Transformers: Dark of the Moon was the big movie of 2011, bringing to the conclusion a trilogy that began with 2007’s Transformers by director Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures.
While Dark of the Moon was notable for the surprise comedic performances put in by actors John Malkovich and Ken Jeong, the film also featured prominent product placement from PC vendor, Lenovo.
In particular, the character Brains in the film turns into a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge notebook.
Lenovo Asia-Pacific and Latin America marketing and communications vice-president, Howie Lau, said the Transformers: Dark of the Moon placement was a result of the vendor wanting to explore “different and exciting ways” to introduce its new ThinkPad Edge line.
“The unconventional, and often surprising, use of advanced technology has always been a cornerstone of the Transformers storyline,” he said.
“This made it a perfect match for Lenovo’s [For those who] Do Machines.”
Lenovo has Brains
Over 400 Lenovo products were featured during the 154 minute running time of the film, and Lenovo worked hard with Paramount to have the ThinkPad Edge 13" laptop integrated into the storyline and transform into the Brains Autobot character.
Lau says that the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge notebook was chosen for the character due to the launch of the vendor’s then newly introduced ThinkPad Edge line.
“Since the ThinkPad Edge was released a few months prior to the film's release, it became our primary focus and we decided to bring the notebooks into the mainstream consciousness,” he said.
“That’s why we worked with Michael Bay and his production team to find a way for the ThinkPad Edge to fit organically into the film.”
Lau says that the inclusion of the Brains character not only gave Lenovo “significant exposure” in the film, but also provided the vendor with useful assets to leverage in video, print, digital, and point-of-sale.
“In turn, we carried out promotional marketing activities related to Transformers: Dark of the Moon in select markets around the world.”
However, despite the prominent display of Lenovo’s ThinkPad Edge in Dark of the Moon, no tie-in product eventuated in the months leading up to and following the premiere of the film.
While Lau admits that Lenovo did evaluate many promotional options, including a Transformers edition ThinkPad Edge and a transformable ThinkPad Edge Brains action figure by Hasbro, the vendor ultimately decided to focus its efforts in “different areas.”
“In addition to securing organic placement in the film, we focused on leveraging the Transformers brand with co-promotional marketing tactics to build awareness around Lenovo products,” he said.
“This included following-up with additional in-store point-of-sale materials leveraging the partnership.”
As for the reason why Lenovo decided to be featured in Dark of the Moon and not the earlier two Transformer films, Lau says that the vendor was not yet leveraging entertainment marketing as a marketing tactic.
Eighteen months following the premiere of the film, Lau says that Lenovo’s tie-in with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, together with its global "For Those Who Do" advertising campaign, resulted in a “huge jump” in brand awareness among consumers.
“Our involvement in the film certainly was a hot topic, and it continues to be a conversation piece over a year after the theater debut of Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” he said.
“In countries that executed full marketing campaigns around the film, we also saw significant increases in sales.”