The Bourne Ultimatum: Product placement done right
We were well aware of Volkswagen's placement in The Bourne Ultimatum thanks to press releases out of Wolfsburg that prepared us for an epic car chase involving a Touareg 2. When an automaker brags about its product placement, we usually start worrying that the movie will be overrun with subliminal adverts. For instance, before Michael Bay went shopping for actors at General Motors, there was the all-GM highway scene in Matrix Reloaded. The heavy-handedness of such product placement that GM seems to favor can instantly take a moviegoer out of the moment, so we were justifiably nervous to see the VW Touareg 2 make its big screen debut.
I've just returned from seeing The Bourne Ultimatum and can report that Volkswagen's product placement was very understated and tastefully done. The climactic car chase involving the Touareg 2 was incredible to watch (and sounded even better), but the fact you're watching a VW is hardly noticed since a fender bender early on completely rips off the Touareg's grille, taking the VW emblem with it. Likewise, Jason Bourne's world isn't populated entirely by late model VW, Audi and Lamborgini vehicles. A last-gen Lincoln Navigator figures prominently, as does a Chevy Impala cop car and many older Chrysler 300Ms.
There were two other vehicles in the movie that VW no doubt paid to have placed. One is a European spec Golf GT Sport briefly driven by Julia Stiles' character, and the other a previous-gen Audi A6. Both are onscreen for a short time only, and the fact the A6 is not the current generation model makes its placement even less noticeable.
While most marketers can't argue with the effectiveness of GM's overwhelming product placement in Transformers, regardless of how it negatively affected the viewing experience, we felt VW deserved an extra mention for its welcomed restraint in The Bourne Ultimatum.