Audi’s “The Art of the Heist” Campaign Launched with Stolen A3

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June 8, 2005

Audi’s “The Art of the Heist” Campaign Launched with Stolen A3
Source: Audi of America

Auburn Hills, Mich – Audi of America recently launched an innovative advertising campaign called “The Art of the Heist” for the all-new Audi A3 premium compact car. The new campaign, crafted with Audi’s long-time advertising partner McKinney+Silver, creates an evolving “new-fashioned thriller” which started with the theft of an A3 at the Audi Forum on Park Avenue in New York on April 1st (

The story develops into a narrative involving Nisha Roberts and Ian Yarbrough who are racing for their lives as they are being pursued by a pair of hit men. Ian’s tearing across America in a stolen car, the key to unlocking the mystery behind one of the biggest art heists ever planned. Now Nisha has to find out who’s behind the scheme. To complicate matters, Nisha has attracted the attention of legendary game designer Virgil Tatum. Virgil has set his eyes on a prize of his own – Nisha and a video game based on the adventures of Nisha Roberts and her company, Last Resort Retrieval (

Audi introduced the campaign using multiple platforms, including unique opportunities for live participation by followers at events across the country, as well as the traditional forms such as a television commercial (30 second spot), newspaper, magazine, billboards, online banners and a microsite ( Additionally, wild postings and blogs are being used to inform the public about the thriller.

Results to date have proven the effectiveness in this kind of marketing approach:

More than 200,000 people became involved with the search for the stolen A3 in a single day.

As a direct result of the campaign, online buzz for the A3 has grown by more than four times as a growing number of consumers are now participating in the thriller.

Within the first few days of the campaign launch, seven fan sites were created, one of which includes a “Top 10 Reasons to Play Art of the Heist.” (

After a person clicks an online advertisement to investigate the program, 34 percent of user page views were to A3 buying indicator pages (configurator, dealer locator, payment estimator, request a quote) on the Audi brand site. That is a 79 percent increase in “qualification” over previous launch efforts.

“The Art of the Heist” represents a true innovation in the way Audi connects with its target consumer,” said Stephen Berkov, director of marketing, Audi of America. “The power of this program comes from our deep understanding of the A3 target audience,” Berkov noted. “And creating a thriller on the internet involving our new A3 engages our target customer in the Audi brand and our Never Follow philosophy.”

Created by McKinney in partnership with Chelsea Pictures/Campfire (Blair Witch Project), “The Art of the Heist” campaign concludes on June 29th. “This program has pulled the A3 audience into an idea that we call ‘part alternate reality gaming meets branded content, part Bourne Identity meets The Da Vinci Code.’ It’s a living movie that allows the audience to participate on many different levels,” said David Baldwin, McKinney’s executive creative director.

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 whose clients include American Airlines Cargo, Audi of America, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, The NASDAQ Stock Market, Polaris Industries, Qwest Communications, Rare Hospitality and Travelocity. 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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