Need proof that the Fast and Furious franchise has become a Star Wars-like marketing force? The upcoming 2017 film—The Fate of the Furious, hitting theaters on April 14—boasts two different tiers of official brand partner.
There are brand partners specific to this film such as Castrol. And then there are partners of the overall franchise, including Mattel, Jada Toys and mall retailer Buckle. One brand in particular—FCA’s Dodge—is particularly noteworthy, which comes as no surprise as the franchise’s official auto partner.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since The Fast and the Furious exploded onto American culture. On the eve of its eighth film, the franchise is a bona fide global hit. Its last film made nearly $400 million in China alone, more than three times what Star Wars: The Force Awakens made in the nation.
In a day-and-date release, Fast 8 will open simultaneously in China and the U.S. It’s also become a global marketing machine, claiming whole portions of toy aisles at Target and other retailers and elevating its brand partners—and none as much as Dodge, which has a big car to promote in the 2018 Demon.
No brand comes close to how America’s muscle car-maker has wrapped itself in the F&F franchise. As we’ve explored before, the films have had a major lift on sales of Dodge’s rebooted Charger model.
While stars have come and gone in the series, various Charger models have been stars of the the films. The new movie is no different, introducing a “Dom Toretto’s Dodge Ice Charger.” The Charger is as much a character in the Fast and Furious movies as the Walther PPK handgun is to the James Bond series.
Despite Dodge’s long relationship with the franchise, the automaker didn’t officially embrace the movies until 2011 with Fast Five. But since then, Dodge has enmeshed itself in the Fast & Furious ecosystem to a level that probably no automaker has ever had in a movie franchise. So yes, there will be Dodge Chargers and Challengers galore in the new movie.
As Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands—Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT—for FCA North America, told us in 2015, “Since Fast Five, Dodge has engaged in full 360-degree partnerships to promote the Fast and Furious franchise movies, including product placement, co-branded television spots, digital and social media campaigns.”
“Fast Dodge cars, adrenaline-filled action and family have fueled the Fast & Furious franchise from the beginning,” Kuniskis stated about The Fate of the Furious.
“For more than 15 years, the Fast & Furious series has showcased some of the world’s most iconic and significant performance vehicles, and The Fate of the Furious will continue this tradition.”
“The Fast & Furious franchise provides a natural extension for showcasing Dodge’s most powerful performance vehicles to movie and car enthusiasts everywhere,” said Olivier Francois, Chief Marketing Officer, FCA-Global. “The best co-branded promotional spots are those in which the world of the Fast & Furious films and our world merge perfectly to create a unique piece of creative that resonates and connects with The Fate of the Furious and Dodge fans alike.”
“The world of Fast & Furious is inextricably linked to our partners at Dodge,” added David O’Connor, EVP of Global Franchise Management and Brand Strategy, Universal Pictures. “Time and again, they have proven their commitment to ensuring that the cars are just as beloved characters as the family members who form the heart of the series.”
To get a feel for just how much a “full 360-degree” integration and commitment this is, take a trip to Dodge.com. The Dodge brand’s flagship website makes no mention of the film and yet everything about it is designed to communicate the films’ look and feel.
Images throughout give a feel for the movie: street racing, American muscle cars on parade, a black SUV parked outside what looks a lot like a prison. (The Fate of the Furious includes a major prison escape scene.) Even the homepage section to find a dealer suggests the movie with a silhouetted bald gent (below) you might mistake for franchise star Vin “Dom Toretto” Diesel.
Taking advantage of all the buzz and traffic to its site and social channels, Dodge has a big premiere of its own: under the banner of If You Know, You Know, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon will be revealed on April 11th at a press event at the New York International Auto Show and live-streamed to the world.
A new teaser video for the drag racing-inspired muscle car shows it accelerating hard down a drag strip before a time slip is printed out.
— Dodge (@Dodge) April 7, 2017
In short, Dodge’s online and digital presence has basically been made interchangeable with The Fate of the Furious without ever once mentioning it. Now that’s integration—integration so comprehensive that you don’t know if it’s the brand integrated into the film or the film into the brand. More than product placement, the love affair between Dodge and Fast and the Furious is a rare synergy that elevates both brands—and their fans.
Update: Here’s the big Dodge Demon reveal. Enjoy: