American Marketer

Events / Causes

Audi crusades against lingering diesel misconceptions in US

November 15, 2013


Audi of America is fighting for a fair, country-wide reevaluation of diesel in the wake of its latest line of TDI vehicles through a series of multichannel campaigns.

The automaker's actions culminated Nov. 13 as it advocated for Audi Clean Diesel Day that tried to purge existing misconceptions about the fuel. By taking an at turns humorous and authoritative approach to the issue, the brand will likely be effective in its efforts to convert consumers over to diesel.

"We notice that attitudes are changing toward modern clean diesel technology like Audi TDI," said Brad Stertz, corporate communications manager at Audi of America, Herndon, VA.

"It is now seen as a legitimate option to address our nation’s fuel consumption and CO2 emissions priorities," he said.

Defrosting the window

To accomplish its goal of creating a friendly atmosphere for diesel vehicles, Audi is taking the simple approach of deploying facts.

The automaker informs fans of its social media pages that diesel vehicles conserve 15 percent more energy, emit less than CO2, require 20 percent fewer stops and have higher torque than gasoline vehicles.

Audi USA Facebook post

Audi suggests that one of the reasons for the paltry presence of diesel vehicles in the U.S. is that the government taxes diesel six cents higher than gasoline.

During the Audi Clean Diesel Day at a 76 filling station in Santa Monica, CA, the brand set aside activities and promotions for consumers of all stripes. Audi diesel drivers received full tanks of diesel, tire dressing, window detailing, pre-bottled pressed green juice, espresso and other options.

Even non-Audi, non-diesel drivers received clean energy bars, information cards, pre-bottled pressed green juice and coffee or espresso.

Audi USA Facebook post

Rather than sitting back, Audi has also conducted studies to observe consumer perceptions in finer detail.

An online poll conducted online in September by Harris Interactive, on behalf of Audi of America, surveyed 2,041 U.S. adults, among whom 1,629 identified themselves as regular drivers.

The poll found that 65 percent of American drivers would support efforts to make diesel more accessible and 66 percent of drivers think the a tax incentive should be offered to increase clean diesel vehicles on the road.

Furthermore, the poll backed Audi's assumption that diesel is unfairly positioned by the government. Fifty-seven percent of respondents believed that the government unfairly values hybrids and electrics over clean diesel vehicles.

Interestingly, 59 percent of respondents ages 18-34 said they would drive a clean diesel vehicle if the cost of diesel fuel was equivalent to gasoline, while 39 percent of respondents 45 and above said the same.

Audi of America sought to shatter the misconceptions surrounding diesel vehicles with a 60-second television spot that depicts a new Audi A8 L TDI in a comical web of misunderstanding.

The automaker’s far-reaching campaign encompasses television, print, digital and social media and strives to dispel myths and reinforce the benefits of clean diesel such as range, efficiency and power. Audi is likely to accomplish its intended goal by relying on humor’s ability to deflate stubborn views (see st0ry).

Smart investment

Audi continues to bolster its record of innovative and community-conscious investments.

For instance, the automaker is enlisting 12 United States undergraduates for a six-week practicum in the summer of 2014 to investigate how mobility will evolve in the coming decades.

Major cities around the world are experiencing increasing population density that place a strain on public and private resources, especially transportation. The U.S. undergraduates will explore ideas that address how automobiles will adapt to the stressed infrastructure and shifting availability of resources (see story).

Outdoors public initiatives can help Audi to influence large groups of consumers who can then act as brand ambassadors to inform other consumers about diesel's benefits.

"[There was] a range of activities that took place at our 'Diesel Day' filling station takeover at a 76 station in Santa Monica, CA," Mr. Stertz said.

Final take
Joe McCarthy, editorial asssitant on Luxury Daily, New York