Loren Angelo, VP Marketing at Audi of America, discusses the
automotive marque’s ability to appeal to future generations through
like-minded partnerships, communicating values and a large dose
of Vorsprung durch Technik.

To what extent has a Next Generation positioning been important
to Audi in the US during recent times?
We’ve always positioned Audi for the next generation of progressive
leaders. We target individuals who have that passion for the latest
in innovation and design, and who are looking for those more
substantive brand stories. The Next Generation approach drives
our thinking as a brand.

Positioning Audi as the progressive luxury choice, we’re always looking
to infuse innovation into the engineering capabilities of our products
in order to provide the most exhilarating driving experience and future
mobility experience for our customers.

Has the context around Next Generation challenger thinking
changed at all in a world that has brands such as Tesla competing
for the progressive audience?
For sure. We’ve seen competitor brands able to capture the
excitement, personalisation and engagement that a real-time digital
world brings. It’s what drives us to continuously evaluate how our
consumer is engaged with the Audi brand, not only when they’re
shopping our products but also when they’re having their vehicle
serviced, or other forms of brand interaction.

We want to embrace the way that this next generation thinks and
we want to continuously position Audi as modern, as well as a brand
that pushes the status quo.

Do you seek to challenge something broader and wider than merely
another car brand?
We challenge complacency. The innovation that Audi has brought
to both the automotive and motorsport industries pushes those
sectors forward and prevents them from becoming complacent.
Our founder August Horch thought there was always a better way
and if we put in the time, diligence and investment, we can make
those things come to life. I think that’s very much in line with today’s
next generation thinking, and makes our innovation very appealing
to new Audi customers.

Is the mantra ‘that there is a better way’ used internally to inspire
company culture?
Every day. It’s part of the hiring process, it’s part of the training
process, and it is instilled in anyone at any level during the course of
their first few months working at Audi. It’s an ideology that doesn’t just
apply to engineers. It applies to everyone – to challenge the way they
think, to push and say to themselves, “Am I doing something that I’m
passionate about, that could push the company forward and really
allow me to leave my mark?”

Where does the responsibility lie to constantly nurture that spirit?
It starts with the individual. We only hire people who can embody
that spirit, but then management supports it by reinforcing the
company values and adding colour and belief into what we need
to achieve as a company.

Tell us about the challenger brands you partner with.
We want to ensure that they embody the same like-minded spirit
and possess that challenger mindset. Major League Soccer (MLS)
is perhaps the best example. We were able to enhance the viewer
experience by bringing player statistics to the fore through the Audi
Player Index. It drove a shared ambition to grow the sport and attract
greater spectator engagement and next generation interest in MLS.

What do you think Next Generation consumers respond to best?
They have a creative mindset at their core. They’re focused on early
adoption of key products and service offerings that are unique. They
want to be able to represent the brand within their communities and
be part of the experience.

Finally, how does Next Generation thinking frame media behaviour
at Audi?
The same things that drive our ambition to provide a superior product,
a premium experience, an exhilarating drive and future solutions for
next generation mobility – those are the same things that drive our
media strategies, media partners and initiatives.

We want our customers to learn about our products through
fascination with the brand narrative and an understanding of our
company values. Just selling your products without demonstrating
company values means you’ll always fall short.

For us, Audi started a conversation during the Super Bowl in 2017
around the growth of women in business. We had made a commitment
to equal pay for equal work, and it’s something we feel is important
to express by leaning in to the cultural conversation. It’s these types
of commitments that reinforce a brand’s authenticity and make
them an important part of a Next Generation ideology