Thursday, June 13, 2013

Will product placement in a movie, based on a video game, make people want to buy a Ford Mustang?

As part of its 2014 celebration of the Mustang’s 50th anniversary, Ford has announced that they will be developing a campaign based on “Need for Speed.”  The latest version of the EA game is due out in November 2013, while the movie will premiere in March 2014.  The Mustang will be featured prominently in the movie’s cross-country race.  And, Ford will support both the launch of the game and the launch of the movie. (Greenberg, 2013)

The last time a movie made me want to buy a car was when The Italian Job remake featured the Mini Cooper.  So what do you think?  Will this be an effective campaign?

Greenberg, K. (2013, June 10)  Ford Gets The ‘Need’ For Mustang.  Retrieved June 12, 2013, from


  1. Up-front disclaimer: I don't drive, and have never needed to, living in NYC. While cars are nice to look at, they've never been realistic or anything beyond aesthetically appealing to me.

    Need for Speed is an old surviving franchise in video gaming. There's been reasonable faith in the franchise, as new entries from the property are generally expected to be of at least competent quality.

    That said, cars in racing games are a difficult advertising opportunity because of significant saturation. Sure, the new Mustang may be what appears on demonstrations in stores and on the beginning screen of the game. But knowing how these games go, one of two things will happen.

    1. In order to create a sense of progression, players will not be allowed to use the powerful Mustang from the beginning, instead having to earn the power by accomplishing things with less powerful cars. While a powerful framing device for the Mustang, it means that a significant amount of time in the game will not be spent with the car.


    2. In the interest of balance, there will be other cars of equal power, handling, etc. to the Mustang, meaning that other cars will be equally as appealing from a gameplay perspective, making Need for Speed a potentially inefficient media purchase.

    As far as the movie tie-in goes... movies tend to be about people. Not enough people know enough about cars to understand why one car performs better than another aside from simple things like "bigger engine" or "more horsepower." So without that understanding, it's hard to create a car/mechanically focused narrative of a race that audiences can emotionally connect to. Instead, movie narratives rely on comparisons of the drivers' skill and composure or each driver's personal stake in the race, rendering the car a much less significant means to an end.

    To that end, the article provides the following:
    Ford says the Mustang will be featured "prominently" throughout the film and will "become part of the mythology of the movie."

    The effectiveness of a strategy like this in this media choice (movies) is entirely dependent on execution. I'm not sure I can even pin down a target for car movies, considering that they're also tying into video games. Older american men 45-65 who fondly remember other movies featuring the Mustang and have money to burn? Are these men potentially the parents or grandparents of the kids and new young professionals playing the games?

    In short, I don't know who the target is, and I'm not convinced they have an insight to work with. What would it be? "Cars are cool"? "Cars are America"? "Cars are freedom" has been done to death and back.

    There isn't anything particularly wrong with the media choice, but there doesn't seem to be a strategy beyond it. At best, all this spending may just serve to thwart Buyer's Remorse, which I have been told is an objective of a lot of automobile advertising.

  2. ~Jesse Stuart~
    As alluded to in the article, the Ford Mustang is an All-American classic muscle car. It has been around since the 60s, it is expensive, and it is highly sought after. It is not necessarily the "trendy new thing." It has been updated with each passing year and each model is just as expensive and envied as the one previous. The type of person who would buy a Ford Mustang would be a Male, age 45-65, with a lot of money. Kind of the typical Baby Boomer who has money to spend.

    This target market does not however line up with the target market of the Need For Speed videogames, or any videogames for that matter. I think the type of person that plays videogames would be Male, age 12-24, single, unemployed or working at most 30 hours a week. A Millenial.

    Under normal circumstances, I think this disparity between the target markets would prove fatal to this advertising campaign. Gamers can't afford one of the most expensive American muscle cars, and American muscle car enthusiasts are not interested in pretending to drive a Mustang on their tv or computer. Logic says product placement in a videogame would be a waste of money.

    HOWEVER, in this case, I don't think that actually matters. The Ford Mustang has been around since 1964, and has been updated constantly every since. If you think about all the other cars that were first manufactured in '64, mostly all of them are probably unheard of or forgotten today. Due to the Mustang's lasting appeal and success they have very little to lose and perhaps some more to gain by exploring different target markets. By testing the waters with different advertising methods and target markets they are potentially unlocking previously untapped revenue streams. An investment in the videogame-playing Millenials of today might result in sales farther down the line when the Millenials grow up and have money and cars to spend it on. Will they remember the cool Mustang they saw in the Need for Speed videogame/movie or the crappy whatever car that they inherited from their Aunt?

  3. “Ford Mustang has been a brand that has been there since the early sixties. Its advertisements used to feature in high circulation and prestigious journals and magazine besides the daily newspapers. Even in those days it had a macho image, as an all powerful car with a design punch; as a result it was co-branded in many a macho film, where the “hero” reigns supreme and
    is equally daredevil.

    Cinema is powerful medium with reach beyond the written word. It is the dramatic visuals, sound effects, music and state of the art post production techniques that not only stir the imagination of kids, but the adults as well. Plus, the Hollywood films have a brand image of their own along the celebrity actors, who become fashion or strength icons over a period of time. Hollywood films or the Cinema per say have the capacity to amplify the message directly as well as indirectly.

    In the normal case a film or TV advertisement also could convey the message, but cinema being a more powerful medium, there cannot be a better impact than co-branding the film “Need for Speed” and the product Ford Mustang. In that sense, I can say…… it makes a lot of sense!!”

  4. I think it's very good strategy for advertising cars - to put it in a video game and then movie, with a little period of time between, so potential buyers don't "forget".
    In my opinion, video games is the best way to advertise a car. The game almost gives you a chance "to drive" a car, but in virtual space, so your imagination works as well.
    Video games have inspired me to get my driver license. Movies make me wish to own one of the cars. If I wanr to buy a car and I see some in a movie I like, it's enough for me to get curios to go to dealership and check by myself how does it feel to be inside that car and drive it.