Audi’s “The Art of the Heist” Campaign Draws to an Excisting Conclusion

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June 7, 2005

Source: Audi of America

SANTA MONICA, Calif – Audi of America’s innovative advertising campaign called “The Art of the Heist” for the all-new Audi A3 premium compact car came to an exciting conclusion last evening at a live webcast event held at The Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica.

More than 300 guests including Art of the Heist enthusiasts, media and celebrities witnessed a stunning finale to the campaign, which started with the theft of an A3 at the Audi Forum on Park Avenue in New York on April 1st (

Crafted with Audi’s long-time advertising partner McKinney+Silver in partnership with Chelsea Pictures/Campfire, The Art of the Heist was a “new-fashioned thriller” that pulled its audience into a story told across multiple platforms, including unique opportunities for live participation by followers at events across the country, in addition to the traditional forms such as a television commercial (30-second spot) newspaper and magazine ads, billboards, online banners and a microsite ( Additionally, wild postings and blogs were used to inform the public about the thriller described as part alternate reality gaming meets branded content, part Bourne Identity meets The Da Vinci Code.

The story evolved over the course of three months and centered around six 2006 A3s containing SD cards with coded plans for the largest art heist in history. One car, a red Audi A3, contained the key to decrypting the plans.

The story’s other heroes are an expert art retriever named Nisha Roberts; her tech-savvy assistant/boyfriend, Ian Yarborough; and one of the world’s greatest video game designers, Virgil Tatum. Of course, there are villains as well.

Unfolding in real time, the missing A3 took The Heist’s characters and viewers on a cross-country chase. The Heist’s audience experienced the story through every media imaginable.

Nisha, Ian and Virgil all interacted with the audience daily — online and in real life at events such as the Coachella Music Festival, the E3 Gaming Expo and an American Film Institute party. As viewers became immersed in the story, they were increasingly immersed in the A3.

The A3 was becoming the most sought-after car in North America – making appearances at events that were just as high tech as the car, in TV spots and on a “missing” billboard in Times Square. Ian was on the run. Virgil and other shadowy figures were close behind. And Nisha, hired by Audi to recover the A3, was trying to figure everything out with the help of the online audience.

The Art of the Heist culminated last evening at Virgil Tatum’s launch party for his new game, The Nisha Chronicles, Vol. 1, held at The Viceroy hotel. There it was discovered that Virgil Tatum’s business partner, Emile Smithson, was behind The Heist from the beginning. From Germany to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, he orchestrated a series of manipulations and deceptions worthy of his best video game design – all of it over the fame and millions he felt Virgil owed him years ago.

It was at this party that a crowd of hundreds and a live online audience witnessed The Heist’s conclusion. The missing A3 was found and Nisha and Ian again saved another great masterpiece from falling into the wrong hands.

About Audi

Audi of America is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and markets performance-oriented European premium vehicles: the A3, A4, A6, A8, and TT. For more information about Audi products and corporate news, visit

About McKinney

Founded in 1969, McKinney is a creatively renowned advertising agency recognized as one of the leading agencies for marketing effectiveness. Headquartered in Durham, NC, McKinney is an independent operating unit of Havas, a NASDAQ-listed firm that is one of the world’s largest communications companies. More information may be found on

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