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Ad of the Day: Audi Finds a Most Unlikely Endorser in the Boxing Ring


You're not the first guy who climbs into the ring and beats the crap out of the second guy. You're the third guy who makes sure the two muscle machines punching each other in the face are following the rules while they do. That's why you drive an Audi station wagon.

This new spot for the carmaker, created by BBH London, focuses on high-profile boxing referee Tony Weeks (who, to anyone not familiar with the sport, might just seem like another boxing referee). In the ad, Weeks officiates a fight between cruiserweights Steve Cunningham and B.J. Flores.

Weeks does what a referee does, but does it well—bossing the fighters around and jumping in to break them up, apparently without flinching at the thought of getting hit by a stray fist. After the fight ends, with the crowd still cheering, Weeks exits the arena, disappearing into a dark tunnel. From the tunnel, an Audi 560PS RS 6 Avant emerges. "Power … from a less obvious place," says the tagline.

The ad, directed by Jonathan Glazer—the celebrated director of the film Sexy Beast and a host of TV commercials, including the legendary Guinness "Surfer" spot—offers a rich and charmingly counterintuitive take on celebrity. That Weeks might not be instantly recognizable to some doesn't matter much. The takeaway is still clear—he may not be the star of the show, but he's certainly running it. That serves as a quiet play to the viewer's ego. Are you like him? Or are you the diva? If you're loud and flashy, maybe this isn't the car for you. This is the car for the strong, stoic type who takes care of business and then goes home while everyone else is racking up the accolades.

That may seem to be an odd—and potentially condescending—sales pitch. Weeks is at the top of his field and still gets some measure of the spotlight, mitigating any impression that he's relatively unimportant to the heart of the endeavor. At the same time, referees, generally speaking, are easily replaced—as are the regular process guys that keep the trains running in less glitzy industries than boxing. Do you want to be that guy? The one who disappears into a dark tunnel and metamorphoses into a hatchback?

In other words, because the ad relies so heavily on metaphor—and more simply, doesn't show Weeks getting into the car—it ends up flirting with a melodrama of its own. Is he a symbol for the car? For the driver? If you have to work that hard to convince yourself you're powerful, are you, really?

Nonetheless, if it means you're not getting slammed about the head for a living, it's probably a good way to go.

Client: Audi
National Communications Manager: Kristian Dean

Agency: BBH, London
Creative Team: Simon Pearse, Emmanuel Saint M'Leux
Creative Directors: Matt Doman, Ian Heartfield
Executive Producer: Ruben Mercadal
Strategic Business Lead: Richard Stainer
Strategist: Edd Southerden
Team Director: Polly McMorrow
Team Manager: Stephen Jones
Additional Production: David Lynch, Georgina Kent

Production Company: Academy
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Producer: Simon Cooper
Production Manager: Bugs Hartley
Director of Photography: Barry Ackroyd
Visual Effects, Online: MPC, London
Telecine: John Claude, Dirty Looks, London
Editing: Paul Watts, The Quarry
Sound Mix, Design: Ed Downham, Johnnie Burn, Wave
Music: Peter Raeburn, Soundtree
Music recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London

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