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The Slopes of San Francisco

October 30, 2009

On occasion all the planets align perfectly, and great, memorable advertising makes an incredible home run. (Well, the World Series is underway now!) Case in point, a new commercial for the Audi S4 Quatro, shot on the streets of San Francisco, takes the gold.

In this 47-second spot (often trimmed to 30 seconds), a downhill speed skier is seen tackling an array of skiing obstacles: the starting perch (complete with airborne launch off a street’s drop off edge), a row of “gates” (parking meters), cable cars on California (not usually seen on the slopes of Tahoe) and a frighteningly narrow street I’m guessing is on Russian Hill somewhere. The skier comes to a stunning finale along the wharf with a great, post-Finish Line hockey stop kicking up asphalt instead of snow and ice.

You can read a bit of back story about its development and view the full-length commercial here:

There are several reasons the creative team from Hamburg scored big with this piece. My favorite city and former hometown is highly photogenic, to say the least. Some of its steep hills do beg for a slalom run and a bit of shooshing. And that’s exactly what they did: It’s every kid’s fantasy to whip down the hills at top speed. On the other hand, it’s something you never see. So the juxtaposition of a downhill skier racing down those familiar, urban hills makes you pay attention. It’s the ultimate achievement in advertising; they get the TV viewer who’s turned away at commercial break to actually turn back and watch. What an experience!

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