The Story Behind Audi's Striking Emmy Ads Featuring Classic TV Themes

Courtesy Photo
Audi Orchestra Campaign: Mary Tyler Moore Show

As the official sponsor of the 69th annual Emmy Awards, Audi drove its partnership home with a compelling trio of commercials during Sunday night’s CBS broadcast that paid homage to classic programs honored at past years' events.

The striking ads featured the all-female Audi Orchestra playing the instantly recognizable themes from classic series Star Trek, Cheers and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, as the car engines also chimed in adding their own musical accompaniment. The three white Audis, the Audi RS V10 Plus, TTRS and and SQ5 models, stood out in stark contrast on the bare black and white set.

Each ad started with the shot of a musician or car and listed the Emmy nomination or award for which the designated show had been honored -- such as outstanding comedy series 1991 for Cheers or outstanding drama nominee 1967 for Star Trek -- before delving into the theme.


“This year marks the seventh year that Audi has partnered with both the Television Academy and Emmy Awards. With our campaign this year, we really wanted to pay tribute in a unique way to the power and cultural influence of television,” says Loren Angelo, VP of marketing, Audi of America. “We ultimately decided that the best way to do this justice was to celebrate some of the breakthrough television shows through their recognizable theme songs, but with an Audi spin.”

Through its ad agency, Venables Bell & Partners, Audi put out the call to publishers for iconic TV themes that had received Emmy recognition says Brian Monaco, Sony/ATV president/global chief marketing officer, Sony/ATV ended up publishing the three chosen themes. “If you had a lot of TV themes in your catalog, which we do, you were going to luck out in this situation,” he says. Audi then re-recorded the themes with the orchestra and car sounds. 

“We explored a variety of popular programs and car-centric hits from the past in our exploration, but these three shows hit just the right tone of comedy, tribute and drama,” Angelo says. 

The Emmy telecast marked the only time the spots will air on broadcast TV, but they will live on Audi’s YouTube channel for the next year before disappearing. 

The Audi ad is the second car commercial currently airing to feature The Mary Tyler Moore Theme -- the song also appears in Volkswagen’s campaign for its 2018 Tiguan SUV. (Both brands are owned by the Volkswagen Group.) Monaco says Sony/ATV received clearance from Volkswagen before giving Audi permission to license the track. 

The Emmys averaged 11.4 million viewers, up a fraction from the 2016 Emmys’ all-time low of 11.3 million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter