Audi Hummingbird: Not Your Typical Car Commercial

Published on December 2nd, 2014 by lauraz. Filed under Advertising, Animation, CGI


When Audi’s new model – the A6 Avant – was launched, instead of releasing a generic car commercial that would showcase a car’s sleek design, leather seats, and clean-shaven driver, Audi created the “Hummingbird.” In this 60-second spot, the audience is transported to a surrealist, Lorax-like environment, navigated by a mechanical hummingbird. The commercial’s strengths lie in its concept and execution. Metaphorically, the hummingbird – quick and nimble – compatibly symbolizes Audi’s ultra-lightweight technology, build, and tagline: “the lighter you are, the more agile you are.” This juxtaposition is most noticeable in the last scene when diegetic montage is applied. Diegetic montage is a technique in which advertisers often place two objects side by side to create a comparison or association: in this case, the hummingbird and the Audi A6 Avant.

In terms of execution, advertising agencies are increasingly shifting towards digital animation because people enjoy the novelty of computer-generated imagery (CGI), and this particular ad highlights the skill it takes to bring something to life. There’s believable natural lighting and depth. Using a wide range of shots, such as close ups, rear angle, and head-on direct to follow the hummingbird’s journey, the final creation also evokes a sense of perceived realism and appeal, despite the fact that the entire ad consists of unrealistic elements and environments, such as flowers made from traffic cones and road signs. One of the reasons why the digitally animated hummingbird appears so lifelike is because of its movements: agile, playful, and effervescent. This is important, because research (McDonnell et al., 2008) shows that object movement is more influential than object shape for viewers when associating virtual things with reality.

Relying purely on visuals and classic John Charles Thomas’s song, “Open Road” as background music, this ad also echoes what made the Chipotle Scarecrow campaign so powerful and highly-acclaimed. However, it fails to arouse sentiment the way that the Scarecrow ad does, because it chooses to focus more on marketing the car’s agility and speed, while lacking a deeper emotional narrative that would make the ad more memorable for some audiences. Overall, Audi’s “Hummingbird” is a beautiful piece of work that advertises a common consumer product in a more unique way.

-Laura Zhang


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