Like many brands, where car manufacturers once relied on lifelong customers, changing market factors (globalization as a whole, the Internet, etc.) has empowered buyers to venture beyond local car lots to find an automobile that truly speaks to their needs and desires. While Aston Martin's reputation for luxurious motoring may be enough, at nearly a century old, the manufacturer hopes to engage a new generation of drivers with its series of interactive films centered around their new Rapide. (See the full story on the four-door sports car on CH here.)
To check out how Aston Martin's Marketing Director Markus Kramer and his staff are creating something beyond a cliché TV commercial, I recently traveled on the brand's invitation to Lisbon where the team was busy shooting the trio of 90-second videos. The creative mind behind the project, James Temple of digital agency R/GA explained that the genesis of the project is "True Power Should Be Shared," with each film highlighting four people on a mission to deliver a time capsule from Lisbon to Zurich. Recognizing the limited amount of time the Aston Martin client has, the work aims to show how time is one of the most precious commodities today.
On set, there was some mystery as to how the narrative will develop, but I learned that the script is broken down into three separate stories which will launch in three segments beginning next month to make one complete short film come February 2011. To keep its audience fully engaged and interacting with the brand, Aston Martin placed clues throughout each film that can be cracked for a chance to win prizes associated with not only themselves, but the partner brands within the film.
The night shooting in central Lisbon covered a scene in which the four protagonists of the movie (all wearing Ozwald Boateng suits) are trapped in a small alley by two aggressive vehicles. Despite the cold and the rain, the atmosphere on the set was relaxed and the enthusiasm of the local and British crews (almost 60 people in total!) was high.
The second day brought us to Alges, where the scene featured a mysterious black helicopter performing impressive maneuvers under the vigilant eye of the "bomberos" (local firemen) and director Donnie Masters from Serious Pictures. After this we drove to the hills of Arrábida where the stunning ocean views and curvy streets promised intense performance from the Rapide.
From here I finally experienced the car first hand. In the back seat Steven Egan, General Manager Marketing Operations at Aston Martin, explained to me that what makes the car super special "is what it delivers to the driving performance, the feeling when you are one with the road—it's a driver's car." Egan also touched on the practicality of the four-seater, but saying the car is still very emotive. "In the heart it's still a sports car—everything is at your fingertips and you always feel in control of its power." From a passenger's point of view, it's clear how the cocoon-like seats are designed to keep you feeling safe and molded to you, "like a hand that fits into the glove," Steven states.
I also had the chance to take part into a small portion of the filming, with an experienced driver taking the Rapide to the limits in the small street of Arrábida, closed to the traffic. The roar of the engine, the quick accelerations and the sudden braking made me feel the true power and the possibilities of the car.
After this breathtakingly unique event, I got back to the base camp and spent some time with Donnie Masters. The director told me how happy he was with the process, revealing more details about the story. A meeting in a restaurant, a mission, a tunnel, martial arts, flashbacks and more set the tone. "It's not going to be a dark film, but it will carry a tone of excitement, a dense atmosphere. The movie will find its natural length in less than 10 minutes. I want it to be long enough to enjoy, but not indulgent."
Donnie has worked for years directing commercials for the automotive industry, but this time is a totally new and different approach. "Aston Martin should be making films like this" he says. "Because now they know they can do something more than classic car commercials. Here the car is the hero, but in a very humble way—we've got characters, story, wonderful dialogue by Sean Doyle—but still the car is the thread all the way through the film, in the same way it does with James Bond."