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Cars Are the Stars in More Films, TV Shows

Cars Are the Stars in More Films, TV Shows

By Jeff Youngs, February 27, 2012
The latest example of the product-placement rage among auto brands involves a bit of a twist: Mazda is partnering with Universal Pictures for a promotion centering on the 3D version of the film, Dr. Seuss's The Lorax. And because the film is animated, it'll be a pixilated version of the Mazda CX-5-not the real-life version of the crossover-that will be featured.

Mazda actually commissioned its U.S. design chief, Derek Jenkins, to work with the filmmakers to create a stylized look for the CX-5 that didn't violate either the vehicle design or the Seuss aesthetic, according to MediaPost.

It's another example of the increasing mutual accommodation being demonstrated by Hollywood as well as the auto industry in the interests of more extensive, and presumably effective, product placement.

Volkswagen, for instance, worked with ABC's hit Wednesday-night situation comedy, The Middle, to build an entire episode around a new Passat that the Heck family was babysitting for a few days for a neighbor. In the course of the story, the Passat got to show off a variety of attributes, including an interior comfortable enough for regular napping.

And similarly, but not as extensively, a couple of FBI agents in the Fox Friday-night drama, Fringe, took time to recharge a Nissan Leaf they were driving even though they were smack in the middle of investigating a case.

Reviewers also noted how BMW products, including a 6 Series convertible and an i8 concept car, were woven throughout the recent Tom Cruise movie, Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol.

Auto brands and producers increasingly are drawn by symbiotic interests to broaden placement. Auto executives have realized that they are sometimes paying for commercial time only to find out that time-sensitive consumers may be fast-forwarding right through their ads, and they know that effective placements will clearly earn some attention from consumers.

Meanwhile, film and TV producers are looking for ways to defray production costs in the increasingly cost-competitive and unforgiving environment of Hollywood.

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