CMO

AUDI releases virtual car drive during COVID-19 isolation

Car brand CMO on going slow and how to stay relevant to customers in a time of uncertainty and change

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has seen people around the world confined to their homes, luxury car brand Audi has created The Drive, a slow TV virtual drive.

It follows a road journey of an Audi A6 sedan over four hours to offer something for people following government mandates to stay home. The brand has also announced it’s prioritising vehicle servicing for essential workers through its dealerships and has a dedicated section on its website with the latest official information.     

AUDI Australia chief customer and marketing officer, Nikki Warburton, told CMO in the frantic climate of the pandemic the business wanted to offer something with a sense of tranquility and wellbeing which would help while people are self-isolating.

“It’s an immersive road journey through breathtaking Australian landscapes and can be enjoyed by everyone, not just car enthusiasts, from the confines of their own home,” she said.       

When it comes to how Audi’s marketing approach has had to change because of the enormous disruptions created by the pandemic, Warburton said it’s altered the media channel mix to stay relevant and continue to build connections with audiences.

And with 27 new models that were set to be launched in 2020, it’s required re-imagining and re-configuring all communications, both internal and external, as it shifts everything to a virtual environment.

“The PR launches and training, for example, are migrating to more online experiences and platforms. We’re also looking at the customer journey and how we best connect online and offline for a seamless experience for customers to continue to build brand desire,” she explained to CMO.

Longer term, when it comes to understanding how this episode may have altered customer connections with brands and the role of marketing with brand messaging, Warburton said it’s about finding ways to continue “to add value in the new normal”.

“With changes in consumer behaviours and attitudes, it’s essential for brands to recognise and understand the new needs of customers,” she said.

Warburton believes times of adversity do also present opportunities for brands to test and learn and innovate in the customer journey. But the need to be relevant remains, and is actually enhanced, in times of upheaval and uncertainty.

Customers are looking for leadership and validation in brand choice so it’s more important than ever for brands to act responsibly to ensure they maintain a connection and relevance to their customers.”

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