Audi Building Brand Recognition on the Big Screen

For many, summer is synonymous with relaxing in a dark movie theater for hours at a time, soaking in the latest blockbusters and beating the heat. With this in mind, many major automakers have negotiated agreements with film studios and directors to feature their latest and greatest cars. Audi has found a way to partner up with two of this summer’s biggest productions, Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness through both product placement and an integrated marketing campaign.

The partnership between Audi and the Iron Man franchise is nothing new. Viewers of the first two films are familiarized with Tony Stark’s R8 and the various Audi sedans driven by more minor characters. This film sees Stark equipped with an R8 e-tron, a fully electric version of the company’s flagship supercar and prior Iron Man co-star, the R8. The e-tron is currently still a concept vehicle, with no set production plan, but will ideally provide a large publicity boost for Audi, similar to the boost provided by the Acura NSX Concept featured in The Avengers.

Audi also ran a promotional campaign in the months preceding the film’s release. Audi partnered with Marvel Entertainment to launch a digital “Steer the Story” Iron Man comic book that allowed fans to contribute to the storyline and design of the comic, with fans voting on the preferred choice through social media. Audi cars featured prominently in the stories after the company provided aspiring artists with instructions on how to properly draw not only the Iron Man suit and Tony Stark, but also the Audi R8 e-tron.

Audi’s partnership with Star Trek: Into Darkness has been slightly subtler thus far. While the film’s official automotive partner is Mazda, Audi has completely outdone the Japanese automaker with its “Spock vs. Spock” ad, which has now gone viral. Since its original publication on May 6, the video has received roughly 5.4 million views. The video features a race between actor Zach Quinto, who currently portrays the alien-human hybrid character Spock in the Star Trek films, and actor Leonard Nimoy, who played the same character on the original Star Trek television show.

The ad, loaded with assorted pop-culture references, sees Quinto and Nimoy racing to a golf club, Quinto in an Audi and Nimoy in a Mercedes-Benz, with a free lunch for the winner on the line. Predictably, the Audi arrives first. The short also features an appearance from Stanford University’s self-driving Audi, capping off the futuristic ad.

These campaigns are emblematic of the trend of automotive product placement, and ensure that Audi will be reaching the broadest audience possible this summer.