Audi has joined forces with Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, Inc., for the release of the movie version of Iron Man due in theaters May 2, and will launch a global marketing campaign highlighting the role of Audi in the film.
Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark -- the title character in the film. His superpowers are the result of the highly versatile and indestructible high-tech armor that he developed himself. When he is without his suit, the technically-adept billionaire relies on the Audi R8.
"In addition to being a billionaire industrialist, Tony Stark is also a mastermind of invention and engineering," says Scott Keogh, Chief Marketing Officer for Audi of America. "The R8 is the ultimate execution of Audi design and engineering, so it perfectly reflects his character."
Tony Stark is smart, successful and uncompromising. And naturally he puts his extraordinary capabilities to work for the good of mankind -- in the form of Iron Man, his Super Hero alter-ego. No other comic book hero has such extensive knowledge of technology or of the opportunities offered by innovation and cutting-edge ideas.
"The R8 is the perfect car for Tony Stark, Iron Man director Jon Favreau said: "It's a technological masterpiece. Plus it's fast, safe and sure to be noticed." The leading lady, Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow (Virginia "Pepper" Potts), drives an Audi S5 in the film.
The global Audi campaign themed to the film launches with a special micro site, where Audi and Iron Man fans around the world will be able to immerse themselves in Iron Man content. Early in April, communications will be stepped up, with television and cinema commercials, and outdoor advertising in the United States and international territories.
"We are thrilled to have Audi contributing to our global marketing plans supporting this exciting film," commented LeeAnne Stables, SVP Worldwide Marketing Partnerships for Paramount. "Audi's creative collaboration with the studio on their campaign has resulted in a perfect meld with the movie and that's a dream partner."
"We hope this is just the beginning of our relationship with Audi as Marvel Studios goes from our first release, Iron Man, to a full slate of self- produced films," said Kevin Feige, President, Production of Marvel Studios and Iron Man producer. "Audi was an exceptional partner, and we look forward to seeing their brand come alive on screen."
Iron Man also stars Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow, Oscar nominees Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges and Shaun Toub. Iron Man is directed by Jon Favreau from a screenplay by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway. The film is produced by Avi Arad and Kevin Feige. The executive producers are Louis D'Esposito, Peter Billingsley, Jon Favreau, Ari Arad, Stan Lee and David Maisel.
AUDI ON THE BIG SCREEN IN IRON MAN
In the film, Tony Stark begins to secretly build the incredible Iron Man suit in his garage workshop. In fact, the billionaire technophile has his Audi R8 parked nearby which fits Stark's Super Hero guise very well: The slits through which Iron Man views the world resemble the all-LED headlamps on the R8; Stark's artificial heart with its ring of lights recalls the sports car's exposed mid-engine and his immensely tough armor is matched by the Audi Space Frame, the high-strength aluminum structure on which this hi-tech automobile is built. The film's hero along with his favored mode of transport both underscore Audi's famous technical leadership claim: "Vorsprung durch Technik."
The attitude that the leading character represents was a key driver in the decision of Audi involvement in this production: interaction between the role, the movie as a whole and the product is the decisive factor in successful product placement.
The Audi R8 is off to a promising acting career in Hollywood. Indeed, it is currently one of the most sought after cars for film and television integrations which seems natural for a car that is designed and hand-built according to Audi's famous "Vorsprung durch Technik" philosophy. We all know that the road to stardom is full of surprises, but a car such as the R8 guarantees top dynamic performance, technological leadership and, thanks to its quattro permanent all-wheel drive, clings firmly to the road to make sure you arrive where you want to go.
The combination of automobile and screen hero has to be credible -- actor Robert Downey Jr. sees it this way too. "I grew up with the Audi mystique. This carmaker has always been right in the forefront when it comes to technology, performance, innovation and safety. I see Tony and myself as worthy ambassadors for Audi -- we're genuine fans of the make."
Keogh considers Downey's enthusiasm an element that made Audi and the film a perfect marriage. "When the star of a project is a brand enthusiast and the character matches the brand values, the integration is seamless," says Keogh. "We're fortunate in the Hollywood community because so many of the tastemakers are already Audi drivers."
In the film, Tony Stark's loyal and dedicated assistant Virginia "Pepper" Potts, played by Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow, drives an Audi S5. Keogh comments: "Potts is an intelligent, ambitious woman who knows exactly what she wants. The sporty dynamics and elegant finesse of the Audi S5 suit her character well." Her honest approach is evident as the plot progresses: She supports Tony Stark unhesitatingly -- managing the personal and professional "details" of his life.
AUDI GLOBAL MARKETING CAMPAIGN, UNIQUE TIES TO IRON MAN
A notable feature of the visual elements is that they were produced especially for Audi and are made up of original scenes from the film. "One Man. One Machine. One Mission." is the slogan alongside the micro-site. On its complex home page the user can pay a virtual visit to Tony Stark's top-secret workshop. Two perspectives are available: Through the eyes of Tony Stark, exclusive footage and background information on the movie can be called up and viewed. Alternatively the special "Iron Man Vision" HUD (Head Up Display) can be used, for instance to explore the design details of the Audi R8 and A5. The micro-site 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.
The micro-site is live at www.audi.com/ironman.
The key marketing visual shows Iron Man with the Audi R8. This action-packed visual layout recalls a movie theater poster and is intended to draw Internet traffic to this dedicated web site. The decision in favor of this theater-style campaign was a deliberate one, with the aim of strengthening the link between the Audi R8 and Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. In communication terms it is very different from Audi's regular advertising.
"We wanted to create an eye-catching campaign that will connect with both Iron Man buffs and film lovers," says Scott Keogh. Advertising measures are also being put into effect at Audi dealers, during the month of March.
Eleven exclusive video clips will be released on a weekly basis on the micro-site until the time the movie reaches theaters on May 2 including exclusive behind-the-scenes content, interviews with the cast and crew, Audi Iron Man commercials, background on use of Audi vehicles on the movie set, etc. A stream of truly appealing and regularly refreshed content, will be available only at www.audi.com/ironman.