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Marty’s Marketing Minutia: Mission Possible

Does good movie box office translate into good car sales?

by on Dec.27, 2011

Actors Paula Patton and Tom Cruise with their BMW i8 in the new Mission Impossible movie.

Last Friday night, along with thousands of other invitees around the country, I attended a special sneak preview of the new Tom Cruise action movie, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol.  I was lucky.  Most of the folks who attended the official opening weekend for the fourth in the MI series had to lay out $8, $10, even $12 a ticket – driving the latest entry in the Mission Impossible franchise to a weekend box office tally of $26.6 million.

So, not only did the fast-moving flick win rave reviews from the likes of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and NPR, but it snatched the number-one box office spot – helping reposition Cruise as America’s top-drawing action star.

News Now!

As we all know automobile manufacturers have long made the pilgrimage to tinsel town to get product placement of their logoed vehicles in thriller, chase, spy, intrigue, travel and comical movies. Often the cars or trucks are just – in Hollywood parlance – extras or character actors. They don’t play an integral role in plot development. But there are some films in which the cars help move the plot line forward and have an important role.

Actress Paula Patton introduces the BMW i8 at the L.A. Auto Show last November.

Even then, since they’re not the movies stars – no agents, managers, or PR people to negotiate for them — you won’t find those inanimate objects listed in the opening credits above the title or even in the below the title line as “also starring” or “featuring” roles. Even when all the below-the-line people and services crawl goes up as audiences walk out of the movie there maybe, just maybe, a thank you credit line. Is there no justice?

But well planned and placed vehicles in the right genre do add to the entertainment value of the movie. And when the brand undertakes a very good promotional, publicity and social media program along with their dealers, the buzz value alone is terrific. So for this reason I nominate the BMW brand as the next logo in cement or asphalt on the pot-holed Hollywood Drive of Fame.  There it joins other auto-movie-stars including Aston Martin, Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Range Rover, Corvette and others.

There were four Bimmer’s in the 4th generation Mission Impossible. The George Clooney-esk star of MIGP was the handsome, smart Efficient Dynamics concept vehicle now known as i8 (like a Prince name change, right?) It played a vital role as Tom Cruise — in his role as Ethan Hawk, and joined by lusty and busty passenger Paula Patton in her role as Jane Carter — drove the sleek battery sports car through the crowded streets of night-time Mumbai, India.

It reminded me of the 1971 Red Mustang in an early James Bond movie as it drove at night through Las Vegas but arrived at its destination without a dent, ding or scratch.

The 6-Series convertible also put in a screen cameo, as it drove through a blinding sandstorm in Dubai, dodging pedestrians, cars, souks and other obstacles with numerous fender-benders in an eerie, almost supernatural chase scene – before its fatal crash.  The scene-stealer was the 1-Series coupe’s tour-de-force in a thrilling chase scene in an ultra-modern round garage in the fabled Indian city. Whether it was real or CGI who cares?! This sequence had all the force, drama and dynamic force of the French Connection’s Pontiac Le Mans and deserves the best supporting car award at the next Oscars event.

Yes, I mentioned four BMWs, but the X-3, however, was barely seen.

Adding to the presence of BMW vehicles featured in the film, the company has launched a Mission: Impossible-themed marketing campaign dubbed “Mission to Drive.”

The national program includes a branded advertising campaign in broadcast, print, online and in-dealer activations which the media release describes as a limited time “self-destructing” sales offer running now through January 2.  There was also a social media program on FaceBook and there’s a ‘partners link’ to BMW on the home page of the movie www.missionimpossible.com. A consumer contest awarded an an all-expense paid trip to the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol U.S. premiere tonight in New York City.

Bottom line? BMW got the bang for their buck, didn’t they?

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