Audi gets the heart beating (literally) in new 'Final Breath' spot from Venables Bell & Partners

A dying man remembers the ride of his life in Audi's new spot; "a rollercoaster" of a shoot, says VB&P art director Aisha Hakim. / Audi

Carmaker Audi tells the story of an adventurer letting his life flash before him in a cinematic new spot created by San Francisco agency Venables Bell & Partners. As the man's loved ones surround him, he reminisces his moments of life and love, races through deserts, and many other adventures.

“I spent my life in motion, relentlessly pushing forward,” the monologue begins, and in a blink you find him dancing with a love in fields of golden grass, and then helping to tear down the Berlin Wall in the next. “I’ve squeezed every drop of juice out of this life,” he says, proudly, almost without regret. “I’m ready for the next.” He flatlines soon after, to the dismay of those surrounding him in his last moments. And then, the roar of Audi’s new RS 5 Coupe brings him back to life, yelling at the agony of a new challenge interrupting what was looking like a peaceful death.

Aisha Hakim, art director at VB&P knew that documenting the life of a legendary man would remind viewers of another very interesting man.

“They have cornered the market of any man who’s considered interesting,” Hakim laughed, “but what sets our hero apart is that even with the large life he lived, it showed himself as an intellectual, someone who’s had his highs and lows.” The clip of him at the Berlin Wall, she feels, is a key part to the hero’s character. “That scene sums up his fearlessness in the face of change, his rebellious heart, but also grounded him in our world. We wanted people to be able to think of him as someone existing in the same world as them, and not as a mythical character.”

The tone of the ad is very different from spots in Audi’s past, which Hakim and Venables credits to director Martin de Thurah. “His ability to create a truly cinematic film is incredible. His vision and attention to detail to the story really brought it to life.” The three-day shoot took the team and crew to Montecito and Santa Barbara in California, but the deathbed scene, in particular, was filmed on location at a hacienda in Pueblo, Mexico owned by a friend of the director.

Hakim first felt that the resulting spot would be a ride when she arrived on set and saw de Thurah and his director of photography work together. “While we were settling in, we would see Martin and Kasper [Tuxen, director of photography] in a field shooting an unboarded shot.” That very spot turned into the dancing scene you see in the film. “That was the first day and we all looked at each other like, 'wow, this is going to be a rollercoaster'.”

Ken Bracht, Audi’s director of brand marketing, gave his comment on the end result, saying, “A life well lived is something that we all aspire to, but what differentiates our message in ‘Final Breath’ is that we challenge our viewers to expand on how that is defined through cinematic storytelling.”

Hakim, who called the opportunity to work on the spot a “pinch me” moment, agreed, crediting the ability of the client to agree to the direction of the idea. “I love when brands step a little outside their comfort zone, it shows such a depth to their ability to commit to the creative.” Understanding the brand, and its willingness to push what a male-dominated segment the sports car market is, the 3% Next Creative Leader honoree sees that as a major opportunity.

"Audi really cares about the creative," she adds, "and they want to be pushed. I absolutely love I can bring a different point of view to them."

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