The Brands Helping Hype Hollywood’s Blockbuster Movies


Rocket Mortgage and Avengers: Infinity War TV commercial - April 2018

As Hollywood tries to regain its box office mojo (beyond Black Panther) in time for the crucial summer season, brands continue to step forward to partner with the spring’s most important new film releases. Less about product placement, it’s all about the digital, TV and social buzz created when brands align with movie franchises.

Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage brand continued to up its game to match its new status as America’s largest home loan provider with an ad tied to the debut of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War on April 27 as part of a larger, fully integrated digital campaign.

In a commercial inspired by the opening battle scenes of the film, a young African-American woman walks down the street filling out a mortgage application using the Rocket mobile app on her phone, listening to music and oblivious to the chaos around her.

Meanwhile, members of the Avengers are using their super powers to keep her from harm—underlining the “superhero level of confidence” she feels about using Rocket. The happy ending—the woman with her partner and son on the doorstep of their new home, thanks to Rocket Mortgage. (African-American movie attendance in the U.S. has been increasing, as the MPAA notes.)

Rocket Mortgage® and Avengers: Infinity War - Benedict Cumberbatch

The call to action: “Super Heroes are already confident. Now, it’s your turn. See how Rocket Mortgage makes the complex simple at, and catch your favorite confident heroes like Doctor Strange and Iron Man, in Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War — in theaters April 27.”

Rocket Mortgage and Avengers: Infinity War TV ad

Additional content will include digital videos, online ads, social media and a superhero-themed Snapchat game. “We are not only able to produce fun, energetic and creative content” through the partnership, stated Casey Hurbis, CMO for Quicken, “but the campaign also provides Rocket Mortgage a strong opportunity to connect with current and future homebuyers.”

Lexus Takes a Ride With Black Panther

Lexus Black Panther movie tie-in

Black Panther, of course, had its own movie tie-in with Lexus. While Disney’s Marvel Studios cheered the film’s massive global success, so too did the automaker as moviegoers got a look at Lexus’ new luxury LC coupe, featured prominently in a major chase scene through the streets of Seoul. The scene marked two years of collaboration between Lexus and Marvel Studios that included promotions at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con promotion and the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

As noted, Lexus’s multicultural marketing agency, Walton Isaacson, acknowledges that the collaboration and product placement in Black Panther represented an opportunity to link the brand with a cultural watershed event along with the momentum and impact of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Lexus Black Panther comic book

In addition to the product placement in film, Lexus leading up to the Black Panther release commissioned an original graphic novel, Black Panther: Soul of a Machine, featuring the LC 500 and a Lexus takumimaster craftsman. And, of course, there was the Black Panther-themed Super Bowl ad for Lexus.

It was a savvy tie-in for Lexus. notes the “explosion” of ad impressions (across TV, social media and in theater) due to the film and the product tie-in. In the week following Black Panther’s U.S. premiere on February 16, online searches for Lexus at shopping site Autotrader were up 15% from the previous week while online traffic for the LC 500 rose 10%.

Carl’s Jr. and Ready Player One

Spielburgers logo - Carl's Jr. - Steven Spielberg

Meanwhile, another Hollywood brand integration isn’t quite so out in the open or superhero-centric, but may be just as strong for associating with a Hollywood legend. Carl’s Jr. sparked a social media meme by “renaming” its burgers “Spielburgers” in honor of the theatrical release on March 29 Ready Player One, which was directed for Warner Bros. by the legendary Steven Spielberg.

Warner and CKE Restaurants, owner of the Carl’s brand, appeared to spar over an apparently unauthorized commercial use of Spielberg’s brand equity and that of the movie.

But a few fans, suspicious of the meme, dug up an early promotion for Ready Player One that shows a Carl’s Jr. wrapper lying on the floor—a sly giveaway that the two companies’ back-and-forth was a planned tempest in a teacup … or, in this case, a burger wrapper.

Denny’s: A Star Wars Story

Denny's and Solo: A Star Wars Story cross-promotion

Another new campaign this week is highlighting one of the biggest movie franchises of all time—Star Wars—with Denny’s promoting its marketing tie-in for Solo: A Star Wars Story (arriving in theaters on May 25) with a new menu, collectors’ items, charitable tie-in (with No Kid Hungry) and ad campaign. Denny’s is one of only six brand partners for the movie, along with Esurance, General Mills, Nissan, Symantec and (of course) SOLO Cup.