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Audi Dealers Use Customer Testimonials in Car Ads

November 28, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ Audi dealers in the New York area are using advertising that quotes satisfied customers to counter allegations that some Audi 5000s with automatic transmissions accelerate unexpectedly.

Full-page ads featuring snapshots and upbeat comments collected from Audi owners have appeared over the past month in some editions of the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Owners of the German-made Audi use words such as ″reliable,″ ″confident″ and ″trust″ in describing their cars. The ads are arranged like pages from a school yearbook.

Those familiar with the campaign say the lingering controversy over the acceleration problem provided the inspiration for the ads, although the problem is never specifically mentioned.

Edward Triolo, a spokesman at Audi of America’s headquarters in Troy, Mich., said the company preferred to handle that issue separately via notices sent directly to Audi owners, consumer groups and appropriate regulators.

The private Center for Auto Safety charges that Audis built in 1978-86 can accelerate suddenly, usually when being shifted out of park. It says the problem had been linked to 750 accidents involving 250 injuries and six deaths.

Audi maintains the cars have no safety defect but has offered to install automatic shift locks that keep drivers from shifting out of park unless a brake pedal is depressed.

The dealers got the idea for their ad after a sales manager complained that publicity about the acceleration problem was overshadowing that most Audi owners are pleased with their cars, said William P. Schloth, an executive vice president of Audi Eastern, which distributes Audis to dealers in the New York- New Jersey-Connecticut area.

He said that within days of deciding on the approach, the 24 New York-area Audi dealers found 150 Audi owners who volunteered to talk about their cars and have their pictures taken for an advertisement.

″Safety is just one of the things I love about my Audi,″ Marilyn Edelstein of Monsey, N.Y., is quoted as saying in the ad.

Reached at the office where she works as a secretary, Mrs. Edelstein said she was delighted to help when someone from her dealer’s office called last month and asked if she would like to be in an Audi ad.

She said she had never had a problem with her 1986 Audi.

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