Sometimes a brand is just too forward thinking for its own good. At least Audi was when its engineer Paul Jaray designed a crazy-looking, aerodynamically advanced concept car in 1920—a vehicle that looked straight out of The Jetsons. But what was then the automotive laughingstock of Weimar Germany might have ended up being an inspiration to modern-day car designers.
Things weren't easy for the poor little Jaray Audi when it debuted, Audi shows us in its latest (and thankfully, vampire-free) TV spot, "The Swan," which BBH London and director Joachim Back based on Hans Christian Andersen's tale of "The Ugly Duckling" (and set to the song of the same name, sung by Danny Kaye in 1952's Samuel Goldwyn musical about the Danish author). As the misunderstood vehicle drives through a small Bavarian village, the local residents mock and scowl at it. Admittedly, it looks ridiculously out of place. The sad Audi finally retires to a nearby forest, where it's transformed into a white, streamlined 2012 Audi A5 version of itself, whose exterior hints at the lines of the original concept car but is a lot less visually jarring.
It's a charming spot that will certainly stand out—swan-like for the category, indeed. Then again, the new A5 doesn't have that silly "ugly duckling" charm. So, maybe a 1920s reissue is in order?
Head of Marketing: Dominic Chambers
Agency: BBH, London
Creative Team: Matt Doman, Ian Heartfield
Creative Directors: Nick Kidney, Kevin Stark
Producer: Ruben Mercadal
Team Manager: Polly Knowles
Team Director: Simon Coles
Strategy Director: Neil Godber
Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Joachim Back
Producer: Jeremy Barnes
Director of Photography: Jan Velicky
Postproduction, Telecine: Jean Clement Soret @ MPC
Postproduction, Online: Jay Bandlish @ MPC
Editing: The White House