Audi’s “femvertising” efforts in driving local relevance

The reality of a new trend

In a climate where topics around diversity and empowerment are being highlighted more often than before and where minority groups are growing into inspirational social communities, new trends in the marketing and communication field emerge. Femvertising, or the use of a female figure or narrative to communicate to fellow consumers as a form of advertising, has become an increasingly relevant and a new style of marketing messaging.

The foundation of a story

Audi, a German brand operating in South Africa, tasked itself to utilise its brand positioning of Vorsprung (roughly translated into advancement)into an opportunity where it could embrace a form of local relevance in the market. A narrative of “Driving Progress” was developed which aligned the brand’s Vorsprung values of advancement, forging ahead and progression. But in order to put this narrative into action, the brand had to actively reposition its communication activities in order to humanise its ethos and to resonate more authentically with its audience. Elements of Femvertising was uniquely suited to this approach and guaranteed that the Audi brand would cut through the male-centric and product-driven marketing clutter endemic to the automotive industry.

This meant that Audi could differentiate itself in a unique way by embracing opportunities where a local interpretation of the Vorsprung messaging could be brought to life. This includes the conversations that the brand has with like-minded influencers; the partnerships that they align with and the stories that they seek to tell.

The Big Ideas

Audi’s local brand story is about “Driving Progress” and to be seen as a champion of South African progress. The two case studies will introduce you to Audi’s version of Femvertising and where two key brand campaigns utilised the efforts of brand marketing, social media partnerships and public relations to drive Audi’s positon around local relevance.

Case study 1: Thando Hopa and Audi Q2 #untaggable campaign

The Audi Q2 (a compact SUV with crossover and sports coupé styling) was launched globally with a #untaggable brand positioning, which celebrated its distinctiveness with a ‘don’t box me’ personality and statement. The global marketing campaign was radically re-shaped for the local South African market by featuring Thando Hopa – the inspirational South African actress, activist, lawyer and model. Audi’s Q2 #untaggable campaign aimed to shed light on what motivates people like Thando to shatter clichéd conventions and create their own identity. Through this campaign, Audi intended to inspire a spirit of ambitious individuality and for people to forge their own path and acquire personal freedom.

The Audi Q2 #untaggable digital campaign featured an edgy, graphical, creative treatment, with Thando’s story at the centre stage. The creative execution feature 80% of Thando’s narrative and only about 20% of the Audi Q2, a distinctive departure from traditional automotive advertising.

The campaign rolled out across social and online media channels while effortlessly allowing for PR opportunities because of its authentic and unique expression. Audi bravely and relevantly positioning itself as an advocate for diversity, gender and identity through this campaign and because the marketing efforts originated from an authentic set of values, the Audi Q2 #untaggable campaign, featuring Thando Hopa worked beyond Audi’s wildest expectations in building a local story for the Audi brand.

Case study 2: Nomzamo Mbatha and the Audi Q model range retail campaign

In an unconventional step for a retail brand campaign (which is ultimately aimed at pushing a financial offer towards purchasing a vehicle), Audi changed up the game on how the sales message was to be received in the market.The brand set out to create a locally relevant story that flipped the script in a way that would resonate with the progressive values of the youthful, aspirational and progressive market, who would be looking to purchase a new SUV, or in this case, one of the Audi Q models in their SUV range.

In a male-dominated automotive environment, Audi broke through the traditional, automotive retail clutter using the disruptive, face and female voice of their brand ambassador, Nomzamo Mbatha. Nomzamo – a globally admired film and television actress, model, humanitarian and activist with an unashamed feminist attitude – led the brand’s nationwide television campaign with an overarching message of, “What would you tell your younger self?”

Nomzamo captivated audiences with an emotional message theme of “progress, optimism, living without regrets” through an expressive voice over to the Audi product story line. Audi went beyond their retail efforts while staying emotionally relevant, so as to inspire, motivate and continue building a Vorsprung message.

In parallel with the TV flighting, Nomzamo also drove the campaign messaging through her social media channels which encouraged a further conversation of “What would you tell your younger self” in the online space. PR editorials ran in prominent South African consumer and lifestyle media, with a powerful “letter to my younger self” from the inspirational brand ambassador.

Nomzamo moved the premium SUV conversation beyond design, specification and price point and appealed directly to consumer’s life purpose and their fundamental values – speaking as much to female car buyers and anyone who values social progress.

The results

Both of the Audi case studies not only received positive awareness and assisted in building the brand’s image and likability in the South African market, it went on to generate sales for the brand and to stretch the automotive conversation beyond mobility.

The true success of both campaigns stemmed not from a calculated “brand positioning” approach, but from an authentic understanding of Audi’s own values of diversity, progress, and personal freedom. It permeated the brand with warmth and humanity and achieved fundamental local relevance by supporting social values, empowerment and progress.