Magazine article Marketing

The Apple of Audi's Eye

Magazine article Marketing

The Apple of Audi's Eye

Article excerpt

The apple of Audi's eye

On the storyboard the shot doesn't look too difficult. The road is seen from the roof of the new Audi 100. As the car enters a tunnel, the camera descends through the car's roof to focus on the startled eyes of the driver.

The story as such is meant to reflect the safety of the all-new car. As an unseen disaster approaches, the driver's life flashes on screen, all seems lost but then the car, with driver intact, emerges from the other side of the tunnel. Vorsprung durch Technik saves the day again.

But on a miserable April Tuesday in the mountains to the South-east of Salzburg sweat, toil and even tears are being shed to turn the scribbled storyboard into a glossy Bartle Bogle Hegarty commercial.

Marketing had been warned the previous evening that the tight schedule, the obligatory clashing egos and the ambitious content of the commercial would lead to a rather fraught atmosphere.

"There can be a certain amount of . . . tension on a shoot, you know," warned BBH account director Matthew Melhuish. "That's perfectly natural. In fact whatever happens it's perfectly natural. Perfectly natural," he added in a perfectly natural but desperate manner.

The unfortunate German actor who stars in the shot has his head cocked in a most unnatural manner. He is looking in his wing mirror in a fashion designed to be accessible to the camera. His eyes are all you will see of him when the advertisement breaks on national TV next Wednesday (May 15). But according to his make-up artist Liz those orbs will sell cars: "His eyelashes go all the way from here to the moon," she says.

"Not hurting too much is it?" booms the first assistant director. "Just stay in that position for the next few hours and you'll be alright".

Meanwhile the assorted technicians on hand are feverishly trying to fix the 20,000 [pounds] periscope camera that the shot requires. Despite being tested thoroughly in London the camera (one of only two in the world, a bystander claimed) is beyond repair. So they attach the ordinary full-size camera to the crane instead. The question is will it fit through the sun roof? The answer is yes, by the proverbial gnat's whisker.

Audi's public relations manager Edward Rowe can't resist the opportunity to break into "press release-ese": "Don't forget that the new car's sun roof is 20% bigger," he confides to Marketing.

The camera has to be carried on a separate truck, which meant that the two vehicles have to travel at exactly the same speed to ensure its smooth entry through the sunroof. Rather than employ two (expensive) stunt drivers the crew's mechanic, known to all as "Nobbie", simply wires the two together.

The resulting contraption owes more to Heath Robinson than world-beating German engineering. Nobbie is a little concerned that the lights stuck onto the door windows might cause the glass to fracture. "But if that happens we'd simply rip off the door and replace it with one from the two other cars we've got". He also reveals that not all the cars are the 26,000 [pounds] Audi Quattro. It's cheaper to stick Quattro badges on the standard models, apparently.

At last all the nuts have been tightened and joints tweaked and filming can start. The time is 1.00 pm. The crew had arrived at the location at 6.00 am. The Heath Robinson-mobile is driven at a stately 25 mph into the tunnel, with the film crew clinging on like leeches. As the car enters the tunnel, the camera swoops smoothly down to catch the startled eyes. …

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