Robert Downey Jr is back in all metallic armour and dry-humour-cheekiness as Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 set for worldwide release on May 7. Audi returns as his vehicle of choice. You wouldn’t miss the characteristic 4 ringed logo, with Bob driving an R8 (albeit a modest choice for a billionaire i.e. when he is not flying in his armoured suit) and his secretary Gwyneth Paltrow also driving an Audi, the A5. The A6 and the Q7 also make brief appearances. Audi has pioneered and is excelling in a new marketing trend. Reverse product placement.
Reverse product placement is being developed in the form of promoting luxury hotels chains and exotic locales through Audi TV. It also gives Audi technology a chance to be featured in day-to-day situations, like how it looks parked outside a hotel or on a snaky road up the Alps. It brings the brand closer to reality and gives a prospective buyer a genuine sense of how he/she would look owning an Audi. With the recession having choked the life out of the automotive industry, there is more sense in numbers than sheer exclusivity. Audi thus succeeded in creating an entire luxe lifestyle brand and media channel around itself. These videos are also embeddable and easily shared through social media links.
Audi’s more straight forward product placement attempts included two whole movies in the Transporter series that made Jason Statham a household name. Audi also quite admirably developing an all new prototype RSQ for the 2004 Will Smith hit I-robot. The resulting Audi RSQ sports coupe is a visionary interpretation of the company’s direction and the Audi brand essence of “Vorsprung durch Technik . Interestingly the car remained recognisable as an Audi for all its new age 2035 era form. The placements (before the recession) had given Audi a curiosity index boost and a much needed foothold in the then growing US luxury car market, not to mention a substantial boost to the image ratings of the brand.
This is a noticeable trend for Audi, to partner with movies that have “technology” (gadgetry) as the core to the screenplay, with its advanced engineering superiority as the key marketing message. Product placement like this can get messages from either partner out to places where one can’t buy advertising themselves.”
Other brands ‘placed’ in Iron Man 2 and also featured on the official website are LG Mobile, Sega, Gameloft, Royal Purple, Semir, Norton, 7-Eleven, Dr Pepper, Burger King and Oracle software. According to Variety, the brand partners will spend more than $80 million in media buys alone to publicize their links to the sequel.