Previously, the luxury hatchback category had tried and failed to penetrate the US market several times, a stark contrast to having mass adoption in Europe. When embarking on its own luxury hatchback launch, Audi needed to try something daring.
A real-time interactive alternate reality campaign that blurred the lines between fact and fiction, online and offline, story and brand. The 3 month campaign kicked off when a surveillance video documenting the theft of the first Audi A3 in the United States was released online, receiving millions of views. The next day, at the New York International Auto Show, missing signs went up in place of the A3 on the main stage. Thousands of international attendees at the event ignited the campaign by spreading the story to hundreds of blogs and news organizations across the world. The Art of the Heist was off and running.
The campaign used over 1,000 pieces of communication and every possible type of media. All of the communication led interested participants to an interconnected network of domains. Each site introduced the narrative and invited users to interact with the story, online and offline, as it unfolded in real-time.
The Audi A3 launch was the most successful new car launch in Audi’s history. Throughout the 90-day experience, over 500,000 users interacted with the story. Participants learned that plans for the largest art heist in history were stored in the A3′s GPS system. The heroine of the story, Nisha Roberts, ultimately thwarts the heist by interrogating the criminals, recovering the stolen A3 and returning it safely to Audi.