NEED FOR SPEED has been described as a video game spin-off, a FAST & FURIOUS rip-off or Aaron Paul’s breakthrough into film, but the one thing it is without a doubt, is a full-fledged exhibition of elite car Brands as well as the Ford Mustang. This article will analyse which Brands are put forward in this new high performance car racing movie, how they are portrayed and how NEED FOR SPEED’s Brand integration compares to FAST & FURIOUS 6’s (2013). We will also have a look at non-car Brands that appear in the movie.
- Ford Mustang & Koenigsegg
The essence of FAST & FURIOUS has always been the old vs new or american muscle cars vs imported cars dillema. This was embodied by Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker and their respective love and devotion to the Dodge Charger and the Nissan Skyline. Neither of these Brands make a noticeable appearance in NEED FOR SPEED as the main two Brands that are overwhelmingly shown on screen – and around which the story centers – are the Ford Mustang and the Koenigsegg Agera. Whilst the FAST & FURIOUS series focused on car speed, their construction, street racing and NOS use, the NEED FOR SPEED movie focuses more on the monetary value of the cars and their Brand names.
Whilst it is mentioned and shown that the Shelby modified Ford Mustang driven by Aaron Paul throughout most of the movie, can reach a top speed of 234 MPH and when introducing the Koenigsegg Agera car it is mentioned that it can reach 280 MPH, most of film’s dialogue in regards to cars relates to how much they are worth. Furthermore, through frequent name-dropping, it is ensured that any viewer of this movie will remember such Brand names Ford Mustang, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini or McLaren. The focus on luxury high performance sports cars and the inclusion of the Ford Mustang in this category is ultimately the most interesting Branding twist of this movie. Having watched NEED FOR SPEED, a viewer who does not know much about cars will correctly think of Koenigsegg and Lamborghini as similar types or cars worth millions, but will also consider the Ford Mustang on par with these. For the record, the most you could pay for a brand new regular Ford Mustang 2014 is well below $100,000. This is an interesting Branding exercise, and whilst it is not clear how much influence Ford had in the development of this film they are a key player in its promotion.
So despite both FAST & FURIOUS and NEED FOR SPEED being car-focused movies, the range of Brands they display and how these are portrayed differs vastly.
- Other elite performance cars
Whilst the Mustang and Koenigsegg are central to the plot, many other Brands are seen throughout the various races and car sequences. The main race of the movie comes at the end and is built up throughout the film as the crown jewel of illegal racing for expensive cars. It features – as well as the aforementioned Koenigsegg Agera R driven by Aaron Paul – a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento (2010) driven by Dominic Cooper, a McLaren P1 (2013), a GTA Spano, a Bugatti Veyron SS (2010) and a Saleen S7. Thanks to Michael Keaton‘s ever-present voice-over as the radio commentator all these Brands get their names mentioned. However, they all end up crashing except from the Koenigsegg.
We have seen that the Brands of cars differ widely between FAST & FURIOUS and NEED FOR SPEED but another different element is the demographics of the car-related cast. The average age of the main drivers in FAST & FURIOUS 6 cast was 36 whilst the (much fewer) visible drivers in NEED FOR SPEED have an average age of 28. These averages are based on the actor/actresses’ ages at the time of release of either movie.
This is important as the the age, gender and ethnicity of actors impacts how viewers relate to and perceive the Brands on display.
As a transition away from cars, an anecdotal observation is that Aaron Paul’s character continuously wears Nike shoes throughout in the film. Whilst this may remind us that Paul Walker always wore Vans, Nike does not benefit from the iconic Vans gas pedal shots found in the FAST FURIOUS series.
Other than car Brands, the other omnipresent Brand was Apple. Almost every character was seen at one point using an iPhone, sometimes for traditional phone calls and once for a FaceTime video call. An Apple Macbook laptop is discreetly seen being used by Michael Keaton’s character and iPads are also used. Whilst no Apple logo is seen in the movie, there is a clear mention of the Apple tablet by name, when Scott Mescudi’s character is locked up in military prison and pleads “Do you have an iPad?” Surprisingly, his stern guard accommodates his request and the iPad gets a a dozen seconds of screen time as the locked up protagonist watches the final race unfold on the tablet. All these sightings of Apple products generally associate the Brand with technology, entertainment, portability, the military but also depicts iPhone as the mobile phone used by everyone. However, the most interesting Apple product in NEED FOR SPEED is not a device but rather the CarPlay operating system (previously called “iOS in the Car”) used throughout a large part of the movie in the Ford Mustang.
The very recently released in-car operating system by Apple is used throughout the movie to make hands-free phone calls, browse the internet and for GPS navigation. Interestingly though, Ford has been associated with both Microsoft and Blackberry in regards to developing their operating system, so it seems somewhat surprising that Apple’s CarPlay is so strongly associated to Ford in what will arguably be one of the car manufacturers’ strongest marketing operations of the year.
- Other Brands
– Whilst Apple is the main electronics Brand in the movie, Imogen Poots’ character watches the final race on a Toshiba laptop.
– The meetup/brief before the prestigious car race takes place at the Mark Hopkins InternContinental hotel in San Francisco.
– A barrel of Royal Purple oil can be seen in Aaron Paul’s garage in the beginning of the movie.
– Scott Mescudi‘s character wears a MLB/Detroit Tigers cap in multiple scenes.
– Imogen Poots‘ character mentions that she knows about car despite driving a Maserati, and later mentions owning Gucci boots.