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The billboard war: our take

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In the history of marketing and hype there have been some titanic rivals: Coke vs. Pepsi, Microsoft vs. Apple, Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier and now Audi vs. BMW.

Audi has already gone on the offensive within the last few months to show that it has every intention of fighting the established luxury brands with it’s Meet the Beckers commercial as well as the very overt, direct Superbowl commercials for the 2008 and 2009 Superbowls. Those commercials, coupled with anouncements of Audi’s intent to reach 1,000,000 sales for 2008 and stretch far beyond that reflect the deep dedication Audi has to taking its competitors on directly.

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Within the last few weeks, an intersection in Santa Monica, California has taken the rivalry between BMW and Audi to a whole new level and spread across the internet at an incredible rate. Audi posted a billboard with the new B8 A4 stating “Your move, BMW.” In a clever attempt at both humor and one-upping Audi, BMW of Santa Monica posted a larger billboard with an E92 M3 simply stating “Checkmate.” 

All it took once a simple picture being posted of the two opposing to ignite the debate across the internet: who is better? Audi or BMW?

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Well, Audi wanted to gather input as its best course of action to take in responding to an M3 claiming checkmate over the A4 by recruiting fan photoshops via Facebook while it posted an actual third billboard of the R8 stating “Check your luxury baggage. It may have expired.” Many, many fans came up with very creative and thoughtful billboard ideas, but, alas the BMW ad expired and was removed before further retorts could be put up.

We at 4RingBlog wanted to wait before posting an opinion on this to see how most of it would play out. We have seen the various opinions across auto news websites and web forums with responses ranging from fanboy-ish to angry, offensive responses to those who found the humor in the small campaigns by both companies. It seemed to bring out a unbelievable amount of interest in the car fan world of the world wide web – a viral campaign that played out for one week across the webpages and web forums as BMW and Audi went back and forth to see who could up the ante over one intersection in California.

Our thoughts on this epic ping pong-esque marketing game are that we only hope everyone can find the humor in it – like we do. BMW has a reputation for being quite clever as a company that can take itself seriously but still enjoy less than serious marketing. It seems that Audi could be taking the same approach to it’s marketing too with the cheeky, in-your-face approach of it’s Superbowl ads and Meet the Beckers videos. This sort of competition is a good thing, only highlighting the rivalry of BMW and Mercedes Benz now shifting to a rivalry of BMW and Audi, a true sign that perhaps Audi has arrived at the wider acceptance and appeal it has long sought after. Does that mean that Audi is the new upstart to BMW that the Bavarian firm once was to Mercedes? Perhaps, time will tell as the boys in Ingolstadt continue to toil away, refining their already wonderful vehicles. 

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However, as stated previously, we hope that fans, instead of taking a harder, cynical look at this, can appreciate what’s been provided to us. Entertaining, very public, very creative banter between two giants in a fiercely contested market. In our mind, neither BMW nor Audi have won, but the fans of both companies as this sort of competition can only breed new and more exciting ways for these Teutonic titans to try and impress us. We say, bring it on.