Major brands get behind ‘Bourne’

Universal lands big promo partners for spy film

The Jason Bourne franchise is going the route of James Bond.

Volkswagen, MasterCard and Symantec are expected to pony up more than $40 million to promote Universal Pictures’ “The Bourne Ultimatum,” which bows Aug. 3.

The moves give the third installment of U’s spy franchise that stars Matt Damon the kind of marketing muscle that MGM’s 007 franchise has long enjoyed, with a slew of brands eager to tie-in with a popular character and property.

Previous two outings, “The Bourne Identity” and “The Bourne Supremacy,” did not have promotional partners.

For the campaigns that launch worldwide on July 15, VW alone will spend around $25 million, marking the first time the company has spent significant ad dollars around a U release since “King Kong” in 2005.

The German automaker’s redesigned Touareg 2 is prominently featured in a major action sequence in “Ultimatum,” and the planned tie-in with the pic comes just as the SUV is rolling into dealerships in the U.S.

VW’s 30-second TV spots will work “Bourne” into its ongoing “Safe Happens” campaign, which show drivers surviving a brutal car crash. Ads will include clips from the movie’s main car chase, plus a scene in which one of the pic’s characters climbs out of a destroyed Touareg.

Overseas, VW will use the pic to hype its Golf, which is currently bowing in Europe.

Overall, VW effort involves TV, print and radio, as well as Webisodes on that showcase the Touareg’s chase scene, and Golf’s integration, ads at 600 dealerships Stateside and 2,000 overseas and participation online in “The Ultimate Search for Bourne” game on Google.

Pact is part of a $200 million promotional partnership VW forged with NBC Universal in 2005.

Meanwhile, MasterCard, one of U’s longtime corporate partners, will leverage its vast network of banks and merchants to reach millions of cardholders.

Financial institutions ABN-AMRO, Barclay, HSBC, HBOS and EON Bank are among those that will promote the pic in its branches and via direct mail, statements and inserts.

American Airlines will sponsor a sweepstakes, screen the previous two “Bourne” films on its flights, run the new pic’s trailer and include related ads in its in-flight magazine.

Regal Cinema will push the pic in theaters, while Best Buy and Universal Studios Hollywood will offer up perks to MasterCard users.

MasterCard’s own online ads will send consumers to It’s also participating in the Google game.

As for Symantec, company will promote its Norton identity theft products, which tie in well with the pic’s plot, in which Bourne figures out who he really is. “Protect Your Identity With Norton” effort will include stickers on packaging, circular ads and online campaign.

Company’s Norton Internet Security software will eventually be bundled with the DVD box sets for all three “Bourne” pics. 

All partners will also promote the “Ultimatum” DVD release.

Deals were brokered by Universal Studios Partnerships, and the foreign emphasis on many of the promo efforts comes as marketing costs are escalating to the point where studios are increasingly turning to consumer brands for additional marketing muscle in the U.S. and, especially, abroad.

For example, VW and MasterCard will spend 70% of their marketing dollars around “Bourne” in foreign territories. Both will launch campaigns in about 25 foreign territories each.

“The Bourne Ultimatum” lends itself well to a worldwide campaign as the new pic takes place in Moscow, Paris, Madrid, London, Tangier and New York City.

“Bourne just translates everywhere in the world, and the brands got very excited about that,” said Stephanie Sperber, exec VP, Universal Studios Partnerships.

So did Universal.

“It’s critical to have partnerships,” Sperber said. “It’s getting us the out-of-aisle placement in media where we don’t typically go. It’s media we just couldn’t buy. It’s getting our content in front of eyeballs. That is critical to us.”

Partner promos are staggered, with VW’s running through Aug. 3, while MasterCard’s runs through Aug. 15 and Symantec’s through Aug. 31.

While VW has a strong presence in the pic, and MasterCard appears via signage, the “Bourne” films have never been filled with blatant product placements. “Ultimatum” doesn’t change that, studio execs stress.

“There was a strong strategic decision not to take it to the level of a Bond movie and make the placements very obvious or gimmicky,” Sperber said. “That’s not what ‘Bourne’ is.”

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