Have you seen Audi’s new ad campaign?

I stumbled across it while watching some MSN Video (which always crashes IE, but I wanted to see Daniel Radcliffe waxing poetic about Harry Potter’s love life. “That’s what I like about Harry as well, is he’s PATHETIC at the whole romance thing. He’s RUBBISH”). I was pretty sure the banner ad stating that a certain Audi had been stolen, and asking that people go to http://www.audiusa.com/a3 to report any sightings, was just a clever way of getting people to visit the website. (And, of course, I visited the website.)

But the campaign is much bigger than just that. The A3 site led me to this homepage for their “internal investigation” into the “theft”. A little box on that page states, “Recently uncovered information has led us to believe that the missing 2006 A3 might be related to other events.”

So I clicked the link on the text “other events”, and found Chapter 1 of a story about spies, hackers, and an eccentric art thief who hides information in Audi A3s.

The story is being blogged. And there are about fifty gazillion videos. The blog has been up since April 1; here’s the original post, which explains that this is all for fun.

Additionally, there’s a website for the spy/hacker team trying to track down the missing Audi (and thereby some missing art), and you can “hack in” (just click the “username” box and pick somebody’s name) and see about a hundred gajillion emails, voicemails, phone calls, videos, and other documents supposedly created by people in this fictional company.

I mean…wow! This is fucking elaborate!