A child gazes into his iPad at a clip of the new Transformers movie, in which the Bumblebee character transmogrifies from the yellow Camaro to the yellow giant. The boy looks up, sees a yellow Camaro roll into his driveway, strolls up to the grill and whispers, "Bumblebee, is that you?"
Yes, it is. Transformers, a movie franchise that would have no tires without
the yellow Camaro, started as a licensing juggernaut for Hasbro and Tomy, and is probably the most product-placement frenzied property in the history of movies (except for maybe every Marvel movie
ever made.) Chevrolet is part and parcel, but this time with more tie-in cars and global marketing ambitions.
Chevrolet has been a key part of every one of the movies, but this time the GM brand is supporting the Paramount-produced, Bay-helmed "Transformers: Age of Extinction," with its biggest global push with advertising to run in the U.S., plus Korea, Indonesia, the Middle East and Russia (the little boy in the Camaro ad is Asian American. There's to be a different child in the version for the Middle East.) "As the Transformer’s popularity has grown, so has our global effort. This is the most globally comprehensive campaign we have developed with Transformers," says a GM spokesperson.
The global media push makes sense because Chevrolet is
leveraging the world popularity of the series (it’s the 13th highest-grossing franchise) to tout global vehicles, one of which isn't even in the U.S. yet: besides Camaro, there's a transforming
Stingray, a Sonic and a Trax, which will be the focus in the ad made for the China market. Trax is slated to come stateside next year. In the U.S., the ad, produced by Michael Bay, will run on shows
like "Good Morning America," "America’s Got Talent" and "Sunday Night Baseball," starting Friday and running up to the film's premiere next Friday. There is also behind-ten-scenes video footage
running on Chevrolet's consumer Web site and YouTube channel.
The spokesperson tells Marketing Daily that the effort includes displays at national and local promotional events including Major League Baseball and motorsports venues, plus dealer partners globally have promotional elements and toolkits.
Tim Mahoney, CMO of Global Chevrolet, said in a release that the movies serve as Chevrolet ambassadors. “These movies have helped us get our vehicles in front of a younger audience around the world.” Said Ed Welburn, VP of global design. “The global series gets our cutting-edge designs in front of more potential customers than we could through traditional methods.” The company actually debuted the concept for the fifth-generation Camaro in one of the early movies.
The movie also uses GM facilities as settings: the Milford, Mich. proving ground, at the GM Design Center in Warren, Mich.; Welburn’s office; and the Lansing, Mich., Delta Township Assembly Plant.
Hasbro, which had a huge licensing presence for the film in Las Vegas this month during the International Licensing Expo, said in a statement that there are some 300 licensing agreements and promotional relationships afoot. Oreo, like Chevrolet, is doing a global promotion anchored to a :30 TV spot, shot and produced by Michael Bay; Frito-Lay did a packaging program in Turkey and Russia; Duracell offered a gift with purchase promotion in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
Retail deals involve Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour and Toys “R” Us. Globally, they include Ripley in Chile, Walmart in Mexico, C&A in Brazil and Mark Fairwhale in China.