Anyone who has seen a classic James Bond car chase scene knows the powerful marketing value that action film placement can lend to automakers. Since martial arts reign supreme as China’s preferred outlet for action, Volkswagen decided to take matters into its own hands this summer by making its own branded “micro-film” with as many images of zooming luxury vehicles as it can fit into 16 minutes.
Although the film, entitled Extreme Pursuit in English (Ji Su Wujian,《极速无间》), features heavy-hitting celebrities, including Matrix stars Keanu Reeves and Tiger Chen, the car models by Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, and Lamborghini steal the spotlight in this commercial within a movie.
In order to ensure that physical fight scenes don’t overshadow the vehicles, the main protagonists are not trained martial artists, but rather a group of award-winning boxers. In addition, all the characters understandably appear to enjoy car pursuits over physical altercations.
As the foreigner in the film, Reeves plays the crime lord “Mr. D”, a villain who really enjoys his black Bugatti. Notably, his henchmen drive a series of black Audis reminiscent of the car of choice for China’s government officials, while each hero drives a colorful model of one of the five featured brands.
Some marketing experts believe that these branded mini-movies are the way of the future for marketing to Chinese consumers in the digital age, while others argue that product placement in a full-length film is a more effective advertising tool in China.