From "Thor" to "Iron Man" to "Heroes," product placement deals are putting cars center stage in film and television. Here are 10 examples.
'Thor' - Acura
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. drove the Acura MDX and ZDX in "Thor." Acura justified the product placement partly through equating the shieldlike grille of the cars with the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division. In the movie, Agent Phil Coulson gets the ZDX while unnamed agents drive the MDX, suggesting the company car ladder at S.H.I.E.L.D.
The fifth movie in the "Fast and The Furious" franchise, "Fast Five," prominently featured the Dodge Charger. The 2012 Dodge Charger R/T shown in the movie had a special matte paint job. Along with the movie appearance, Dodge offers a special Fast Five edition of the Charger R/T, complete with "Fast Five" logos sewn into the seat covers and a 500-watt stereo system.
The live-action movie franchise based on the animated "Transformers" series has heavy involvement from GM, most notably with the main character, Bumblebee, which takes the form of a modern Chevy Camaro. GM embraces the tie-in, featuring a statue of Bumblebee in robot form at auto shows. Chevy even offered a Bumblebee appearance package for the Camaro, with "Transformers" badges.
Vampire Edward Cullen drove into the first "Twilight" movie in a Volvo C30. Youth interest in the brand got a shot in the arm, so Volvo became more seriously involved with the series, promoting a Volvo XC60 by having Edward upgrade to the larger car. The original book actually had Edward driving a Volvo S60R.
Along with a concentrated effort to advance the technology of its cars, Audi has also been engaged in a big marketing push, jumping on the "Iron Man" bandwagon with the Audi R8. Although the R8 is a niche car, no other Audi model would look as dramatic in Tony Stark's garage. The product placement continued in "Iron Man 2" with an R8 V10 Spyder, suggesting Stark took a trip to his local Audi dealer between movies.
James Bond has been associated with Aston Martin ever since he drove a DB5 in the 1964 film "Goldfinger." Aston Martin made sure to get in on the Daniel Craig reboot of the franchise, the 2006 "Casino Royale." That film featured the DBS V12, which continued on as Bond's ride in "Quantum of Solace."
One of Audi's earlier marketing efforts this century involved building a special car, the RSQ, for the sci-fi thriller "I, Robot." The concept RSQ shows many elements that would become standard in Audi models, such as its large grille and multimedia interface. Converse, FedEx, JVC, and even Tecate also placed products in the film.
The television series "Fringe" has featured Ford vehicles prominently, with the main character, FBI agent Olivia Dunham, driving a Ford Taurus. This product placement has even gone so far as to portray her using Sync voice command to place a phone call while driving. Ford also got the Flex into the show, driven by Leonard Nimoy, as shown in this photo.
In the third season of USA Network's "Burn Notice" television series, character Fiona Glenanne shows up with a new Hyundai Genesis Coupe. The product placement gets heavy when Sam Axe, played by Bruce Campbell, pauses to admire the car.
In the first season of "Heroes," unbreakable high-school cheerleader Claire Bennet's family has a Nissan Rogue, a car that she seems to cherish. Nissan used the show to help generate awareness for the launch of the new model. Similarly, Nissan launched its Versa in another season of the show.