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Audi promotes sustainability with online honeybee preservation project

May 13, 2015

Audi's HOBOS project will promote honeybee sustainability efforts Audi's HOBOS project will promote honeybee sustainability efforts


German automaker Audi is playing an active role in environmental sustainability by funding honeybee preservation efforts, including the Honeybee Online Studies project.

HOBOS offers students, teachers and honeybee enthusiasts an unparalleled opportunity to observe daily life in a honeybee hive using advanced technology to share a live video transmission that can be viewed online. Audi’s commitment to preserving the honeybee population shows consumers that the brand is engaged in the community and ready to take a stand for social good.

"I fail to see how this will contribute one dime to Audi’s bottom line," said Rob Frankel, branding expert at marketing consultancy firm Frankel & Anderson, Los Angeles. "It’s certainly not going to sell more Audis.

"There’s a reason that people buy Audis, and honeybees is not one of them. This is about as relevant as selling toilet paper to elephants.

"Sounds like it’s doing something, but it’s not doing anything."

Mr. Frankel is not affiliated with Audi, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Audi was unable to respond by press deadline.

Don’t worry, bee happy
Scientists including Albert Einstein have suggested that if the honeybee population were to be eliminated humans would not be able to survive longer than 4 years on planet Earth. The bees are responsible for pollinating flowering plants that maintain the fragile ecosystem and provide humans with food.

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HOBOS cameras film the hives without disturbing the honeybees

In recent years honeybee colonies have experienced colony collapse disorder in which an unprecedentedly high number of adult worker bees die of unknown causes. Researchers are working to determine what causes colony collapse disorder and how to best prevent it from occurring.

Audi’s HOBOS project will facilitate honeybee observation and offer educators a unique way to inspire students about this important species. By spreading information about honeybees and their hives, Audi can inspire younger generations to take action to prevent widespread death and extinction.

The HOBOS project uses an array of cameras and sensors to record the inner workings of beehives without disturbing the bees, thus allowing for more accurate observations. At the moment the project is focusing on a hive in Würzburg, Germany and broadcasting the footage online.

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Footage from the cameras show the inside of the hive in detail

Audi hopes that HOBOS will attract more students to study the “MINT” subjects (Mathematics, Informatics, Natural Science, Technology) and possible lead to future careers in these industries. The video footage can be viewed online at

While is important for the brand to connect with consumers, it is unlikely that this project will have any direct affect on product purchases.

"This is pointless, ineffective and a waste of time," Mr. Frankel said. "It does nothing for Audi’s brand, and most importantly it does nothing for the honeybees.

"It is politically correct feel-good nonsense from PR firms who know nothing about branding."

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Cameras show the outside of the honeybee hive in Germany

The bees knees
Bee preservation is an essential element of environmental sustainability that has gained publicity in recent years. A number of luxury brands have begun to initiate efforts to increase awareness and fund scientific research.

For example, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts increased its commitment to bee preservation with an expanded “Bee Hotel” at its Royal York hotel in Toronto.

The existential threat posed on many fronts to bees has been widely discussed and has sparked a rescue effort by many interested parties. Fairmont intends to spur further action by emphasizing that bees need more land, hence the hotel, in addition to cleaner environments (see story).

Targeting programs to appeal to younger generations is a great way to ensure that a cause will attract the talent and commitment necessary to find solutions.

Audi is one of a number of luxury automakers that have taken on the challenge of promoting environmental sustainability among students.

In 2013, Toyota Corp.’s Lexus encouraged students to devise creative solutions for environmental problems with the possibility of winning a share of $500,000 in grants and scholarships.

The Lexus Eco Challenge called for students in the United States to develop strategies in response to land and water or air and climate issues. Through this initiative the brand demonstrated its investment in the future of the environment and science by supporting young scientists (see story).

Audi's HOBOS project will also work to encourage students to learn more about environmental science and sustainability. Nevertheless, the brand could have chosen a cause that was more relevant to its own product.

"If I’m an environmentally aware person who cares about automotive performance I might feel better if I knew I wasn’t spewing heavy diesel fuels into the environment," Mr. Frankel said. "This is what you are seeing happen with Tesla. This is the way to go.

"People who are focusing on cars do not care about honeybees."

Final Take
Kay Sorin, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York

1 thought on “Audi promotes sustainability with online honeybee preservation project”

  1. Soumya Jain says:

    I quite agree with Mr Frankel – this project is probably doing nothing for the brand and nothing for the honeybees…but then, kudos to Audi for thinking out-of-the-box! I don\’t think any other brand would have gone that far to find such a cause…specially when most look for \”grander\” causes…