The alliterative Fast & The Furious film franchise fifth installment [insert auto metaphor] into theaters this weekend, and at first you are struck by the very pedestrian title. The rumor behind that decision is Universal feared Fast & the Furious Five would create some confusion in audiences with this summer’s animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 2, because that release features a group known as The Furious Five. The studio suits may have had a point; though the two films seem completely dissimilar when it came down to comparing Vin Diesel with talking animals who could tell the difference?
As expected the marketing push behind it is understandably very car-centric, and the primary branding involves the cars on screen. Dodge Motors has been involved with this franchise from the beginning and they are a major component of this high-budget installment. All of the primary vehicles – from the featured Dodge challengers to even those Dodge chargers used by the police – carry the nameplate. The automaker of course has gone full-out in their promotional push, even offering up branded merchandise for the film on their website. Nothing expresses your asphalt credentials quite like cell phone skins.
The Dodge Racing team in the NASCAR circuit was incorporated as well. Their rolling billboard featured the movie on the car’s graphics for Robby Gordon during the month of April, appearing at Talladega, Martinsville, and Texas Motor Speedway. Other promotions with the team involved a series of contests where you could win a tricked Dodge, and another involved 200 winners invited to an advanced screening of the film with Robby Gordon himself.
Adding to the placements, contests, and commercials, Dodge also sponsored the world premiere, held at the film’s location, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For the international premiere Universal teamed with a relatively new company, NowLive, an internet broadcast provider. The event was broadcast live on the film’s official website, at NowLive.com, as well as on the movie’s FaceBook page, and Dodge.com. This select viewing event was also seen at theaters in ten cities, where fans watched the red-carpet proceedings before an advanced screening of the film.
This was not the only use of FaceBook for the push. Early on the first trailer for the picture was debuted on the fan page for star Vin Diesel. This is no small occurrence, because amazingly he sits with over 22 million followers.
Also employed on the social networking site was one of the games. Logically, Car Town was the portal of choice. Players in that realm could purchase tickets to the film directly within the game. A purchase from the Regal Cinemas ticket link would provide the player with a Dodge Challenger. There are also a number of in-game destinations, with cars and graphics from the movie seen, and a chance at rebuilding the iconic vehicle in the film.
Another social platform used was expected, but with something of a twist. The studio held nine running contests of what were deemed “Twitter Races”. Players would have follow designated accounts and when various hash-tag messages were sent out responses were to be sent. “#F5Ready” and “#F5Set” indicated players to prepare, with the question coming in with “#F5Go”. The first to respond with correct answers to “@FastFive” could win cash or tickets, and qualify for larger prizes. The adrenaline had to be coursing through the thumbs of many a fan.
Adidas registered in as the official footwear of the movie. In conjunction with the footwear retailer Journeys the shoe manufacturer came up with a branded shoe. This also paved the way for the go-to option with most of the promotional partners: a contest where the grand prize was a trip to the premiere in Brazil.
The obvious choices among the promotional partners were automotive companies. Off-road racing supplier General Tire featured a sweepstakes with the film, this involving a grand prize trip to the Brazilian premiere as well.
Also seeing a great benefit was the high-end custom company Memphis Car Audio Systems. While going the usual route of offering up sweepstakes and in-store promotions (the obligatory trip to the premiere, as well as products from sister company Fulmer Helmets) they enjoyed having their products featured on screen. It turns out Mr. Diesel’s tricked-out ride came courtesy of Memphis, and that product placement should register in the minds of custom aficionados.
Another partner was Auto Trader Classics, playing off the preferred classic autos in the film. They too managed to come up with a sweepstakes, however it pales somewhat, as it was involving only a round trip to L.A. (For all the automotive companies tagging along with the feature they sure involve a significant amount of air travel.)
One company hewing closer to the theme was NOS Energy drinks. A preferred brand in the video gaming circuits this company has also found they have traction with the modified-auto and street competition set. Their name is synonymous with the nitrous-oxide canisters used to ramp up acceleration in drag racing. The company sponsored a series of car gatherings and auto shows across the country in conjunction with the premiere of the film.
For those of you who are not blessed with the disposable income to lavish attention on your vehicle (or if you are too mechanically stunted to modify your ride) you can still have the catharsis of speed. Twitter Races, and virtual “Car Town” rides won’t cut it for you. Be satisfied then, that Gameloft is here for you. They have provided a Fast Five racing simulator app for the iPhone and iPad. Now you can tear up the streets of Rio in a hybrid Furious/Oceans 11 storyline right in the palm of your hand.