A little more than a month before Paramount and Marvel unleash "Thor" on May 6, Acura, Dr. Pepper, 7-Eleven, Visa and Burger King are prepping to roll out TV, radio and online campaigns that tie in their brands with the god of thunder's first outing at the megaplex. Walmart is a major retail partner.
All but Acura and Visa had backed previous Marvel releases in some form ("Thor" will be 7-Eleven's eighth teaming with a Marvel superhero).
Honda's luxury brand had been looking for projects that could get Acura in front of more moviegoers through the branded entertainment arm of ad agency RP&, a division of RPA, and its exec Steve Rossmann, a former Gersh agent. When "Thor" offered an automaker the chance to serve as the official wheels of spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D, Acura was quick to lock down its first film partnership.
"Getting to be the official car of S.H.I.E.L.D sold it for us," said Susie Rossick, Acura's national advertising manager. "To have that role in the film and in future films was attractive to us."
S.H.I.E.L.D, the secret government org that recruits Marvel's superheroes as a crime-fighting force, made cameos in the two "Iron Man" pics and "The Incredible Hulk." The group will play a larger role in "Thor" and future films, guaranteeing any automaker appearances in multiple franchises for years to come.
Acura especially gravitated toward a pairing with S.H.I.E.L.D due to the org's image of being advanced and innovative, aspects with which the automaker likes to associate itself.
The design of Acura's own shield-like front fascia on its vehicles and corporate logo was a coincidence, but didn't hurt seal the deal.
Car partners are "someone you need to spend a little more time thinking about," said Bob Sabouni, senior VP of business development and promotions for Marvel, which had previously landed Audi to serve as Iron Man's preferred carmaker. "It's something that gets noticed. You have to have the right car."
As a result of its deal, Acura's lineup of recently redesigned sedans and SUVs gets roughly two minutes of screen time in the pic, a considerable amount of exposure when it comes to product placement.
In return, Acura will help Marvel and Par promote "Thor" through the launch of a micro website that recruits consumers to become S.H.I.E.L.D agents, play games and design their own agency vehicle. It's also buying TV spots, print ads and installing signage and offering customers early screenings at its dealerships.
Acura is also touring a series of events like Chicago fanboy fest C2E2, Florida's MegaCon and the New York Auto Show with recruitment booths that will feature a S.H.I.E.L.D agent car with weaponry like a sonic canon.
In order to pull off the concept of turning each of its films into a chapter of an overall universe, Marvel said it needed to broker deals with brands that were "like-minded" and could be "dedicated to a plan" that embodies the characters and messaging of the films in programs "that is smart for both of us."
Sabouni said Acura has "bought into the concept and is having a lot of fun with it."
"It's always important to give your partners a little corner of the movie," Marvel's Sabouni said. "We've learned how to do that over the years."
Doing so helps giving the bad news that a partner's products will be destroyed on film a little easier. In scenes, a 7-Eleven store and Acura's vehicles are obliterated by the villainous Destroyer.
"They definitely have allowed us to play a little bit more," Sabouni said.
Acura approved the destruction "because there wasn't anything wrong with the car," Rossick said. "They weren't the reason things were blowing up."
The full article can be found here. Thanks to Marcus D. for emailing in the article.
I think this is a really good move for Acura. Far too long I have seen other automakers like Audi and Mercedes get featured in movies and thought to myself, "Why doesn't Acura do the same?" The only time I remember seeing an Acura vehicle featured in a movie was in Pulp Fiction, when The Wolf shows up to help out the fellas.
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