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Viral Review: Audi Sends In The Clowns

This article originally appeared in Campaign

Audi this week serves up what is bound to be one of 2017’s most memorable and inventive video campaigns.

Send In The Clowns’ teaser boasts “serious technology, silly situations” – and that’s precisely what we get: a surrealist fantasy that takes a traditional autos ad and turns it upside down, adds a red nose and then throws a cream pie in its face.

But be warned: this isn’t one to watch if you’ve got even a hint of a clown phobia.

The delightful campaign from BBH London imagines a modern city in which goofy, accident-prone clowns live alongside everyday citizens. So while you’re going about your daily routine, you might bump into a jolly prankster slipping on a banana, riding around in a carrot-shaped car and flying off attached to a bunch of balloons.


Obviously, this would pose hazards for any safety-conscious citizen, and Audi’s spot is here to reassure us that no clown, no matter how calamitous, is going to get in your way.

We first see a clown car – multi-coloured and falling apart – careening backwards down a residential street. An Audi pulls out in front of it when its sensor detects the oncoming clown-mobile and brakes automatically. Unimpeded, the clowns keep rolling through the city, to cause more mischief.

This pattern is repeated again and again, with the tech-ingenuity of various Audis outsmarting the carelessness of these urban clowns. In one of the spot’s best scenes, a whole coach full of clowns (complete with inflatable pool on the roof) veers wildly across a highway, while an Audi narrowly dodges it.

The headline here is how brilliant ‘Send In The Clowns’ looks. This is probably no surprise, given it comes from Ringan Ledwidge, the director behind The Guardian’s ‘Three Little Pigs’ and Sainsbury’s WWI Christmas spot.

Colourful and brimming with energy, the whole spot looks like a tie-dye spin on a 1970s police thriller. Underscoring this mad burst of enthusiasm, BBH balances the ad with a modern version of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Send In The Clowns’.

While using slowed-down acoustic covers of classic songs has become a cliche in its own right, Audi still manages to make it work here.

The success of ‘IT’ has certainly brought clowns (terrifying or otherwise) back into public consciousness, but Audi has taken the trend a step further.

‘Send In The Clowns’ is a delightful fantasia of a spot, and will surely be making its way onto ‘Best of the Year’ round-ups in a few months’ time.