Shell, Audi partner on PR to rev up diesel's reputation

HOUSTON: Shell and Audi are promoting diesel this year in a joint PR effort that includes Shell media roundtables and a cross-promotional relationship promoting the Audi Sport racer R10, a diesel-powered formula car capable of competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans road race.

HOUSTON: Shell and Audi are promoting diesel this year in a joint PR effort that includes Shell media roundtables and a cross-promotional relationship promoting the Audi Sport racer R10, a diesel-powered formula car capable of competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans road race.

Shell launched its effort early this month with a series of roundtable media events in Detroit during the North American International Auto Show, touting Shell's position as a company committed to future fuels like cellulose ethanol, bio-diesel, and hydrogen.

Jennifer Cortez, director of PR for Audi, said the R10 racer will be promoted at US Formula racing events, such as Sebring, and car shows, with advertising highlighting the car and Audi's diesel lineup.

While diesel is common in Europe, as well as in trucks in the US, currently VW, Chrysler, and Mercedes make the only diesel cars sold in the US. Cortez said VW sibling Audi wants to change a decades-old misconception among many consumers that diesel cars are smoky, clanky, stinkpots.

"[Diesel] is something we have considered in the US for many years, and with the arrival of the R10, which brings more interest, we will hopefully show diesel is clean and high-performance. It is the epitome of low-end torque," said Cortez. "It's about overcoming negative consumer perceptions."

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