Case Studies

A LAP OF LUXURY

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Zagame’s Melbourne Audi Showroom is a showpiece of automotive passion.

Story: Christopher Holder          Photos: Christine Francis

Audi’s luxury brand is carefully cultivated and fiercely protected. Head office enforces strict guidelines and style guides, and the threat of the agency being pulled is ever present for those thinking about playing fast and loose with the Audi brand. But it’s not all about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s (or should that be the ü’s and ø’s?), there has to be room for passion.

Luxury cars are about passion. People buy with their heart. In fact, in the case of the Zagame family, the cars are sold with as much passion as they’re purchased.

The Zagames stand astride the luxury car market in Melbourne like a keyless-entry Colossus. They have garages across the city and have a special love affair with Italian supercars, with exclusive Victorian distribution of Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini.

The jewel in this crown is the Audi Centre Melbourne on the corner of Swanston and Victoria Streets, one of the busiest intersections in town. This is five levels of primo real estate.

“We’re the second biggest Audi showroom in the world after Dubai,” noted a justifiably proud Adrian Zagame. “But I’d like to think we’re the best.”

Adrian is a Director of Zagame Automotive and ably demonstrates that Audi may have met its match when it comes to a passion for perfection and customer experience. “It’s worth remembering you’re dealing with a brand that’s bigger than our own,” concedes Adrian, but it hasn’t stopped Zagame from taking the Audi showroom template and improving on it.

SHOW TIME

The Audi Showroom (and the adjoining Maserati Melbourne showroom) is a sleek modernistic monolith. Within it, digital signage plays a key role.

Zagame Automotive commissioned a digital signage system design that could then be put out to tender. Urban Intelligence won the job thanks to a slick presentation and an appreciation for Zagame’s intentions for the system, rather than a gear-led ‘this plugs into this’ tender.

The truth is, Zagame wouldn’t even necessarily call the technology installation ‘digital signage’, simply a wishlist of requirements: It had content it wanted to display on video walls, it had screens elsewhere in boardrooms and common areas that it wanted to use for presentation purposes (and Audi content when not in use), it wanted a ‘Configurator’ room (vehicle optioning/customisation software) that would involve touch technology, and it wanted a centralised delivery of this content alongside BYOD wireless takeover capabilities. Sounds sophisticated, but it also had to be simple to use.

BUY WITH THE EYES

“People buy on the basis of emotion and the ability to envisage themselves in a car,” noted Adrian Zagame. “Advertising does this very well, and our digital signage reinforces that messaging. Once a customer is in the showroom, the digital signage is a powerful way of influencing their thoughts and feelings. They might see a car on a beach on our huge video wall, and it’s not long before that customer is visualising that — ‘It could be me in that car on a beach’.”

Adrian points out that many people who come to the showroom are happy to be sold the dream — they’re already convinced themselves they want an Audi… but which model exactly?

“It’s not about price. And here’s where the digital signage is so powerful, it’s a catalyst for conversation, it leads to the point where we can talk about the right Audi for you. Sure, we have super-cars and luxury models but an Audi isn’t unattainable. Digital signage allows us to start that conversation.”

The signage is currently fed content from centralised PCs via HDBaseT (hi-def video over cat-6 cable). Audio for the video goes to JBL Control Series in-ceiling speakers. The video walls use Kramer and Extron AV hardware to manage the hi-def image across the 16 displays. The screens are from Philips, principally because it was the only vendor to guarantee 24/7 operation.

The next phase sees Audi TV programming streaming straight from Germany. Audi TV content is lavishly produced and dwells on the hand-made elements of the vehicles: the history, the hi-tech wizardry and the racing pedigree.

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CONFIGURATOR: OPTION UP

There’s something that switches on in a male brain (let’s face it, mostly it’s male), when left to his own devices in a car showroom. Having left the house with a promise simply to view a vehicle ‘on special’, he now finds himself at a configurator screen adding a walnut dash, ceramic brakes, metallic paint, and a sports pack to his ‘demonstrator’; each flick of the wrist adding to the cost of the vehicle.

“The Configurator room is fantastic,” enthuses Adrian Zagame. “When in our Configurator room we’re not selling you a car, we’re helping you design your dream car. In that room, price isn’t important; we’re personalising your order.”

At the time of going to print, the Configurator room was based on a web platform, with a 3×3 video wall, and this is soon to be given an offline upgrade from Audi — a full-blown showroom Configurator with touchtable technology, allowing the customer to make a hands-on selection and then ‘throw’ their choices up to the video wall, all in glorious hi-def. Once you’ve customised the perfect vehicle, you can scan the QR code to take it away with you on your device. Something to show the wife… perhaps.

SIGNAGE & BOARDROOM

Fascinatingly, Zagame has sewn signage into the fabric of its business. The showroom is principally a place to sell cars, but is now also an events space and staff training factility.

And with the prevalence of glass and open plan architecture, there’s hardly a sightline which doesn’t involve some kind of screen. Adrian Zagame explains further:

“Every screen in the building is potentially a digital signboard or a free-to-air TV, or a Blu-ray video player, or a presentation display. Every screen is just as useful to us to sell vehicles as it is to train staff or theme events. Every screen within the building can be over ridden by either plugging in a laptop, a USB key or, through the wi-fi, a mobile device. We have a powerful central matrix such that any source can be displayed on any screen. It’s extremely flexible.”

Urban Intelligence spec’ed Sharp displays in the meeting rooms. “They’re a domestic panel,” explained Urban Intelligence’s Stephen Sokolowski. “But they have RS232 control [for remote on/off control], they look smart and we’ve found them to be very reliable.”

AUDI PARTNER

Zagame Automotive has taken the Audi template and given it the ‘Zag’ flourish. It’s a beautiful showroom with an equally elegant signage network. Is Audi satisfied?

“They have asked us to maintain strict corporate guidelines,” reflected Adrian Zagame. “But they’re delighted with the end product. They have understood we have taken the Audi model and improved on it.”

And if you’re an Audi tragic, then you now have a new sacred pilgrimage site to ‘Vorsprung’ your ‘Technik’.

Urban Intelligence: (03) 9514 6000 or www.urbanintel.com.au

Westan Australia (Philips): (02) 8033 2186 or www.westan.com.au

Sharp: www.sharp.net.au

Kramer: www.krameraustralia.com.au

Extron: www.extron.com.au

Jands (JBL): www.jands.com.au