MARKETING AIDS

Teaserpar0158imageJust back from the On Hollywood show at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles where something tried to seduce me big time.

Included in my bag of goodies was a black envelope with the following invitation from Audi:

TEST DRIVE AN AUDI TO HELP FIGHT AIDS

Audi provided all the attendees at On Hollywood with a simple value proposition: they promised to donate $50 to the Elton John AIDS Foundation in exchange for test driving an Audi motor car. No purchase necessary, although they promise to donate $500 in the event of a purchase.

It's a classic seduction -- a double win-win. Audi wins by shoving me into an Audi and associating its marque with the global fight against AIDS. I win by guiltlessly getting into an Audi and having $50 donated "in my name" to AIDS research.

In this win-win, are there any loser-losers?

Mercedes, Jaguar, Lexus, BMW and other high-end car manufacturers are all potential losers in a struggle to win my business. To keep up with Audi, I would advise them to do some seducing themselves. How about donating one of the Google $100 laptops to a child in Africa anytime some good soul test drove a Beamer?

Another loser is good taste. Such a flagrant play on my conscience is tasteless. I don't mind giving my cash to Audi in exchange for a well engineered commodity. But mixing this concrete economic transaction up with an abstract moral argument is offensive. Instead of being seduced by good works, I want to be seduced by a good time. Show me a Jag and a blonde and I'll buy the image instantly. But not a Jag and a blonde bundled with a not-so-subtle reminder of global hunger.

So here's my response to Audi. I am going to donate $50 of my own to Elton John's AIDS charity in exchange for NOT test driving an Audi. No purchase necessary. That's my moral gesture of the day -- my own little win-win over the marketing preachers at Audi.

========= GENERAL INFORMATION =========

Merchant : Elton John Aids Foundation IncDate/Time : 04-May-2006 09:53:36 PM

========= ORDER INFORMATION =========Invoice : 4673Description : DonationAmount : 50.00 (USD)Payment Method : MasterCard

==== BILLING INFORMATION ===Customer ID :First Name : AndrewLast Name : Keen