Audi Takes Advertising Lead from BMW in Advance of Luxury Brand Battle

Audi Takes Advertising Lead from BMW in Advance of Luxury Brand Battle



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By Sean Muller, CEO,



According to an article in MediaPost the last week of 2014, Audi plans to invest an additional $2 billion over the next five years to develop new models of electric sports cars and sports activity vehicles, aka “SAVs.”


The reason? To upend BMW as the top luxury car manufacturer by 2020. As a precursor to that battle, let’s see how the two brands stacked up against each other for U.S. national TV ad spend and digital activity during 2014.


Both Audi and BMW spent close to an estimated $200 million each on national TV advertising during 2014. But while BMW edged out Audi as the actual top TV spender at $196.6 million, Audi invested its $195 million on more national spots, across more networks, and more TV shows.


Audi bought nearly 5,000 more national airings with a total of 19,725, across more than twice the number of networks than BMW at 91 throughout the year. BMW aired only 14,606 spots across just 39 networks.


Audi also edged out BMW in total number of programs on which their ads aired. While Audi spots featuring Ricky Gervais[] and the Doberhuahua[] aired on nearly 2,500 shows, BMW concentrated on more traditional campaigns airing on less than 1,500.


But it is in the digital space where Audi truly excelled. Audi’s online ads generated 20 million online views, outweighing BMW by 10-to-one. Social Activity is equally lopsided, with Audi tracking close to half-a-million Tweets, Facebook Likes, shares, YouTube comments and more []. Most telling of all, Audi’s digital Share of Voice – the percentage of online activity attributed to Audi within its industry during 2014 – is at 7.75%, while BMW registered a 0.98% for the same one-year timeframe.


Overall, Audi clearly invested its advertising budget more effectively than BMW. How much of its planned $2 billion of increased spending is dedicated to future advertising initiatives remains to be seen. With Audi’s claimed intentions to take the top dog position from BMW following the success of its recent marketing and advertising strategy, BMW is making innovative strides to fight back, announcing it will return to the Super Bowl after a four year break with a commercial promoting its all-electric BMW i3.


Who will win in 2015? Only time and data will tell.


Sean Muller is the CEO of, the company that tracks real-time paid TV media and related earned digital activity across social, search and video.

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