Billboard Chess Game: BMW vs. Audi

The advertising battles between two luxury car brands like Audi and BMW have been going on for quite some time now.

I came across a brilliant execution of a 2009 BMW response ad. If you are in the ad business you probably might have heard of it and if you are not then read on.

On the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Beverly Glen Blvd, Audi had put up a billboard campaign challenging BMW with the headline “Your move, BMW”. BMW took the challenge and entered the virtual chess game by featuring the headline “Checkmate”.


On behalf of Santa Monica BMW, the agency that initiated and was responsible for such a tactical advertising was Juggernaut Advertising. The campaign was positioned within the same sightline to westbound traffic as Audi A4 ad.  Juggernaut Advertising saw a unique and immediate geographical opportunity and acted on it.  Del Montell, Jr. of Santa Monica BMW said “When we heard the idea, we loved it and couldn’t resist going forward”.

In response to the BMW’s “Checkmate” ad, Audi had replaced “Your move, BMW” advertisement with a less effective “Time to check your luxury badge. It may have expired” one featuring R8. I am not sure how that reply is relevant to the chess game as it doesn’t make any sense. Nevertheless, BMW removed their ad soon thereafter. Both the “Checkmate” and “Your move, BMW” ads were gone leaving the new Audi ad in reference to what, an advertisement for Barney’s New York when BMW was nowhere to be found. Was Audi telling Barney’s to check their luxury badge? As you can see, Audi has lost this match and was outsmarted by the BMW’s marketing team.

I think the Audi team could have come up with a better and wittier response. May be something along the lines of “Think Again” or “Check Yourself” or “Pawned”.

If you were on the Audi marketing team what would be your response to the BMWs advertisement?  Would you keep the virtual chess game going or just drop out of the match?

Are you a fan of the BMW or Audi?


6 thoughts on “Billboard Chess Game: BMW vs. Audi

  1. One of the things that ad agencies forget frequently is the motion you get from publicity. Personally, I would have continued the game on the idea that this will go viral. First on the one billboard, then several around town, then launch a few videos and push on Youtube. Audi could have humbly admitted defeat and simply say ‘Beginners Luck’, then throw the gauntlet back by posting ads on 3 to 5 billboards, each starting with opening moves from famous chess games – and posting them in locations that would be difficult for BMW to cross post.

    By Audi not responding, they look like they lost and went home to pout.

    BMW could take advantage of this and do a follow up – bloat about how audi lost and is hiding under a rock, or taunt them into trying another game or another sport, etc.

    Either side could easily draw more attention by offering a free chess set for those who do a test drive.

    This would also be an excellent opportunity to use social media and create some kind of an interactive app that can be used on an iPhone, Twitter or Facebook and get fans involved.

    • David, I ‘d have to agree with you on this one… i do think that both companies gave up too quickly and that this could have been an interesting “battle” to watch. Right now, Mini Cooper is challenging Poche to a race on the facebook fan page.

  2. This is fascinating, you never see advertising like this in the UK. I think both companies could have benefited by keeping this going a bit longer, all publicity is good publicity in this instance?

  3. I think it was brilliant as is. Checkmate is game over. Dragging it out would take away from the BAM factor of checkmate and its implication that a winner has already been established. This is beyond brilliant and I tip my hat to Juggernaut Advertising for this…I tip my hat AND bow. BEAUTIFULLY done.

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