Can Ricky Gervais Sell Cars? Audi Thinks So

To launch its new A3 sedan, Audi of America is turning to Ricky Gervais to drive home the message that consumers should never compromise.

To hammer home the message, it cast Gervais, a comedian who is often blasted by critics for his acidic sense of humor and jokes.

Gervais is featured in an overall branding campaign called “Dues,” and a separate shorter spot called “Names,” as well as in a series of “Uncompromised Portraits,” in which he discusses his process of telling jokes.

During his profile, he reflects on his three years of hosting the Golden Globes, and the media attention over what were considered offensive jokes directed at celebrities in the audience.

“The reaction after the Golden Globes was weird,” he says in the video. “You usually have to be a mass murderer for that sort of column inches, but then by the end, you know, they sort of got it. Oh, I get it, he’s just telling jokes.”

In “Names,” Gervais spends the 30-second spot listening to a child sitting in the back seat read aloud disparaging tweets about him, as a way to showcase the technology inside the A3 like built-in 4G LTE Internet connectivity that turns the car into a WiFi hotspot.

And in the 60-second “Dues” commercial (see above), Gervais, along with celebrity chef David Chang, photojournalist Lynsey Addario, comedian Kristen Schaal, boxer Claressa Shields, street artists Cyrcle and inner city church choir Voices of Destiny recite lines from “We Are the Champions” by Queen, meant to serve as a rallying cry for the “uncompromised” nature of those who never settle.

The campaign launched during March Madness.

Audi has turned to celebrities before in its campaign to promote its newest vehicles, hiring Claire Danes to reference her “Homeland” character in a campaign that launched around last year’s Emmys. Audi is the automotive sponsor of the Television Academy and the Emmy Awards.

“Audi has a long-standing strategy of connecting vehicles with films, TV shows, and other entertainment-driven events that get people talking,” said Loren Angelo, director of marketing, Audi of America. “By featuring some of entertainment’s biggest names in our marketing campaigns, including entertainer Ricky Gervais, as seen in the recent Audi A3 ad spots, Audi has become one of the most culturally relevant brands today.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Prosecutors Make Last-Minute Move to Bolster Case

    The Manhattan D.A.’s office is making a last-minute bid to strengthen its case against Harvey Weinstein, who is set to be tried next month on charges of rape and sexual assault. Prosecutors notified the court on Tuesday that they will seek a new indictment. The D.A.’s office wants jurors to hear from Annabella Sciorra, the [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein's Autopsy Rules That He Died by Suicide

    Jeffrey Epstein’s death earlier this month has been ruled a suicide by hanging. The New York Times reported on Friday that the city’s medical examiner has officially made the ruling six days after Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. According to the Times, which cites a [...]

  • America Ferrera Eva Longoria

    America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and More Sign Letter to Latinx Community: 'We Will Not Be Broken'

    America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and more have signed a letter published in several media outlets on Friday standing in solidarity with the Latinx community. In response to the heightened tension surrounding President Trump’s immigration agenda, the El Paso shooting that targeted Latinx people and the ICE raids in Mississippi, the letter addresses the language used [...]

  • Research Firm Screen Engine/ASI Acquires TicktBox

    Screen Engine/ASI Acquires TicktBox, an Entertainment Marketing and Ticketing Startup

    Screen Engine/ASI, a market research firm that specializes in focus-group testing of movies and TV pilots, has acquired ticktBox, which operates a digital marketing and ticketing platform used by movie distributors, exhibitors, and TV networks. Terms of the deal, which closed Aug. 9, weren’t disclosed. With ticktBox, SE/ASI will have one of the largest databases of [...]


    Eric Reid, Jemele Hill – and Colin Kaepernick? - Take Jay-Z to Task Over NFL Partnership

    When news of the presumably lucrative entertainment and social-justice deal between Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and the NFL leaked on Tuesday, initially there was a surprising lack of public reaction or outcry. But after a press conference where Jay and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell officially announced the deal at Roc Nation’s New York offices yesterday — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content