As the movie industry has grown, the number of companies wishing to exploit the industry for promotion of their own products has grown too. Today, every film you see will have some sort of product placement. Product placement can sometimes serve to help make the movie more believable or relatable, while other products are placed in the film solely for product’s own promotion. A prime example of product placement can be found within the partnership of Iron Man 2 and Audi.
Iron Man and Audi teamed up in the first Iron Man, but the movie’s success drove Audi to further their promotion agreement. See what I did there? For Iron Man 2, Audi was featured a considerable amount more than in the first Iron Man. Audi specifically centered their promotion of the R8 Spyder around its role in the film. Martin J Smith commented in his Advertising column, “the product appears like the full moon, the label always facing the camera” (2). This comment is very applicable when it comes to Audi’s representation in Iron Man 2. Their brand new R8 Spyder makes an appearance quite early in the movie. In the scene, Tony Stark walks out to his car and notices an attractive woman right next to it. However, the woman hands Tony a subpoena stating that the government wanted to take possession of the Iron Man suit (Iron Man 2). But hey, at least he got to keep the car! While the placement of the attractive girl next to the sleek car resulted in a comical effect, the association of a hot woman with the Audi logo provides the viewer with a connection of getting the hot girl by owning the car. In addition, the R8 Spyder commercial explicitly states that the car can get you the girl (Spyder Commercial). One of the focuses of the advertisement campaign for the R8 Spyder was definitely sex appeal as evident through the commercial and in the subpoena issuing scene in Iron Man 2.
Audi vehicles make several different appearances throughout the film, including a scene with Tony Stark driving the R8 Spyder with the convertible top down (Iron Man 2). Audi’s use of Iron Man 2, as a way of promoting their cars, was truly brilliant because it was very easy to build on the character of Tony Stark. If you have seen any of the Iron Man films, you know that Tony Stark is a billionaire, entrepreneur, and a ladies man. To accompany this persona, Tony is equipped with a plethora of gadgets. His character is essentially a fusion between Bill Gates and Hugh Hefner. Audi takes advantage of the natural envy that male members of the audience have for Tony Stark by associating their car with him. As a member of that male audience, I know that when I saw the Audi cars in Tony Stark’s possession, I thought about how cool it would be to have one, as well.
The R8 Spyder’s futuristic look was amplified further by the fact that most gadgets in Tony Stark’s arsenal, which are extremely advanced and, generally, not available to members of the public. Naturally, most male viewers would see the car and associate it with being as advanced as Tony Stark. It creates the logical train of thought that owning the car can make your social standing closer to that of a billionaire entrepreneur. Lundsford states in Everything’s an Argument that “In valid syllogisms, the conclusion follows logically and technically from the premises that lead up to it” (84). Audi relies on the viewers to develop the syllogism that Tony Stark owns sophisticated gadgets. Tony Stark owns an Audi. Therefore, Audi’s must be sophisticated.
In looking at whether or not the usage of Iron Man 2 as an advertising medium was effective at promoting Audi’s vehicles, it becomes clear that Audi definitely benefitted from the exposure that the film provided. The “Iron Man Audi” became a pop culture reference in the song “Lighters,” which is performed by Eminem and Royce Da 5’9. In the song, Royce Da 5’9 explicitly talks about the “Iron Man Audi” and how his ability to buy it for his friends presents him as being in an upper position in society (Lighters). While I do not believe that Iron Man 2 would have suffered by not using Audi in its movie, the usage of Audi definitely did not hurt the film’s success.
As the movie industry continues to grow, partnerships, such as Iron Man and Audi, will become a regular part of film making. Smith analyzed how these partnerships help pay for the cost of the movies, but he found that these advertising partnerships did not really address the problem of rising movie costs (Advertising 3). On this point, I disagree with Smith. In certain instances, these advertising partnerships definitely help to pay for the cost of the movie, even if the company being advertised will benefit the most from the arrangement. Either way, one thing is for certain. Audi profited significantly from its partnership with Iron Man 2.
Bad Meets Evil. “Lighters.” Hell: the sequel. Shady Records, 2011. CD.
Iron Man 2. Dir. Jon Favreau. Perf. Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow. Paramount Pictures, 2010. Film.