CMO Q&A: Scott Keogh, Audi

Scott Keogh of Audi explains to Aarti Shah why he believes it's a good idea to increase marketing spend during a recession

Scott Keogh of Audi explains to Aarti Shah why he believes it's a good idea to increase marketing spend during a recession.

Has the upheaval with US carmakers impacted Audi's marketing?

Keogh: The direct US automakers are a very different target group and segment from which we compete in. What is important is what has happened to the overall industry, economy, and those types of issues.

The biggest thing for Audi is we went into this economic storm and crisis with confidence and leadership. There are a lot of brands that looked upon this crisis and said, "Cut back your marketing budget, cut back your product development budget, crawl into a hole, wait for things to get better, and come back when it gets better."

Audi did the opposite. We increased our marketing budgets at the beginning of the crisis; we continued our product development budget. We spend approximately €2 billion per year on product development.

How has Audi incorporated value into its messaging during these times?

Keogh: Value didn't go away. Buying into a product that had substance, quality, content, real meaning did not go away. What did go away was this frivolous, over-the-top luxury. There are a lot of brands that got very big on their brand, very big on the logos. They forgot what people are buying when they buy a luxury, quality product. They're not buying over-the-top luxury and that's never been us.

At the Super Bowl, Audi ran an advertisement for its "Green Police" campaign. How have customers reacted?

Keogh: We couldn't be more thrilled. It's our third year in a row at the Super Bowl and this was - by far - our most successful. If you wanted to simplify everything, what this spot and this strategy did is really ignite conver-sation - and that's exactly what you want.

We had 1.6 billion media impressions based on the work with Green Police. The A3 TDI sold out and is selling about 60% of the mix of our A3; we were anticipating it to be 15% to 18%, so the message has grabbed. It was a conversation. It wasn't "run ad, ad's over, and conversation's over." That's what was so great.

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