Although most automakers work to get their brands into movies, Audi has been among the most successful in recent years thanks in no small part to their partnership with Marvel.
In a recent interview with Audi’s own “magazine,” Audi Soul, the brand’s head of product placement, Kai Mensing, talked about how Audis get into movies. And the process, as Mensing describes it, is surprisingly easy going.
“There is no standard process,” says Mensing. “Sometimes we contact the studio, sometimes it is the other way around. We also get calls from agencies and contacts from the film industry or sometimes even directors or members of the cast who know us.”
Then, naturally, the team reads the script to make sure the project makes sense for Audi. Mensing is adamant, though, that Audi doesn’t like to make changes to scripts.
“Our goal is the organic, authentic integration of our brand and our products in entertainment for the general public, so we don’t force things,” he explains. “We adapt to the story. If the script requires a sporty car, we deliver an Audi R8, or one of the RS models, for example.”
That means, though, that Audi doesn’t say yes to everything. Certain films fit the remit better than others.
“There is no pronounced preference, but of course action films are a very rewarding genre because we can integrate the cars in a more dynamic way,” says Mensing. “That is preferable to static placements.”
Sometimes a script just falls into your lap, as was the case with 50 Shades of Grey.
“The books mention Audi cars several times, so it was logical that they would also be part of the films,” says Mensing. “None of the scenes in the film that are showing the Audi will be raising any eyebrows, so we didn’t hesitate to cooperate.”
There are times, however, when things aren’t quite that easy. As was the case with I, Robot. The production didn’t require any old Audi, it necessitated a futuristic concept unlike anything else on the road at that point.
In situations like that, close cooperation is required between Audi and the studio, according to Mensing. The whole process requires the film crew and Audi Design to get together to decide what the car needs to be. Audi Design then takes off, lets their imaginations go wild, and then goes back to the film crew.
“That design is then assessed by the film studio’s creative team and adapted to the film’s aesthetics and artistic guidelines,” says Mensing. “That design then goes back to Audi for its review. Things go back and forth like that a number of times until everyone is satisfied with the result.”
The benefit of doing that isn’t just exposure, though. Sometimes, the movies can act as a kind of focus group for new features and designs.
So what exactly is Mensing’s favorite piece of Audi placement in a film?
“The chase with the Audi SQ7 in ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ from the Marvel series,” he says. “Creating that scene was extremely challenging because we had to work with lots and lots of cars in a tunnel for several weeks. Particularly, the challenging stunt at the end of the scene required meticulous preparation by the stunt crew and our technical experts.”
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