The new deal with Paramount follows the Super Bowl brand spot that introduced the R8 to the U.S. market with a "Godfather" theme by AOR San Francisco-based Venables, Bell and Partners. Audi has been using R8 as a brand halo to boost awareness of itself as a performance-car brand.
Automakers love putting cars in superhero and fantasy/action films. Chrysler Group promoted Dodge by putting the division's nameplate on the flying car driven by the Fantastic 4 in "The Rise of the Silver Surfer" movie. General Motors had several transforming cars in the "Transformers" film. Cadillac was featured in the second "Matrix" film, to name a few recent examples.
Wes Brown of L.A. consultancy IceOlogy says that while it is impossible to measure ROI on promotional tie-ins such as Audi's with "Iron Man," such deals offer a lot of impact for a comparatively small spend. "No, you can't expect the movie that opens Friday to bring people into showrooms on Monday," he says. "But where it is very beneficial in Audi's case, and as it was with Caddie in 'The Matrix,' is that it builds brand awareness with a new audience."
He concedes that while the reality is that 99% of the people are not going to be able to go out and buy an R8, "You will naturally get a halo effect from the car. People will say 'That's a what? Audi? I didn't know they could do a car like that.' The beauty of having a vehicle like that is that it shows what the brand is all about, and it can have strong trickle-down effect in awareness, image and aspirational value."
The international effort launched with a microsite, in-cinema advertising, and outdoor ads. In the film, Tony Stark builds the Iron Man suit in his garage. Notable in the background are the Audi R8, S5 and Q7 SUV. The video assets that Audi is using in the ads comprise scenes from the film and use a "One Man. One Machine. One Mission" theme to equate the creation of the Iron Man suit to the design and building of the R8 car from the frame up.
The microsite lets consumers tour Stark's lab from different perspectives, including through the "Iron Man Vision" bio-robotic eyesight of Tony Stark. The site also has info on the film and exclusive footage, and background information on the movie can be called up and viewed. The microsite also contains historical facts about Audi and the "Iron Man" comic book character. The "time beam," a DNA thread, can be found in a virtual Audi R10 TDI racecar.
Eleven video clips will be released on a weekly basis on the microsite, audi.com/ironman, until the movie reaches theaters. The video comprises behind-the-scenes content, interviews with the cast and crew, Audi/"Iron Man" commercials, and background on use of Audi vehicles on the movie set. There will also be dealer tie-ins.
Scott Keogh, Audi marketing director, says advertising will be exclusively in-cinema. "We wanted to create an eye-catching campaign that will connect with both 'Iron Man' buffs and film lovers," he says.