Audi believes in Tony Stark.
When he’s not saving the world in his famed Iron Man suit, the wisecracking billionaire engineer has doubled as a pitchman for the brand in several Marvel superhero blockbusters by driving variations of the R8 — beginning with the first Iron Man movie in 2008.
That year was the start of an upward trajectory for Audi, which used the tech-laden R8 to help reshape how the brand represented itself, said Loren Angelo, director of marketing for Audi of America. The Iron Man alignment, he said, was a key platform in setting the tone.
In the latest Marvel epic, Captain America: Civil War, Stark’s ride is the 610-hp R8 V10 plus coupe.
“When we read the script for Iron Man, he was someone who was self-made. He utilized technology and a certain level of personal intelligence to create great things,” Angelo told Automotive News. “That was a perfect fit for Audi because that’s exactly what we’ve done with our brand.”
The Marvel Cinematic Universe and its growing catalog of movies and shows is a lush environment for automakers looking to attach themselves to pop-culture icons and big audiences. Audi has used its silver-screen presence as a platform that dealers can build on with early-screening events for customers, while Hyundai leverages product placement in Marvel Netflix productions such as “Daredevil” to reach “cord cutters” who have shunned cable TV subscriptions.
All of the superheroes flaunt their unique powers, but they share a common ability: getting attention.
“Consumers are much more difficult to find these days with the proliferation of digital,” said Monique Kumpis, Hyundai’s senior group manager of advertising, adding: “Not everybody is watching linear television, and even when they are, our competitors there are outspending us, so we always have to be on the lookout for smarter ways to reach these audiences.”