• Aug 12, 2007


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.


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  • 25 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      You must love all the Toyota adds on TV.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Autoblog: HELL YES. I boycotted Transformers, and because I wouldn't go, none of my car buddies went, because they were going to go with me until I explained WHY I wasn't going to PAY money to sit through 2 hours of GM advertising. That is 8 guys, which means 16 people with their girlfriends/fiances/wives who did NOT go to see Transformers, purely because of the BLATENT, horribly over the top product placement, and overly saturated world of just ONE kind of vehicle. It looked DUMB, and detracted from the movie. I might see it someday, but I'm not paying any money for it. GM should give away free DVDs of it at their dealerships, since it is one gigantic commercial.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Right. You didn't see the movie because of all the product placement in it that you learned all about when you didn't watch it.
      Kam
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hey wait! I thought VW's product placement in The Bourne Ultimatum had one fatal flaw: When that Touareg finally slams Bourne's cop car into a bridge the airbags don't deploy!

      I guess VW's safety systems are so incredibly unreliable that they don't ALWAYS work as they should.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Kam
        I thought the same about Casino Royale; after the really bad crash, the airbags of the Aston haven't gone off. I thought at the time that Ford must have been really annoyed about that.

        Obviously I won't be buying an Aston anymore, I think I'll buy something much safer, like a house.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Kam
        You're right. Most of those cars have a frillion airbags, and not a one went off. It's distracting for a car person.

        Also, the front end of that A6 would have been unrecognizable after driving into that SUV in the parking lot. That sort of thing really annoys me.
      • 7 Years Ago
      i said it in the last VW Borne thread and I'll say it again:

      it's not very good product placement when every VW in the movie gets owned by a backwards-driving chevy impala cop car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I am definately NOT a fan of VW. I think they're way overrated in both motorsports potential and quality.

      I do, however, appreciate their subtle approach to product placement in this movie. I saw their website where they have the small video game and stunt stuff but I was happy to see they didn't wreck the movie by having nothing but their product in it.

      Transformers and Matrix reloaded, however, were nearly ruined for me for no other reason than GM's product placement. We all know Bumblebee was a bug, not a Camaro. While we're on the subject, can we please stop seeing the stupid Camaro already. From the Forza Motorsports Challenge (on Speed) to this and others, we've seen enough of the concept, just release the stupid thing already.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Product placement rules. I only hope TV programs, sports (if they can) and mini-series will take this approach. Less, or no commercials and we continue enjoying our programs... say... 24.

      But we would need at least 1 or 2 commercials during a sports event so we can do our "duty" and refill the coolers.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You obviously must be too young to remember all of the old Quinn Martin productions of the 1970s - FBI, CANNON, BARNABY JONES... EVERYONE drove a Ford product of some kind. Some of the SPELLING GOLDBERG productions like CHARLIE'S ANGELS and STARSKY & HUTCH had close to zero other brands displayed on screen.
      • 7 Years Ago
      VW's subtle product placement in this movie is just a reflection of their limited presence on US roads. Any more of them would have made the car scenes less credible.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I didn't even think the car chase scenes in the Bourne Ultimatum were that good. They were just one crash after another - I could do that. The Golf was not in a chase, the A6 didn't make it out of the parking lot shiny-side-up, and the last one was a mid-size FWD car chased briefly though Mahnattan traffic by an SUV. Where's the Mini darting around traffic? Heck, where's that RWD Lada taxi cab from the last movie? Where's my S8 with freakin' nitrous?! Not to mention the CIA's most wanted man walked into CIA headquarters unchallenged... they should really buy some curtains for those top-secret offices. Sigh. I wanted to like it, really, I did.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "The heavy-handedness of such product placement that GM seems to favor can instantly take a moviegoer out of the moment"
      It's called advertising, and contrary to popular belief, the "in your face" advertising gives better sales results.
      • 7 Years Ago
      GM's product placement in Transformers was minimal at best. The only vehicle to get any considerable screen time was Bumble Bee. The others were usually seen in robot form and were not easily identifiable. FoMoCo and Chrysler were well represented in the chase scenes.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Are you smoking crack? Seriously? Or are you just legally blind?
      • 7 Years Ago
      The worst implementation of an auto-product placement in a movie was Twister... basically, every vehicle in that movie was from Chrysler. And, the movie sucked.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have to agree VW are fantastic at product placement. They've managed to place the VW Touareg 2 in two spots on the front page of autoblog.

      Incredibly subtle.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually, I don't even have to have a good memory to realize this. The related headlines above have a link to an autoblog article of Ford partnering with a company for film product placement.

        In general though, it's a bit weird to see two articles on VW's product placement in the same movie almost back-to-back.

        Transformers is the exception to the rule, but then again, it's a movie about the vehicles itself. They are characters in the movie and have lines. The vehicles in these movies are just props. So doing stories on the cars in Transformers is akin to doing a story on Shia LaBeouf, while doing stories on the cars in Bourne Supremacy is like doing stories about stuntmen.

        You see stories about stuntmen, but you see a lot more stories about the stars of the show. Which is why seeing two back to back in one publication is a bit weird. I guess it wouldn't be so odd in a stuntmen-oriented publication though...
        • 7 Years Ago
        Pretty sure VW didn't buy John Neff and Dan Roth out. Call me crazy, but I doubt it.
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