With a smashing box office this weekend, "Fifty Shades of Grey" is the talk of the film world.
And Audi is the talk of the luxury automotive world.
While parent Volkswagen has been enduring some struggles, especially in the US market, Audi has steadily established itself as a serious challenger to the "Big Three" top-tier luxury car brands: Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus.
It only makes sense that Audi and Christian Grey are two passionate and aggressive tastes that go great together. In the movie, the kinky billionaire drives Audi's high-performance R8 supercar. It makes sense: Audi is aiming for a younger set of affluent buyers. Mercedes and BMW are for older folks; Audis are for young turks.
Grey isn't the only cinematic billionaire to slip behind the wheel of an Audi. "Iron Man's" Tony Stark is also an Audi man — the cars make numerous appearances in all three films in the franchise.
Interestingly, that Audi is Christian Grey's ride-of-choice is a product-placement plot-point that was established long before Hollywood got its hands on the steamy tale of a BDSM-inflected courtship between a mega-rich gent and his inexperienced ingenue, Anastasia Steele.
In the original book series, Audis are everywhere. According to various sources, there's the aforementioned R8, but also an A3 sedan that Grey gives to Anastasia (to replace her VW Beetle — I guess you can read into that what you will about where Audi and VW stand in relation to each other), plus some S-Series sedans and an SUV.
Author E.L. James included Audis in her books for obvious reasons. Rolls-Royces and Bentleys imply lord-of-the-manor luxury, while Mercedes is often associated with aging plutocrats and BMW is ever-so-slightly tainted by being the preferred vehicle of Hollywood talent agents.
Audi's sweet spot is the under-40, hard-charging, techno-finance crowd. The cars especially are widely admired for sleek designs that attract praise from the creative echelons of the upper-crust. Audis are German, but they are sexy German.
I haven't read the books, nor I have I seen the movie. But when I asked myself, "What does Christian Grey drive?" I had the answer before Google returned a single result.
Audi went through a rough patch a few decades ago, when buyers thought its cars were unsafe. Over the past 20 years, the brand has decisively rehabilitated itself and is now storming a stratum of the market that some might once said was impervious to a new entrant.
"Fifty Shades of Grey" and "Iron Man" have added immeasurably to the brand's aura.
In fact, you could now say that for characters of the Christian Grey/Tony Stark type, Audi is now the default choice.
"Audi is a brand that symbolizes performance, technology and modern design," said Loren Angelo, director of marketing for Audi of America, in a statement (via Edmunds.com), when asked about the appearance of the cars in E.L. James' books.
"The natural inclusion of our hottest models in this series illustrates how Audi has become truly synonymous with sophisticated luxury."
Hot sophisticated luxury, Mr. Angelo!
Why couldn't Grey drive a Ferrari, a Porsche, or a Lamborghini?
Because although those cars are stunning, they also carry with them an adolescent hangover. Somehow, it doesn't seem right to be wearing a bespoke suit, ŕ la Mr. Grey, while tearing around in a bright yellow Lambo Hurácan (Lambo is also owned by Volkswagen, by the way).
I daresay, Audi is dominating the luxury auto world right now.
Watch the commercial that Audi prepared to coincide with the opening of the film:
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