Audi Partners With Artist Matthew Schreiber for an Immersive New Experience

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By Heather Corcoran / Published by Dwell
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As auto brands look to the art world for cultural cachet, Audi partners with a second-generation Light and Space artist. But what does that say about the marketing biz?

It's no secret that where there's art, money follows, so it's not surprising that luxury car brands have been looking to align themselves with the cultural set. 

While the intersection of art and the automotive world has traditionally taken the form of sponsorships—like the BMWs that ferry VIP fairgoers to Frieze with a soundtrack of experimental sound art—a new wave of auto marketers are going big and creating more immersive (and Instagrammable) installation experiences. 

Audi inspired—and sponsored—a LED light installation by artist Matthew Schreiber.

Audi inspired—and sponsored—a LED light installation by artist Matthew Schreiber.

One of the latest brands to do so is Audi, which recently called upon experiential marketing company The Wonderland to create an installation inspired by the brand. Honing in on Audi's technological innovations—it was the first car company to introduce LED daytime running lights—The Wonderland reached out to artist Matthew Schreiber to create a light installation for New York's members-only Core Club as part of its Bold Notion series of cultural programming.

The installation Schreiber created translates Audi values of aesthetics, dynamism, and interaction into an laser light show in the club's lobby, where members interact with it every day. Comprised of red beams of light from 400 lasers, all hand customized in Schreiber's New York studio, the experience shifts as visitors move within the space—changing their perception of the surrounding architecture in the process.  

In recent years, the marketing world has been turning more and more to projects like this to speak directly to consumers—not exactly about their product, but more nebulously about their brand. The idea is that people will then share the stories themselves with social media, increasing the experience's reach.

"The lines of advertising and digital and experience just blur," says Ryan Jordan, founder and creative director of The Wonderland. "Brands are always looking for new ways to engage the customer." Currently, his team seeks ways to fuse science, architecture, and design to create the type of "you had to be there" moments that make a viral trend. 

The key to such experiences, Jordan says, is thinking of marketing as "experiential theater" that can launch a product or tell a brand story. As audiences become more sophisticated about advertising, marketers are constantly looking for new ways to capture their attention—and their clicks. 

Today's buzzword is "sensorial," Jordan explains. An interesting counterpoint to digital consumption, these events are all about appealing to the senses—things you can see, smell, and even taste. 

That's right, taste: Jordan's team is currently working on projects that incorporate 3-D printed food. 

The installation changes depending on how the audience views it, meaning that no two experiences will ever be the same—one of the keys to experiential marketing.

The installation changes depending on how the audience views it, meaning that no two experiences will ever be the same—one of the keys to experiential marketing.

Schreiber use 400 lasers in the installation, each of which we customized by hand in his New York studio.

Schreiber use 400 lasers in the installation, each of which we customized by hand in his New York studio.

The starting point for the exhibition was Audi's LED headlights.

The starting point for the exhibition was Audi's LED headlights.

By partnering with artists, brands like Audi get a bit of cultural cred, while their message spreads via hashtag.

By partnering with artists, brands like Audi get a bit of cultural cred, while their message spreads via hashtag.

Cover photo by Brandon Woelfel.