Viral Video Brand Permission

In this soon to be viral video an electric mower drags guy across a yard, into the street and then in front of a truck. The only thing else the video does is super impose the website address http://www.electricityuntamed.com which redirects to http://www.audiusa.com . There you get a slick presentation on electricity facts and a countdown clock to 9/15/09 that leads you to believe that Audi is coming out with an electric car. Audi is using a cheesy funny viral video to drive traffic to their website and there's nothing wrong with that. But there is a disconnect for me. I own a luxury car but I want an electric car. I like the look of the Audi Q7 SUV. I like viral videos. I am the perfect consumer to want an electric car from Audi. What's not working for me with this video? Brand permission. A brand is a promise. The Audi brand has a promise of luxury. Their website looks luxurious. Their cars look luxurious. But this viral video looks like a beer commercial. In the 1990's Ford came out with the Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer package and sold many of those cars because they had brand permission. Although I've never seen one, I have been told that Ford also created a Ford Explorer with a MTV Package. That car did not sell in the US nor was it meant to but I have been told it did very well in Brazil where it had brand permission. Does Audi have brand to make a luxury electric car? Absolutely. Does Audi have brand permission to make this viral video? Well, I think Audi has as about as much brand permission of doing this viral video as they do in sponsoring an episode of French Maid TV. It makes no sense and it cheapens their brand. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a fun viral video. I just don't think it's right for Audi. Now if it had been done for a car brand that was targeted at a younger crowd I think it might have brand permission and be a brand fit. What do you think and have you seen any other brand disconnects in viral videos?
  • http://www.UnleashVideo.com Jeremy Campbell

    I agree that it’s funny and a video that could go viral but like you said Tim it has no direct link to Audi’s brand at all. In fact I can’t think of one brand where this video would make sense?!

    I don’t remember other brand disconnects in viral videos but see them every day on TV!

  • http://www.hollywoodmacguru.com Matthew Arevalo

    They are on a recent path to show how electric cars are ‘for idiots’ as one of their execs was quoted as saying. They want to push diesel and this viral is to basically mock electric powered cars:

    “He dismissed GM’s upcoming plug-in hybrid as “a car for idiots,” saying that few consumers will be willing to pay $40,000 — the Volt’s estimated base price — for a car that competes against $25,000 sedans and conventional hybrids. Nor, he noted, is the Volt a luxury car whose green-technology costs will be excused because it also delivers prestige or performance.

    “No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla,” he said. “So there are not enough idiots who will buy it.”

  • Pat

    If you take a look at the other videos, you’ll notice that none of them are related to Audi. That’s the point. If you notice, the central theme is “high powered” electricity. They’re meant to just be videos to make you laugh or make you think. They aren’t used to improve their brand like a commercial would like the R8 Superbowl Commercial.

    There are rumors that the countdown is for their debut of an electric powered R8 meant to compete with the new Mercedes-Benz SLS eDrive that’s supposed to be coming out. That would at least go with the idea of the lawn power being powerfully fast and with them choosing that as their primary video to be shown on their website.

    I really can’t see how this is mocking electric powered cars, Matthew. Maybe instead of just making assumptions and listening to others you should actually visit the website and make a judgment for yourself.

  • http://www.hollywoodmacguru.com Matthew Arevalo

    The ‘others’ I was listening to was the President of Audi. I’m sorry I forgot the link:

    http://jalopnik.com/5351770/audi-president-thinks-chevy-volt-buyers-are-idiots

    I find it very hard to believe that they would be coming out with an electric vehicle when he makes statements like:

    “Mass electrification” of the vehicles on American roads could lead to problems like a strained electric grid. Large-scale utilization of electric vehicles will require massive investment in new power stations that are much cleaner than the ones in use in the U.S. today.”

    So, I stand by my opinion that Audi is not promoting electric vehicles at all, certainly not from them.

    You can read the rest of the comment the Audi President made at this link:

    http://editorial.autos.msn.com/blogs/autosblogpost.aspx?post=1247701

    Other nuggets are:

    “And that policy decisions – and the industry’s reactions to those decisions – are leading us toward a technology that may sound tempting on the surface, but, as of now, also contains many deep and unsolved economic and technological compromises.”

    Still think a countdown to an electric powered R8 is coming out?

    I visited a website, audiusanews.com

    Their focus? Clean diesel. So tell me why their President would be so critical about electric vehicles and these viral videos would not be mocking them and be for some rumored launch?

  • http://www.hollywoodmacguru.com Matthew Arevalo

    I just don’t get why the President would be saying one thing and they’d have a site saying another is all. Maybe you’re right, maybe we’re both right, maybe we’re both wrong. My point is, what a mix of messages going around, they need to get their act together.

    Though, his comments could be made for just this reason, to stir up conversation. Maybe the point is, ‘mass electrification’ isn’t the best idea, but a fancy high end Audi that is a luxury, limited purchased vehicle is just the ticket :P

    I don’t know.

  • Tim Street

    I’m thinking any car company would be crazy not to be thinking about coming out with an electric car but I’m not a car expert. Just an online video producer.

  • http://stevegarfield.com steve garfield

    What’s funny to me is that when you watch the embedded video, the URL at the end of hte video is unreadable.

    Image:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevegarfield/3901238573/

    When you watch it on YouTube, you can make out the URL AND can click on the URL in the video’s description.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Jj8_87VDHc

  • Pat

    If you take a look at the other videos, you'll notice that none of them are related to Audi. That's the point. If you notice, the central theme is “high powered” electricity. They're meant to just be videos to make you laugh or make you think. They aren't used to improve their brand like a commercial would like the R8 Superbowl Commercial.

    There are rumors that the countdown is for their debut of an electric powered R8 meant to compete with the new Mercedes-Benz SLS eDrive that's supposed to be coming out. That would at least go with the idea of the lawn power being powerfully fast and with them choosing that as their primary video to be shown on their website.

    I really can't see how this is mocking electric powered cars, Matthew. Maybe instead of just making assumptions and listening to others you should actually visit the website and make a judgment for yourself.