The License Plate on This Skier’s Arm Turned Out to Be One of Audi’s Cleverest Ads Yet

Åkestam Holst's devious switch-up

Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Audi was one of many sponsors at the 2017 World Ski Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, this past February. To help the automaker stand out from the crowd, Stockholm agency Åkestam Holst came up with a counterintuitive idea: Replace the brand’s logo on a single competitor’s sleeve with a license plate number—and then award the car with that number as a grand prize to the first person watching on TV to spot it amid the sea of skiers.

A new case study captures the rough tick-tock of the campaign. Audi promoted the challenge on social media in the run-up to the competition, so fans would tune in for a chance to win. On the second-to-last day of the 14-day competition, Swedish skier Frida Hansdotter appeared with the proverbial golden ticket emblazoned on her upper arm.

The first person to tweet about it got a new Audi. The first 10 people to mention it on social media also got some ski gear.

It’s an approach that’s devious in its mechanics. The automaker didn’t just get fans buzzing online. It tricked them into spending 13 days staring at its logo in hopes of seeing something else, by dangling a substantial carrot (a new car isn’t a small prize for most people—but it’s certainly a cost effective one for Audi, compared to sponsorship and advertising costs).

Some 589 athletes participated in the championships. And as in many sports, the skiers’ uniforms are almost comically packed with marketing images, so picking the single patch out of the bunch is trickier than it might sound at first blush.

In fact, it might seem downright unnoticeable compared to another social-media-themed campaigns at this year’s competition in St. Moritz, where Swiss telecom Heimat carved giant versions of fan tweets into snow on the mountainside to cheer on the country’s athletes.

Then again, it probably presented far fewer logistical challenges.

Client: Audi
Agency: Åkestam Holst
Creative Director: Magnus Jakobsson
Art Director: Michal Sitkiewicz
Art Director: Eva Wallmark
Copywriter: Rickard Beskow
Account Manager: Jennie Strinnhed
Planner: Simon Stefansson
Account Director: Lina Engler
Digital producer: Alex Picha