Who Loved the Audi ‘Starman’ Super Bowl Ad featuring David Bowie?

Feb 14, 2016 | Insights

(To get a better idea of who we are, and what we do, and why you need us, head on over to this entry here)

Ad: “Audi R8 Big Game Commercial — Commander”
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners

Not long before Super Bowl 50, on January 10, the world — oblivious to the fact that he was even ill (in fact, few celebrities have ever been more consistently noted for how great they looked for their age) — lost one of its most iconic and influential performers, in the great rock and roll legend that was David Bowie.

We’re not a rock blog, obviously so we’ll refer you to an excellent online resource called Google to further explore that particular subject. (We do, however, heartily recommend the exploration.)

With the grieving of the loss of this titanic popular culture figure still very fresh on the world’s mind, it’s small wonder that a Super Bowl spot from German automobile manufacturer Audi featuring the singer’s 1972 classic, Starman, wound up causing quite a stir.

Some, of course, regarded the ad with a twinge of cynicism, others marveled at the rather remarkable, albeit bittersweet timing.

According to a representative from Venables Bell & Partners the agency behind the spot, the intention was always to use Mr. Bowie’s song — the rights for which cost the advertiser $2 million — long prior to having any knowledge of the singer’s illness.

The ad, which you can see below in its extended internet cut, shows us a former astronaut — clearly despondent at the ad’s start, presumably longing for a more adventurous time in his life — being rescued from his doldrums, and offered a cruise in Audi’s new R8 V10 Plus. The finely German engineered ride bringing our Starman right back to his days as an explorer of the great beyond.


If Bowie’s song had not always been the planned soundtrack for the commercial, it hardly feels wedged in at the last minute. In fact, it works perfectly in the spot. All in all, a rather stirring advertisement on a few different levels.

In this particular case, we think a good place to start in exploring and digging into those individuals who most responded to this ad, would be seeing what music they like best, as the music is the aspect of the commercial which garnered the most hubbub.

Well, we can tell you right off the bat that the lamented Thin White Duke (Mr. Bowie, to the non-rock-savvy) finds tremendous favor with the ad’s admirers; with that group over 11-times more likely to be Bowie fans than the average social media user.

For context, some notable names keeping Mr. Bowie company in this group of favored musicians include former Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox of whom this ad’s admirers are 13 times more likely than average to be fans. And we’d be remiss were we not to mention one of Bowie’s own personal heroes — a man whose voice Bowie once famously described in song as being like “sand and glue” — the great Bob Dylan (the star of his own somewhat controversial Super Bowl ad, for a competing automotive manufacturer, back in 2014), of whom this ad’s admirers are eight times more likely than average to be fans.

While it was a bit to our disappointment — idealists and dreamers that we are — that this group’s interest in NASA is actually beneath that of the average social media user, at around 0.80. It will — we believe — be of far greater interest to Audi that those who responded most strongly to this ad were full on, bona fide gear heads. We mean hardcore.

This is a legitimate, unaltered, simply sorted list of the top 20 interests among those responding most strongly to this ad on social media.

Not even one non-car related topic slipped its way in there. Like, oh, say… even something related to football?

As we know many come to our entries having not dealt with our data before, allow us to clarify the “multiple” metric.

That particular number relates to the likelihood of a member of the main social audience being analyzed also being a fan of and/or interested in another topic. In this case, that does indeed mean that fans of this Audi commercial are 111.52 times more likely than the average social media user to be interested in Yokohama Tire.

Now, for perspective, of course, most people have no idea who the heck Yokohama Tire is, but that’s what makes the multiple metric such an interesting lens through which to analyze data. You can really get inside the head, heart, and soul of the social audience you’re analyzing. And, to put it in the simplest possible terms, this audience cares a lot about cars.

Way more than they care about Bowie (about whom, we remind you, they do care well in excess than the average).

But if Yokohama Tire were to pass away unexpectedly after releasing its best album in years, this is the bunch who’d be clogging your Facebook newsfeed with countless memorials.

The non-auto-set might be curious to know that Mary Henige (@maryhenige) is an automotive industry communications consultant, and the founder of @MagneticaComms ; with a 30-year association with General Motors. And Ray Wert is the former editor of Jalopnik. He now works as a consultant for General Motors and runs the website, Tiny Toy Car.

And to close, we will point out, as we like to do, that insights of this nature are not just falling from the sky. Our technology has the ability to dig deep, sort through, and make sense of mountains of data quickly, letting you know if you’re reaching the right audience. Or, as may be the case, helping you to better communicate your message to the audience you are attracting.

To use social media for marketing purposes — as we’re all pretty much doing now — without also employing StatSocial is roughly equivalent to scattershot tossing your product at people, at random; just handfuls of whatever it is you’re selling. And then hoping they’ll give you a couple of bucks for it. And well, that’s just plain silly isn’t it?