Dr. Strange totals a Lamborghini

Father of three and Automologist, MAC, delves into how driving a really expensive car can turn you into a "superhero". In the...

Father of three and Automologist, MAC, delves into how driving a really expensive car can turn you into a "superhero".

In the latest from the Marvel stable to be turned into a film, this time Dr. Strange, the main character, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is a well-to-do surgeon who tragically loses the use of his hands in a car accident and in his quest to regain the use of them, turns himself into a superhero. Thus, wrecking a car is central to the plot of the film and, in the warped world that marketing agencies inhabit, a prime product placement opportunity. But wrecking a Lambo?!

Just before they bent it
We are used to seeing some amazing automotive eye candy in films and to date, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D have had their Acura’s and Audi R8’s, but none has reached the exalted heights of a Lamborghini Huracan, the wedge-shaped V10 screaming demon from Italy, which costs a mere quarter of a million dollars. Until now, that is.

Of course the marketing guys will tell you how the car fits perfectly with the character in the film and reflects the values that Lamborghini aspire to, but it sounds to me like the film's production crew just wanted to blag six supercars to troll about in whilst filming.

So, is it good product placement to put Dr. Strange into a Huracan, especially if the key moment in the film for the car is when the good doctor turns it into scrap metal? The marketing boys would seem to think that it is. I am still in two minds about it though.

At the recent Paris Motor Show, the big boys at the high end of luxury all eschewed the opportunity to show off their latest offerings. Marques such as Aston Martin, Bugatti, Bentley, McLaren and of course Lamborghini were all conspicuous by their absence at a show that is seen as the kick-off to the global car convention circuit. However, all were present in a major way at the Pebble Beach junket, which is of course the premier gathering of the high net worth car consumer market.

This then begs the question: why would the raging bull from Italy that has a very limited marketing budget and an exceedingly small footprint (it only builds 3500 cars per year) choose to blow its budget with product placement in a film that has kids as its primary audience. According to Stefano Domenicali, Lambo’s CEO, the answer is simple - aspiration. You see, he believes that the youth of today are not so interested in buying cars yet the young are attracted to the Lamborghini range because their cars are different, viewing Lambo’s to be “super”, which they believe is a key differentiator in terms of being special. Yeah, sounds like we have a case of spin-doctor to me.

At this point it is probably good to remember that the otherwise boutique brand that is Lamborghini is in the throes of doubling its production from 3500 to 7000 vehicles per year, an increase that is about equivalent to the number of Mustangs that Ford sell every ten days or so in the US of A. So, increased brand awareness would be very desirable for them.

Apparently, there is sound logic behind the placement within this film. It seems that high net worth individuals watch films at a similar rate to those people of more limited means who end up driving Fords and Toyotas. More than that and at a subconscious level, when we escape into a good book or an entertaining film, we identify with versions of our ‘Ideal Self’, according to Alexander Edwards of Strategic Visions. Thus, whilst most of us know that we can never be a real superhero when we drive our Audi R10, we can be Tony Stark.

And so it turns out that product placement in a film can really work for an elite small production volume sportscar, which sort of brings me to the point of this story. I have three sons, all who think I am some sort of hero. Now, I wonder if I could persuade Lamborghini to loan me a Huracan for a week or five so that we could get them to aspire to future greatness and hence ownership...I promise I won’t bend it.

Watch Benedict bend the Lambo:


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