He wants a Chihuahua. She wants a Doberman. Ultimately, the couple compromises, mixing both, and the result is the Doberhuahua, a tiny new breed of dog with an oversized head and an aggressive attitude. Soon, everyone has to have one, and the breed is everywhere. But these pups are a menace, wreaking havoc at dog shows and scaring kids on their trikes. One of the dogs even tries to eat poor Sarah McLachlan’s guitar when all she is trying to do is make a PSA promoting understanding and acceptance of the Doberhauhua.
This is the scenario played out in Audi’s Super Bowl XLVIII spot "Doberhuahua" promoting the Audi A3. A teaser was shared online last week, and the entire spot was released online a week in advance of its debut during the game.
"Compromise scares us too," the spot concludes, turning its focus to Audi’s latest luxury vehicle. "The all-new Audi A3. Designed without compromise."
"We look every year to try to find a smart story that really can connect with America. As a premium, luxury brand in the U.S., my goal is to be able to tell a story that all of America can associate with but still holds true to what Audi stands for," says Loren Angelo, director of marketing for Audi of America. "When we looked at what we had this year, our new Audi A3 introduction, we had a car that has the engineering of Audi at an entry-level premium price-point. There are no compromises that come with this car—no compromises in its design, the interior or the engineering. So that was the foundation of this idea—no compromises."
Compromise can be good, of course. But Audi and its agency Venables Bell & Partners sought to find a situation involving compromise that just doesn’t work out so well, and that’s how dogs—and our obsession with concocting new breeds—came into the picture.
There was a lot of debate about what would make for the weirdest and funniest blend of dog breeds. "We really wanted to go with something that was a real dichotomy, something that would be so farfetched that it would reach a level of exaggeration," Angelo says. And, well, you can’t get much wackier than a Chihuahua and a Doberman, though surely a breeder somewhere will try.
The dog-centric Super Bowl spot will be supported via a social campaign, also launching a week in advance of the game. Audi claims to be the first Super Bowl advertiser to attach a hashtag to a Super Bowl spot (#ProgressIs for "Luxury Prison" back in 2011), encouraging conversation on Twitter prior to, during and after the game, and the brand will do so again this year with #StayUncompromised, based on the "no compromise" strategy promoted in "Doberhuahua."
New this year will be Audi’s use of Snapchat on Super Bowl weekend. According to Angelo, Snapchat will be used to share witty tidbits on Super Bowl Sunday about the other things happening that day relating to everything from pop culture to weather to news so that football fans won’t have to make any compromises when it comes to keeping up with the rest of the world and immersing themselves in the Super Bowl bubble.
Brands like Taco Bell and 16 Handles have used the photo-sharing app, but, overall, advertisers have been slow to harness the potential of Snapchat, launched in 2011, perhaps because images posted have a short shelf life. But Audi is interested in experimenting with and testing the potential of social media, especially at Super Bowl time when people are watching the game and interacting with second screens, says Angelo, noting, "Social platforms are the best way for continuing to connect."
Looking at Audi’s overall marketing strategy, this year’s Super Bowl work is indicative of how the brand has evolved over the years. It wasn’t that long ago that Audi used the Super Bowl to announce itself as a luxury brand. "Really, it was the Super Bowl back in 2008 where we drew a line in the sand and said, ‘There is a new luxury player in the marketplace,' " Angelo says. That was the year that Audi made its mark with "Godfather," which spoofed the famous horse head scene from the movie.
Since establishing itself, Audi has gone on to challenge what is construed as traditional luxury in the U.S. market in recent years, positioning the brand as offering advanced technology—like its Matrix LED lighting system—that elevates luxury to a new level. "We have to be clear about what sets the brand apart," Angelo says.