Audi, whose vehicles are featured in "Iron Man 2," is launching a marketing program around the Marvel Entertainment film that backs the movie's national run with a social media competition, "The Tony Stark Innovation Challenge" and advertising.
In addition to running a month-long late night TV and national cable campaign and a presence on Fandango.com and Movies.com, the automaker also ran an "Iron Man"-themed TV spot in cinemas in the month leading up to the release. Audi also sponsored the re-launch of Marvel.com that will include a digital comic book featuring Audi's R8 Spyder convertible.
In addition to a cable buy, Audi is also touting the R8 Spyder by partnering with ET and its "Iron Man 2" coverage. "Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau are featured talking about the R8 Spyder, and Mark Steines is covering the vehicle in his piece about the film," says a spokesperson. He says Audi is also sponsoring a movie marathon with FX with Marvel properties.
The cinema ad, which is the same creative as the TV spot, has clips from the film showing the "Iron Man" suit in action, alternating with black-screen text that says things like: "It has unbridled power and superior agility ... it can also get the girl," cutting to shots of the R8 Spyder.
In the film, Stark drives an Audi R8 Spyder. In the first film, he drove the hard-top version. The movie also features the A8 sedan.
The automaker is also running a social media program that is intended to align with the movie franchise's theme of technology as a force of good. The "Innovation Challenge" program aims to get consumers with bright tech ideas to submit two-minute videos detailing their inventions and how they promote better living.
Consumers have to then rally members of their Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social media networks to rate, comment, and discuss the their ideas. Finalists are to be picked by consumer rating of the uploaded videos at TonyStarkInnovationChallenge.com.
The winner gets $15,000 in seed funding, and a promotional Web video about the invention on Audiusa.com The winner also gets a four-day trip for two to California with spa treatments; new clothes and grooming; a tour of Audi Design Center and the Icon aircraft facilities and plane featured in the movie; and track time in the R8 at Audi's "Sports Car Experience."
Audi R8 Coupe also has a major role in the Tina Fey/Steve Carell comedy "Date Night." The duo "borrow" the sports car from Mark Wahlberg's character to use it as their getaway vehicle. A spokesperson said Audi also has an S5 Cabriolet in the upcoming feature film "Knight & Day," currently in production with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.
Audi is also featured -- perhaps ironically -- in the recently released indie "The Joneses," a feature-length critique of consumer culture, stealth marketing, and the practice of relying on brand ambassadors to spread the gospel. The Audi TT and R8 both are central to the film's theme of frenzied materialism.
"Audi's perspective was one where the project was edgy, smart, sophisticated," says a spokesperson. "And while the topic of consumerism is delicate in any environment, it's not one Audi shied away from. It was important to be part of the discourse."
Finally, this past Monday, the National Geographic Channel premiered a documentary on the factory production of the R8, including clips from the DVD extras of "Iron Man 1," featuring Jon Favreau commenting on the difficulty of his crew trying to flip and roll the R8 during filming due to the solid engineering and performance of the vehicle.