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Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

Adventures in Brand Extension Pt. 1: Audi's Virtual Assistant

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Audi Australia has just installed it’s first virtual assistant in a Sydney dealership and, sadly, it’s a case of  implementation not meeting expectation. This happens all the time (T-Mobile G1 anybody or Apple MobileMe anyone?) but not normally to companies with an otherwise unimpeachable image such as Audi.

For a brand whose presence is so tightly built around Vorsprung durch Technik (Advancement through Technology for the non-German speakers), this 10mm sheet of plastic (rigid hair cut-outs and all) and some projection technology seem positively crude.

The limitations of the technology also mean that the actress had to stand still and try to not use her hands for expression which contributes to an awfully forced experience. I can’t imagine many prospective customers standing around as she delivers her spiel about how great the latest Audis are, it’s just not engaging enough.

To top it all off, she does not posses an “Audi” voice. To those of you unfamiliar with the Australian accent we may all sound the same. We do however enjoy a diversity of accents and manners-of-speech down under and unfortunately the actress used here comes over a bit (see below after watching the virtual assistant and you’ll understand what I mean). It just doesn’t communicate  the level of refinement and sophistication that people normally associate with Audi.

Although I recognise that this is a product of Audi Australia, or perhaps even the dealer, the fact that I discovered this poorly resolved gimmick through Autoblog and YouTube demonstrates that even localised branding decisions can have a global reach.

Head over to YouTube (no embedding was allowed) and decide for yourself whether the virtual assistant is a case of advancement through technology or technology without a cause. As always,  let me know what you think in the comments.

PDM via Autoblog.

Category: Adventures in Brand Extension, Branding, Car, Design, Design Strategy, Technology, Things I Hate

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