03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Audi Gets it So Right and Oh, So Wrong

As the New Year begins, it's a good idea to take a few steps back and review the year behind us. In 2009, we learned that the consumer isn't dead and is showing signs of regaining purchasing power.

This was certainly evident in the television commercials broadcast over the past month or two. One that comes to mind promotes the automaker, Audi. Known for its sleek designs, good gas mileage and, sometimes, excellent EPA air pollution scores, Audi disappointed with its crass approach to marketing during the holiday season.

The commercial showed a neighborhood street where residents competed over who had the most spectacular lighting on their houses. Then a garage opened and two Audi vehicles with lights blazing pulled out of their owners' garage to show that they had the best of all lighting schemes.

What does this commercial show us? First, that no matter what the impact of burning extra fossil fuels to illuminate one's house, it's worth competing for highest voltage. Secondly, instead of demonstrating how their automobiles perform with respect to our delicate climate, Audi boasts, through rank commercialism, about how wonderful not one, but two Audis can be.

Audi could have sold cars and sent a planet-friendly message by stating that some of its automobiles average over 20 miles per gallon, and that when graded on a scale of 0-10 (10 being the best), that their EPA air pollution scores sometimes reach 9.5.

This automaker wasted a great marketing opportunity to show how neighbors can compete over reducing greenhouse gases while at the same time enjoying their newest purchase. Instead they relied on outdated and outmoded tactics.

Jonathan A. Schein is publisher of and