Audi Shoots for Younger Drivers With March Madness Promo

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Audi, the lead car brand in the Volkswagen portfolio, is sponsoring the College Hoops mobile Web channel of AvantGo as part of a larger corporate branding and lead-generating campaign focused on the men's NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Starting today, Audi's content channel around "March Madness" also gets support from broadcast and print advertising.

"The goal is to increase Audi's visibility amongst a hard-to-reach audience of young, educated, tech-savvy business professionals with impressive buying power through AvantGo's medium," said Chris Walsh, group media head at McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, NC.

AvantGo, a Dublin, CA, subsidiary of Sybase Inc.'s iAnywhere Inc., is a free service delivering rich, customized mobile Web sites to handheld personal digital assistants and smart phones. The sites are accessed wirelessly and through sync-and-go connectivity.

More than 2,500 brands, including The New York Times, Rolling Stone magazine, CNET and American Airlines, use AvantGo to target 10 million users. Users typically are men ages 25-50. Many of these tech-savvy early adopters lead active lifestyles and are sports enthusiasts.

The latest deal comes a year after Audi last spring worked with AvantGo to create a PDA showroom for its Audi A8 model, with interior and exterior images and specifications. The availability of the online showroom content was pushed to AvantGo users through banner and splash ads on the device home page.

Sourced from Sporting News, another AvantGo partner, the new Audi March Madness channel will offer handheld-device owners the latest news, tournament brackets, television schedules and statistics through March.

The channel also will have images, features and specifications on various Audi vehicles. Where appropriate, the company's new tagline -- "Never Follow" -- will run.

In a clear database-building aim, the call to action is for users to send their e-mail address for more information on Audi vehicles.

"Affinity or event marketing mobile content such as this is still relatively new," said James Ryan, editorial director of AvantGo. "However, we're seeing more and more interest from marketers, particularly the auto companies, because of the great response rates and the high level of interactivity this medium provides."

Research has shown that the typical Audi customer follows the tournament closely. This makes sponsorship of the College Hoops channel a conduit for promoting Audi's brand to its core audience.

AvantGo is a veteran of mobile Web content efforts for automakers. Besides Audi, it has created PDA showrooms using existing Web-based vehicle information for Volkswagen, General Motors Corp. and its Chevrolet trucks, DaimlerChrysler, Ford Motor Co. and BMW.

It has done auto-show promotions with GM. And there are other affinity marketing initiatives like the Honda CRV-sponsored snow report, Mountain Bike Trail Guide channel and numerous branding or lead-generation campaigns for Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Volvo, Mazda and Subaru.

AvantGo has six to eight promotions running at any time, including two to three auto ones on its device home page. A Subaru Legacy banner campaign and the Honda CRV effort are running now.

AvantGo clients usually start with a branding or lead-generating banner campaign. They graduate to a PDA showroom or another marketing channel. Once satisfied, they extend into more complex consumer interactions through affinity or event marketing channels, finally moving into customer relationship marketing.

"For an auto channel, this might evolve into an owner channel," Ryan said. "We're seeing the beginning of this transition with Audi as a result of their earlier campaigns in this medium."


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