December 7th, 2009

The other day in the narrow lane behind our office I waited to pass as a vast ivory-white SUV executed a three-point (well, many-point) turn to head back the way it had come. Any other car thus hemmed in would have looked silly — and so, despite its de luxe pedigree, did this Audi Q7. What was such a fancy automobile doing lurching about in this dingy lane? Needless to say, a chauffeur was doing the driving. The owner, no doubt some sort of businessman, must have been paying court at the sales tax office nearby.

In India there’s no escaping the close juxtaposition of stylish and sordid. But surely they don’t have to be forcibly united — by, no less, a German luxury brand?

I’m talking about the ads taken out by the Audi Delhi and Gurgaon dealerships in the Sunday, December 6, “HT City” and “Delhi Times”. On page 3 of City, Audi Delhi had a mid-size ad promoting the A6, Audi’s mid-range sedan. And on page 2 of DT, Audi Gurgaon bought a full-page ad to showcase its big new showroom.

A test drive in the new Audi A6.
Your good karma of the day.

That’s what the HT ad said. Do you understand what it means? I don’t. In the crudest way, one grasps the sense of it, but then there’s the explanatory text below those lines:

One good turn deserves another. Hence the new generation of the Audi A6 that continues to enjoy an undoubted worldwide leadership in its class. Set foot inside; you’ll know you’re doing the right thing. The new Audi A6. It’s perfection reincarnate.

Now this is poor advertising copy. What good turn did I do? Or am I doing good (”the right thing”) by test-driving the car? Is the car itself the reward for someone’s good turn somewhere? Why mention doubts at all? As for the last two phrases, yes, okay, I get it, it’s an updated model — but now we’re talking reincarnation?

And then the full-page DT ad. After some brash pleasantries (”58,684 square feet of Audi”) it says:

With 14 models on display, you will discover the widest range of options than anywhere else. The models, variants and accessories on display are among the newest and most advanced offerings. Adding another feather in the cap, Audi Gurgaon has opened a luxury car workshop, the largest in the country with world class facilities and state-of-the-art technology. Be our guest and discover the world of Audi with a team as passionate as the experience of the automobile.

How unappetising. That’s not even English. And the photo of the workshop makes it look like a garage with glass walls. Not much style there.

“Vorpsrung durch Technik”, or “Advancement through technology” is Audi’s slogan. They may well live by it inside their cars, but how about outside? Bad English and daft copy don’t transmit that same message of class and quality — it’s all very lowbrow. The final faux pas in the DT ad, in my opinion, is the final exhortation:

For an Audi Experience
SMS Audi to —–

Shouldn’t that be the Audi experience? And please, save the SMSing for bad TV talent shows. Unless — and this is chilling, though perhaps obvious in retrospect — the only people who can afford an Audi are the ones who didn’t need to invest in the polish of an all-round education. That’s another sad sign of the times: money and class have very little to do with each other. Whatever the truth, a European luxury brand ought to have a little more self-respect. digg:Reincarnonsense newsvine:Reincarnonsense reddit:Reincarnonsense Y!:Reincarnonsense