Competition is a cornerstone of the automotive world. It drives R&D, production, consumption, and sport. Most of today’s top auto manufacturers have developed intricate and passionate rivalries with their closest counterparts that have spanned decades, and continue to last through the generations.
Key among these historic auto rivalries is that which exists between the German luxury mainstays; Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and Audi (and to a lesser extent, Volkswagen).
These manufacturers have competed against one another, both in the showroom and on the track, since long before you were born.
Such close competition has bred some of the best pieces of automotive tech to date, but has also fostered divisive allegiances in the hearts of millions of auto fans around the world. Sure, there are those of us who appreciate the offerings from each of the German manufacturers somewhat equally, but you don’t have to search far to find enthusiasts who will champion the supremacy of just one (while cursing the efforts of the rest).
It should come as no surprise then that the German automakers have always been quite clever in capitalising on the fervour of their fandoms when marketing their vehicles, especially when attempting to establish brand superiority in the eyes of rev-heads the world over.
One such effort went down in Los Angeles in 2009, when Audi erected a billboard featuring their new A4 in a high-traffic area of Santa Monica, accompanied by a simple message: “Your move, BMW”.
Cheeky, right? Well, BMW weren’t about to let Audi get away with the jab. Within days, a new (much larger) billboard appeared directly adjacent to Audi’s. This billboard featured one of BMW’s performance-monsters, the M3, and one word: “Checkmate”.
The German automakers have never shied away from taking such jabs at one another in the spirit of rivalry. That is what makes the two most recent advertisements from Mercedes and Porsche just so perfectly classy.
To congratulate BMW on its 100th year as an automaker, Mercedes and Porsche have each published print ads with genuinely sincere messages of competitive appreciation.
The Mercedes ad features BMW’s signature kidney grille, front and centre, with the message “Thanks for 100 years of competition. The previous 30 years were somewhat dull”. While this sentiment does include a cheeky hint at Mercedes being the senior of the two rivals, the fact that the ad is dominated by a visual tribute to BMW’s most recognisable styling component is a huge compliment.
The Porsche ad features their electric supercar concept, the Mission E, alongside BMW’s electric production car, the i8. The accompanying message reads “The future presents us with great challenges. We face them with sheer driving pleasure. Porsche bows to 100 years of moving automobile history and wholeheartedly congratulates BMW on this jubilee.”
Despite decades of fierce rivalry, the Germans haven’t forgotten their manners. As simple as it is, this is instantly one of my favourite demonstrations of class in the automotive world to date. Well done Mercedes. Well done Porsche.
What say you, Audi?