our founder, August Horch, once said, ‘A dream worth having, is a dream worth pursuing,’” said Anja Kaehny, manager of lifestyle communication and corporate social responsibility of Audi of America, Herndon, VA. “It is that pioneering spirit of innovation and making visions come true that Best Buddies and Audi have in common and that provides a strong link of our organizations.

“Building friendships seems to be a simple idea, but was revolutionary at the time and has proven to change people’s lives tremendously,” he said. “Tom Brady has been a supporter for Best Buddies and advocate for the cause for many years, sharing this belief of friendship and its power of change.”

Best Buddies is a global non-profit organization whose volunteers help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure jobs and live on their own.

Brady bunch

Audi expected more than 1,500 individuals to participate in the challenges this weekend.

Mr. Brady will serve for the fourth time as honorary chairman. This is also Audi’s fourth year of title sponsor.

The football challenge and tailgate party kicked off the festivities June 3.

Mr. Brady led a tag football game with Best Buddies supporters and participants.

Also present were Patriot teammates Tedy Bruschi, Tully Banta-Cain, Julian Edelman, and Dan Koppen and Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely.

After the game, celebrity chef Michael Schlow hosted a tailgate party with Best Buddy participants as sous chefs.

To continue the weekend, hundreds of walkers, runners and cyclists participated in different routes and events that benefitted Best Buddies.

There was a 100-mile ride from Boston to Hyannis Port, MA and 50- and 20-mile cycling routes.

Olympic gold-medalist Carl Lewis led a 5K run and a 3K walk.


Audi’s relationship with Best Buddies started in 2007.

The automaker has given $36 million in total donations, and Audi dealers and partners have added $350,000 at joint regional events.

“Corporate responsibility is a key component of Audi’s corporate culture,” Ms. Kaehny said. “We firmly believe in giving back, both on a corporate and personal level.

“That is why we have not only strived to support Best Buddies’ national fundraising event through financial contributions, but also to engage our employees, dealers and partners,” she said.

Audi has even brought in Best Buddy interns and employees to work at its Herndon headquarters.

Many luxury brands are using charity sponsorships to boost their connection with consumers.

In fact, writing instrument maker Montblanc supported Best Buddies by donating 11 percent of its March proceeds to the organization (see story).

Many experts find that partnering with organizations and ambassadors that consumers can make connections with is the most likely way to relate to them.

Since automakers generally target young males, Tom Brady and Best Buddies seems a likely connection for the brand.

“Our partnership with Best Buddies is one that unites a whole variety of project and initiatives and the opportunity to get engaged on national, regional and local level,” Ms. Kaehny said. “What all our CSR initiatives do have in common is the fact that Audi gets very involved.

“We always strive to act as a true partner: supporting with manpower, exchanging knowledge and providing content,” she said.

Final Take

Rachel Lamb, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York