50 years of Audi's iconic slogan “Vorsprung durch Technik”

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To celebrate 50 years since its creation, we are taking a look at the history behind the iconic Audi slogan, “Vorsprung durch Technik”. Though the slogan is still traditionally used across Audi's international promotional materials in German, for those curious, in English it roughly translates to "progress through technology".

In August 1969, the Audi NSU Auto Union AG was created. Audi was working ahead of the current trends and the company’s range of models were being recognised for their great technical diversity. In 1971, Hans Bauer, who worked in the Audi NSU Advertising Department, was reflecting on how this great diversity could be communicated as a real competitive advantage. The result was as simple: “Vorsprung durch Technik”.

Audi's advertising slogan, which is now famous around the world, first appeared in a double-page Audi NSU advertisement in January 1971. In the early 1970s, it was frequently used in conjunction with the company’s flagship model at the time, the Ro 80.


In 1974, Ferdinand Piëch was appointed as Head of Technical Development. The "Piëch era" witnessed the gradual raising of the Audi brand's positioning. The five-cylinder engine (1976), turbocharging (1979) and quattro four-wheel drive (1980) are testimonials of the success of the “Vorsprung durch Technik” policy.

From 1982 onwards, “Vorsprung durch Technik” was consistently used by Audi. This was largely due to global recognition of the slogan which increased extensively after Sir John Hegarty, co-founder of ad agency BBH, spotted the line at an Audi factory. Hegarty noticed the slogan in 1982 on a visit to Germany to establish how to sell Audi vehicles to drivers in the United Kingdom. Despite scepticism, Hegarty went with his gut feeling and brought the slogan to the UK to use across their marketing materials. The strapline is now one of the most famous and long-running in advertising.

In 1984, the slogan shone gloriously on what was, at the time, the largest neon sign in Europe on a high-rise building, right next to the Ingolstadt-Nord motorway exit. The advertising message was often kept in its original German wording when used in international advertising, for example in Great Britain or the United States of America.


“Vorsprung durch Technik” has been registered for use specifically with vehicles and vehicle parts since 2001. As a result, it is odd to think that a slogan as recognisable as this one would ever be questioned. Yet not long ago, Audi faced a seven-year legal battle to win the right to extend the slogan's trademark protection to include clothes and games. Thankfully, the iconic “Vorsprung durch Technik” slogan will not be disappearing any time soon and will, in fact, be more visible than ever.

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