Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Halo Cars

During last Sunday's Super Bowl, one advertisement stood out to me. It was Audi's ad about an aging astronaut that both touched my heart and ignited my passion for cars. Here's the ad (this is the extended version of the one-minute commercial):

Now, you might be wondering why Audi would spend so much promoting the R8. The cost of an ad during the Super Bowl can run $5 million for 30 seconds (and this was a one-minute long ad). Plus there's the cost of producing the ad which, with it's movie-like production values, was probably in the millions. All this for a car that very few people can afford (the base price for the R8 is $162,900).

It's because the R8 is a "halo car."

What's a halo car? It is a vehicle that car manufactures hope adds prestige to their brand. And, with luck, they'll sell some, too. After all they make great rolling advertisements. I saw an older-model Audi R8 in Bellevue, Washington on the interstate once. When it accelerated to jump into a hole in traffic, the sound of its exhaust was nearly erotic for a car guy such as me.

Halo cars is the reason Dodge ran this ad in 1999 for its Viper (another very expensive car):

Not many people were going to by a Viper. But when Joe decides he needs a minivan, in the back of his head he'll think "I want the one made by the company that makes that cool Viper."

Halo cars aren't always high-performance and expensive. For instance, Toyota's halo car is the Prius.

But if you see a car ad for a car you can't afford by a company that makes cars you can afford, it's probably a halo car.

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