Audi's hatchback, the A3, was a hit in Europe, especially since it was more fuel efficient. Audi reasoned it would be just as successful here. However, no luxury hatchback had been able to thrive in the United States. This car launch had to be a success.
The idea for the campaign came began to take shape after we learned that an Audi was used in one of the most successful art heists in Europe. This campaign became one of Audi’s most successful car launches ever.
The campaign kicked off with the theft of the first A3 in the United States from the Audi showroom on Park Avenue. This surveillance tape was released on the Web documenting the action. It soon went viral receiving millions of hits.
Once the damage was “discovered,” signs were posted, and employees handed out WANTED flyers. People on the street took these cell phone pictures and actually called the NYPD.
The next day, at the New York International Auto Show, missing signs went up in place of the A3 on the main stage.
The signs were seen by thousands of visitors at the Auto Show and kicked off the entire campaign. We received thousands of phone calls within hours, and hundreds of blogs and news organizations across the world picked up the story.
Purposely rough in appearance, this national television spot ran the next day. The response from this spot crashed Audi's servers and overwhelmed their call centers.
Billboards also appeared all over the country, this time with a URL, directing consumers deeper into the action. This billboard appeared in Times Square
The URL on all of the communication led participants back to the campaign Web sites. The sites provided background to the story line while detailing all of the action in real time. They also contained these hidden films that explained the entire story.
By watching all of the the films, participants learned that plans for the largest art heist in history were stored in the car’s GPS system. This was the first of the eight films to appear.
In another of the films, Nisha Roberts, the heroine of the story, finds and interrogates the art forger who was helping to plan the heist.
In the end, Nisha catches the goons behind the entire heist and gets them to talk. They reveal the entire plan leading to the final act of the entire campaign where Nisha recovers the stolen A3 and returns it to Audi.