The third marker, I would say, is the most influential of all, yet hardly anyone spots it even though it is staring you in the face. This is the one that arises from Hegarty’s decision not to translate the slogan. By leaving the slogan in the original German he enabled the brand to occupy the position of being not just German, but being uncompromisingly German.
Most foreign cars in the 1980s tried to play down their foreign origins. And in order to demonstrate that their cars were “anglicised,” advertisers used English slogans in their advertising. BMW used the slogan “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” Renault in their 1992 Clio ad used “A certain Style,” and VW in their iconic Princess Diana Golf ad used “If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen.” But Audi, by sticking to their original German slogan, effectively gave out a super-confident message that their cars were German and proud of it, and that they were not prepared to compromise them by changing them in any way. If people wanted a hybrid adapted to their local market then they could buy one of the other marques, but if they wanted the real thing then they should buy an Audi.
This was the case with our early work for Audi, and even by 1983 we were still struggling to establish the Audi’s German heritage in a way that was motivating and memorable. We’d written a number of commercials that were due to air but still needed a hook to tie them together.
I remember, on one of my trips to the Audi factory in Ingolstadt, seeing the line ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ on a fading piece of publicity. When I asked about it our guide dismissed it, saying it was an old line they used in the early 70s.
But it stuck in my mind. When it came to binding our different commercials together I thought, why not use this line? And, importantly, let’s keep it in German. Mad as that sounds…