Concave Brand Tracking travelled to France to catch a pre-screening of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) and recorded all the Brands that featured in the movie. This article looks at how much Brand exposure the movie offered as a whole and how this compared to other Marvel movies, as well as which Brands got the most exposure and how they did so.
This article contains moderate spoilers about sequences that occur, but not about the actual story.
All screenshots from AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) come from trailers of other promotional materials and are the property of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Concave Brand Tracking’s exposure calculations take into account Brand screen time, discernibility and logo/name visibility. We usually include ticket sales as well, but this variable has been omitted due to AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) only just being released.
total Brand exposure
If we add up the collective exposure received by all Brands that appear, we find that AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) is, in fact, light on Brands relatively to other recent Marvel movies.
While AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) did give Brands slightly more exposure than IRON MAN 3 (2013), more than THOR (2011) and far more than GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014), it had less than half as much as IRON MAN 2 (2010).
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014) had 43% more Brand exposure than AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015), while the 1st AVENGERS and IRON MAN movies each had around 20% more.
If we look beyond Marvel movies, we find that AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) had 2% more Brand exposure than 2012’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and 2% less than 2015’s FIFTY SHADES OF GREY.
The top 5 Brands in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) are Samsung, Audi, Under Armour, Harley Davidson and Hummel.
These Brands vary from being complete Marvel newcomers, to long time partners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While a Samsung TV appeared briefly in THOR (2011) and a camcorder in IRON MAN 3 (2013), the Brand has taken a front seat in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) as the exclusive IT Brand. Apple products, which had featured prominently in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014) were nowhere to be found in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015). Dell had a very discreet appearance despite having been the most visible Brand in IRON MAN (2008) and in the top 5 Brands in THOR (2011) and MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS (2012).
Audi is the 2nd most visible Brand in AGE OF ULTRON (2015), following Acura’s stint in MARVEL’S THE AVENGER’S (2012) and THOR (2011). This builds on Audi’s strong visibility in all 3 IRON MAN movies.
Under Armour follows up its Marvel debut in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014) as the 3rd most visible Brand in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015).
Harley-Davidson is the 4th most visible Brand in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015). The motorcycle Brand has appeared in previous Marvel movies including both CAPTAIN AMERICA movies, briefly in MARVEL’S THE AVENGER’S (2012) and IRON MAN 3 (2013). However, this will be its first appearance as one of the top 5 Brands in a Marvel movie that will most likely make the yearly top 10 list at the US box office.
Finally, the Danish sportswear company, Hummel, comes in as the 5th most visible Brand in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015). Not only has Hummel never before appeared in a Marvel movie, but Concave Brand Tracking has no record of it ever appearing in a single top 10 US box office movie since 2003.
Now, let’s take a closer look at these 5 Brands and see how they achieved their significant exposure, as well as how they were portrayed. We will also look at how both these elements compare to the Brands’ appearances in other movies.
Along with Audi, Samsung has been one of the most visibly associated Brands with AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) since before its release. As a close partner with the movie, Samsung has had promotional tie-in events at CES and Comic Con as well as its own exclusive extended trailer. Hence, it should come as no surprise that we find the South Korean electronics company as the most visible Brand in the actual movie.
As mentioned above, Samsung edged replaced previous Marvel collaborators, Dell and Apple, to become the almost exclusive IT Brand in the whole movie. As such, it receives 3 minutes of screen time. Its presence is achieved through monitors (66% of screen time), tablets (6%), earpieces (6%), mobile phones (4%), earpieces and even a store (2%).
While Samsung’s screen time is substantial, it must be noted that for 63% of its screen time, its products were only seen in the background or discreetly, and that their logo was only visible in 15% of their total screen time. On the other hand, 14% of their screen time was in the form of close-ups, one of which even appeared in the movie’s trailer.
Samsung products are mainly used in The Avengers’ headquarters, a Korean lab and on board the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. As a result, Samsung is largely portrayed as a high-tech and professional Brand. It is used by many different actors, including Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson. This line-up provides Samsung with a diverse demographics association. It includes both genders, black and white ethnicities and ages ranging from 30 (Scarlett Johansson) to 66 (Samuel L. Jackson).
Looking at other recent movies Samsung has heavily featured in, we find that its presence in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) is very close to that in NON-STOP (2014). GONE GIRL (2014), on the other hand, provided Samsung with 2.5 times more exposure than AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015). However, it will most likely make up for this with an exceptional box office performances and hence a wider audience.
Following its appearances in all 3 IRON MAN movies and despite being left out of the 1st AVENGERS movie, Audi is the 2nd most visible Brand in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015).
Audi only receives just over minute of screen time, but had its logo visible in 92% of it. Furthermore, it appeared subtly for 90% of its screen time, only appearing in the background for 10%.
In AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) Audi vehicles are used by Stellan Skarsgård, Jeremy Renner and eventually by Robert Downey Jr. in the final scene. Their vehicles also appear numerous times during the South African action sequence, alongside vehicles from Volkswagen, their parent company. Overall, Audi get to showcase their 2010 and 2014 A3s, their 2005 A4 B7 and their 2015 TTS.
In terms of portrayal, the Audi vehicles driven by Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr. are shown driven across a wrecked city and dirt road, respectively. As such, the Brand is associated with cross country driving. Jeremy Renner’s Audi stint also implies speed and agility.
These associations with the Audi Brand differ from those in the IRON MAN movies as it was shown as luxurious when driven to/from Tony Stark’s mansion and professional when driven by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Audi’s latest association with speed is reminiscent of a younger Robert Downey Jr. bolting across highways or airfields in their vehicles in the IRON MAN movies.
Within Marvel movies, Audi’s appearance in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) is more visible than in the 2nd and 3rd IRON MAN movies, but less visible than in the 1st.
Outside of Marvel, Audi recently appeared in FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (2015) and FURIOUS 7 (2015). The appearance in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) was more visible than both of these. It was, however, less visible than Audi’s appearances in THE WOLVERINE (2013) or I, ROBOT (2004).
Audi’s 2004 appearance in I, ROBOT remains one of the Brands most visible appearances of all time, with almost 2 minutes of screen time and 100% logo/name visibility.
This will not be the last we see of Audi in major movies this year. It will star in the upcoming TRANSPORTER prequel TRANSPORTER: REFUELED (2015), due out in September 2015. While Jason Statham drove a BMW in the original THE TRANSPORTER (2002) he transitioned to Audi vehicles in the 2005 and 2008 sequels.
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#3 Under Armour
After entering the Marvel universe in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014) Under Armour gets close to 1 ½ minutes of screen time in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015). Despite having more screen time than Audi, it does not rank higher due to only having its logo seen in 21% of this screen time. Indeed, while Robert Downey Jr. wears an Under Armour t-shirt for a lot of the movie, it does not feature a logo on the front, but only on the back.
Other characters do wear compression t-shirts, which are Under Armour’s signature product, but none other than Robert Downey Jr.’s are clearly Under Armour products.
Under Armour got 7% more visibility in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014) than in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015). Recently released FURIOUS 7 (2015) provided Under Armour with almost 2.25 times more visibility. Movies with extensive American football sequences such as 22 JUMP STREET (2014) and THE BLIND SIDE (2009) had over 10 and 15 times more Under Armour exposure than AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015), respectively. So, while the latest Marvel movie provided the Brand with more exposure than THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012) or TWILIGHT (2008), it does not rank as one of its most visible appearances.
In terms of portrayal, Under Armour is in no way associated with sports in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015), but rather with action and technology. Indeed, Robert Downey Jr. wears one of their t-shirts under his Iron Man suit. This follows non-sports associations that we find in the FAST & FURIOUS movies and actually quite resembles the portrayal of Under Armour in TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2014) worn by William Fichtner. This parallel is further reinforced by the demographical resemblances between Downey Jr. and Fichtner, both white males in their 50s.
#4 Harley Davidson
As in all movies that have featured Captain America over the past few years, the motorcycle Brand of choice in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) is Harley-Davidson. With over ¾ of a minute of screen time across 2 action sequences, it is the 4th most visible Brand in the movie.
Captain American drives a Street series bike in the opening action scene. As this takes place in snowy forest the Brand is associated with cross country driving as well as action, jumps and stunts. The Brand’s logo is also seen in this sighting.
Later on, Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire prototype is driven through the streets of Seoul, not by Chris Evans as Captain America, but by Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. In this action-packed chase sequence, the Harley-Davidson vehicle is shown as extremely fast and agile. This portrayal is similar to what we found in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014). In this second appearance, the Harley-Davidson logo is only seen in a very brief close-up.
The fact that Scarlett Johansson is the biker in this appearance is interesting as Harley-Davidson is a Brand historically more associated with men. It was the Brand of choice for characters played by Sung Kang in FAST & FURIOUS 6 (2013), Shia Labeouf in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), and James Marsden in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (2006).
On the other hand, female actresses have been known to ride Ducati and Aprilia motorcycles. Ducati bikes were driven by Carrie-Ann Moss in THE MATRIX RELOADED (2003) and Gal Gadot in both FAST & FURIOUS 6 (2013) and FAST FIVE (2009). Megan Fox drove an Aprilia bike in TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009).
Harley-Davidson’s presence in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) is more visible than in the last CAPTAIN AMERICA or the 1st AVENGERS movie as well as an array of other movie sightings. However, the appearance that was still more than twice as visible was in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).
AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) introduces us to 2 new major characters: Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch. While the latter is not associated with a single Brand throughout the movie, this is far from true for Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
While he eventually choses Adidas shoes to complete his super-hero uniform, for the first few scenes in which he appears, Taylor-Johnson wears Vans shoes and a Hummel jacket.
Vans is a well-known shoe Brand worn in by Paul Walker in the last 3 FAST & FURIOUS movies and Adam Sevani in STEP UP: ALL IN (2014), in by Grant Austin in the TV show THE FLASH and by Red Foo in his music video LET’S GET RIDICULOUS (2013). Hummel, on the other hand, is pretty much a newcomer in American entertainment. It is a Danish sportswear company which manufacturers products for sports such as soccer, futsal, rugby volleyball and handball. The company sponsors professional and national teams for various sports in the Middle East, Asia but mostly Europe, and specifically in Eastern Europe.
The Hummel jacket worn by Aaron Taylor-Johnson receives about a minute of screen time and has its logo briefly seen in one of the opening scenes. Despite the Brand’s athletic heritage, it is in no way associated with sports. Rather, it is worn casually and associated with action.
The answer to why this Brand was chosen to feature in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) can be found in an interview with the costume design in a behind-the-scenes video from Under Armour. Speaking about Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen’s characters she explained:
“We needed to start them off in Eastern Europe, and we needed to believe that they were orphan children living there, and gradually move them toward their superhero look”
– Alexandra Byrne, Costume Designer for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)
So the reason for an obscure European sports Brand being found in one of the biggest blockbuster of the year seems to simply be a matter of authenticity. This is in contrast with the top 4 Brands in the movie whose appearances are clearly the result of one form or another of product placement.
– A pair of Beats by Dre wireless headphones makes a visible appearance early on in the movie. Mark Ruffalo wears them on board The Avengers’ jet. This is the 2nd product placement in a major box office movie by the newly acquired Apple subsidiarity, following the appearance of their Pill speaker in TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (2014).
– As mentioned above, Adidas shoes are worn by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the final action sequence and introduced with a close-up in which its logo is clearly seen. This follows him wearing Vans earlier in the movie. Both Brands get associated with speed due to the nature of Taylor-Johnson’s character’s power.
– Royal Purple, which regularly makes brief appearances in movies, TV series and music videos, appears in the form of a billboard in the background of the Seoul chase scene.
– Korean Air advertisements can be seen continuously in the background of fight scene on board a train in the Seoul action sequence.
– A tractor that Robert Downey Jr. is asked to fix has its John Deere logo clearly visible.
– Robert Downey Jr. wears a DJ Bruce Lee t-shirt for close to a minute in one scene. This brings to mind his wearing of a Black Sabbath t-shirt in MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS (2012). Black Sabbath turned out to be the most visible Brand in that movie.
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