Audi North America gently branded this weekend's Head of the Charles Regatta held on Boston's Charles River in glorious fall weather. By virtue of being a (practically) lifetime Audi owner, my husband and I received an invitation to the Audi Hospitality Tent with prime (heated) viewing space, virtually unheard of race-day parking, a lovely catered meal (including fine German wines & beers) and Audi swag.
The hospitality tent also featured a number of affinity partners which made for an interesting afternoon in between heats. Audi chose to display two vehicles at the entrance to the VIP tent, the 2007 Audi S8 (starting at $92,000 MSRP) and the Audi Q7 (starting at $49,900 MSRP). The S8 absolutely sizzles and was great at showing off its Bang & Olufsen sound system. The Q7 is Audi's entry into the SUV market - they
cracked me up showed great event affinity by putting a crew shell on top of the display vehicle.
The hospitality suite featured a set-up by Bang & Olufsen playing a lovely rotation of dinner jazz. B&O is providing the audio system for the high-end Audi vehicles. Check out the sound concept tab on the B&O page - nice web work. The president of the New England region manned the station and was engaging and provided amusing commentary, helpful information and gentle invite to visit the Newbury Street store to try out any of the amazing equipment. I really liked the sound of these $20,000 speakers. My husband pointed me to the $3,000 speakers. They all sounded amazing. The sound system in the S8 was amazing - and if they can make a car sound that good, I feel certain they can make my house sound good. The B&O catalog is so stunningly produced you would pay for a copy - gorgeous stock, beautifully designed, a fantastic "history of" spread in glorious photos and in the last few pages, what they can do for your home. Nice.
Another affinity partner was Abercrombie & Kent "the original luxury travel company" with a digital reel showing all of the dreamy places and great times you could be having (if you can afford it) as well as a literature table with catalogs that made my mouth water. Titles like "European Villas" and "The Royal Scotsman Train" sent me into fantasy overload. I was physically dragged from the table by my husband (and told to stop drooling in public - damn him!)
The final partner at the event was Atomic Skis. They had a tasteful little booth with the hottest of the hot lines of skis for 2007. They managed to get their brochure and stickers into the Audi swag bag too. I'm still hanging on to my too long straight as a board Vokls, but I took a long look at the catalog - which was a bit confusing. They have a thing called "triplets" which is three skis. Okay, I get that they want you to buy three skis, but I can't find any reason why they want you to buy three skis. The catalog has an amusing little blurb, but no real explanation and none on the website either. The skis are well-made items (I know from the pros) and they are learning to market to the youngsters (check the "Fly 'n Grind" line with names like Pimp; Deviant; She Devil and Lil‘ Punx - and those are just the skis) so my perception is this was a good match. Audis also come with the best built-in ski boots ever.
All in all the chosen affinity partners worked for the event. The regatta is a great event, the weather cooperated and I got event-side parking from my preferred brand of automobile. Sweet!
What didn't work - Verizon flying a banner about Fios over the Charles River. Lame-o comes to mind. Cheap, cheap, cheap also comes to mind. I would fully expect to see Bacardi flying a banner over an event (and they did) - it's what liquor makers do, but Verizon? Word to the giant telecom - you want to be associated with a classy event, don't force people to listen to the drone of a small aircraft straining to pull your tacky banner. Does anyone have any statistics on the effectiveness of airplane banners? Yikes.
Anyway, I would look so good in the Audi S8. I'll ask my husband, but I can anticipate his response to a request for a $100K car: "What will you do with the other 2 Audis" or (more likely) "Maybe your next husband will buy you that."