Auto Manufacturers Marketing with Web Movies

Two online film companies inked deals with auto manufacturers, pointing to a rise in traditional advertisers’ looking for different ways to use the Web to market their vehicles.

In separate deals aimed at helping the automakers reach a young, film-savvy audience, AtomFilms teamed with the Ford Motor company, and Mitsubishi Motors inked a deal with IFILM.

Seattle-based AtomFilms, Ford Motor Company and ad agency J. Walter Thompson agreed to co-produce three short films, which debuted last week at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The three comedic shorts, Jason Reitman’s “gulp,” Anthony and Joe Russo’s “The Kiss,” and Morgan Lawley’s “Little Man on Campus,” each have a 2001 Ford Focus playing a supporting role. In Lawley’s work, for instance, the story’s hero wins a beautiful girlfriend, campus-wide popularity, and a new Ford Focus.

“This relationship demonstrates how AtomFilms can help traditional advertisers break through to consumers, while supporting independent filmmakers at the same time,” said AtomFilms’ vice president of sales, Seth Levenson. “These three filmmakers will receive tremendous exposure to the industry and consumers, which will help boost their career — thanks to their creative vision and the magnitude of this partnership.”

Ford will also help promote these shorts and respective trailers as a component of some of its Ford Focus promotional efforts.

“Ford and JWT are truly committed to the spirit of independent filmmaking,” said Ford’s public affairs manager Bill George. “From co-producing these three films to being a driving force in promoting the films online, Ford is dedicated to empowering emerging filmmakers to create quality short films.”

Friday, Mitsubishi Motors signed an agreement with IFILM, an online site for film fans, filmmakers and industry professionals. The two companies will produce a promotional campaign in which one filmmaker will receive a contract to film a touring band, in addition to a 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Sport and digital filmmaking equipment.

“Mitsubishi Motors vehicles have frequently been used by filmmakers as an indication of our brand’s attractiveness to consumers of all ages,” said Steve Gough, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America’s marketing director. “Participating in campaigns like these enhances our image and extends our brand to a cutting edge broadband audience.”

Through the deals, the auto manufacturers hope to reach a young, media-savvy crowd with “beyond the banner” online marketing techniques. George Penner, senior vice president and director at interactive agency iDeutsch, which created the IFILM-Mitsubishi promotion, said the effort allows companies to extend their brand personality in a format “stretching well beyond what is commonplace within the world of online marketing today.”

Also, since AtomFilms and IFILM cater to broadband users — a group of people likely to have more discretionary income than those who dial up, according to the firms — they say they’re reaching their target audiences.

“We are thrilled to be working with Mitsubishi on this pioneering broadband entertainment program that promises to reach the entire filmmaking community,” said IFILM’s Don Meek, who is senior vice president of sales for the site. “IFILM’s broadband platform is uniquely positioned to create and deliver these types of innovative programs.”

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