The summer blockbuster season has officially arrived as we get served this weekend the comic book adaptation of Thor. It is one of those mammoth releases, where terms such as “platform”, “multi-quadrant”, and “foreign territory’ get shuttled around as if most people understand what it all means. Suffice that, much like the lobby display pictured above, it is an over-sized movie designed to grab your attention, and make a huge impact. This all began back during the Super Bowl with an advance commercial. Overall it became somewhat overlooked — the trailer ranked in the bottom half of the commercial rankings – but then another inspiration came out of that huge night.
One of the most popular ads that evening was a car commercial which involved a kid dressed up as Darth Vader and his dad helping come to grip with his “powers”. Marvel decided to do something of a send up, using a tyke dressed as Thor in their version, with mixed results.
Appealing to various cultures and international segments is the goal of any comic-book epic film as it gets rolled out overseas. This no light task either, considering here they are dealing with a property rooted in Nordic mythology, and the central image of the film bears the name “Mjolnir”. (Most will simply resort to calling it “Thor’s Hammer”.) The Marvel/Universal effort seems to have found traction with international audiences, as the U.S. is the last market to see the film roll out. This property is showing to have a wide appeal across demographics.
However one group has resisted. It was reported that the potentially lucrative white-supremacist segment will resist buying tickets. A group called the Council of Conservative Citizens is calling for a boycott of the film. Turns out they are rather piqued about the casting of black actor Idris Elba in the role of Norse god Heimdall. If you really want to have some fun at the expense of these xenophobes you can point out to them that this American production, with a Nordic character, who is played by an Australian actor, and has promotional tie-ins reaching all the way to the Philippines. There the waffle-kiosk chain Waffle Time is offering up a collection of themed toys with a qualifying purchase.
Stateside one of the primary sponsors is Acura Motors. Sure, at first a Japanese auto-maker throwing its heft behind a Scandinavian myth seems out of place — shouldn’t Saab, or Volvo be involved here? This is actually a cagey bit of product placement. Acura is providing the vehicles serving as the fleet for the defense agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. portrayed in the film. This will be the umbrella agency involving the collection of numerous super heroes under the banner of the upcoming Avengers franchise. This summer’s Captain America will be the next of those elements (including Iron Man and The Hulk, and Nick Fury, who is on the way next summer) will have been introduced and thus their forces will join for numerous movies to come. Acura, so to speak, will be along for the ride.
Acura has been deeply involved, and working very early in the proceedings. They have been giving strong television ad support, showroom promotions, as well as a deeply immersive web presence where fans can sign up to become S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and complete tasks to promote themselves higher in the organization. Acura also has appeared at numerous comic book conventions and auto shows, bringing along the cars and setting up S.H.I.E.L.D. recruitment field offices.
Now here is something I am certain few people had ever considered. What would you say to an officially-licensed, super hero table? The design firm “Studio Dror” came up with a special table for S.H.I.E.L.D. and it is also available for purchase. In the name of synergy this collaboration is between Studio Dror and Marvel, and is said to be inspired by the Acura automobiles. Now after all that you might expect something a bit more inspired than the rectangle. Truthfully it does come off with numerous features – concealed compartments, sunken Bose speakers, and a hidden iPod dock. Below the surface is where the logoed leg supports are noticed.
You also find a strong synergy going on with the other promotional partners. Burger King is the fast food backer of this film, with the requisite kid’s meal toys that are just as impressive as those found in the Philippines, if not more so. Dr. Pepper is working in conjunction with the fast-food giant (their products are placed in stores) as well as running their own promotions for the film.
The soft drink maker has film graphics on much of its packaging, including a run of six cans featuring characters from the movie.
Coinciding with this is a contest where players can win the Thor-themed prizes of “Flight, Strength, or Speed”. This means you might get the opportunity to ride in a fighter jet, win what is described as a super car, or you have the chance to, “Transform your body with Thor’s personal trainer.” I’m assuming this would be the trainer of star Chris Hemsworth, and not some Scandinavian workout deity. (No sign that NordicTrack is involved here, by the way.) Winners are determined by finding game codes on cans and bottle caps and then entering them at DrPepper.com/promotions/thor.
Another way to win is to look for a super-special seventh container. This one is hidden in various packages and features Mjolnir. However for this quest (as the company has deemed it) the soda company simply refers to it as the “Hammer Can”.
Convenience store chain 7-11 Stores has continued its immersion into Hollywood promotions. In stores they offered up collections of characters on both their Slurpee and Big Gulp products, as well as two figurine cups of Thor and The Destroyer, and a collection of spoon-straws with character figures. This will also make for the second time that their chain will actually be featured on screen. In 2009 they teamed with “Terminator: Salvation”, and numerous scenes of that film played out in one of their stores. And, just like in that film, “Thor” shows us one of their stores being destroyed on camera.
To further promote the film they have concocted a new Slurpee flavor, “Blue Lightning Blast”. In case you are wondering what lightning tastes like it is described as, “A thunderous blend of raspberry and tangerine”. And to further show the corporate cooperation, the flavor is provided by Hawaiian Punch — a division of Dr.Pepper.
Now I could lapse here into the role of the outraged fanboy, and express wild dismay at naming a flavor “lightning” after the God of Thunder, but those basement-dwelling obsessives always make me uneasy. Plus you really cannot have thunder without lightning, so I’ll just shut up about it now. I’m too busy trying to pronounce “Mjolnir” with a frozen tongue.