Audi has guest starred in multiple movies, becoming car of choice for billionaire playboy Robb Stark in the "Iron Man" franchise and helping Will Smith battle artificial intelligence in the year 2035 in "I, Robot."
On May 19, Audi will share the big screen with Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup and Danny McBride, but none of these actors will be behind the wheel. Instead, the German automaker has built an unmanned moon rover that will make its debut in "Alien: Covenant."
Dubbed the "Lunar Quattro," the vehicle resembles an Audi in that it bears the four-circle logo, is powered by Audi’s Quattro technology and has four wheels. But the similarities to a consumer car stop there. The moon rover best resembles a modernized version of Wall-E, the character from the Disney/Pixar film of the same name.
But the vehicle is more than just a Hollywood prop. Designed in partnership with the German engineering firm Part-Time Scientists, Audi plans to take the Lunar Quattro beyond the silver screen. Equipped with a solar panel, four 360-degree rotating cameras and 3D-printed metal components, the rover is designed to take an actual trip to the moon.
In 2018, a Spaceflight Inc. rocket will deliver two Audi Quattros to the moon, said Kenneth Bracht, Audi America’s director of brand marketing, in an email. When asked why a car company was setting its sights beyond Earth, Bracht repeatedly cited "innovation."
"Our hope is our technologies will help lend insight to an unexplored area to help scientists, other companies and people get a better understanding of this unfamiliar territory—to eventually lead to further scientific advances," he said. "It’s in the Audi DNA to be innovative."
The "Alien: Covenant" product placement "provided the perfect backdrop to showcase what the brand is doing to further innovation in science and space," said Bracht. Although he wouldn’t reveal how much Audi spent on the partnership with 20th Century Fox, the film promoting the rover’s integration in the latest "Alien" film, created and produced by California-based agency 3AM, has already garnered nearly 2 million views on YouTube.
Audi isn’t the only brand to recently announce its ambitions of space travel. Last month, Yum Brands’ Kentucky Fried Chicken released an ad in which its latest Colonel Sanders, Rob Lowe, said that the restaurant’s new Zinger chicken sandwich would journey to the moon. KFC US president and chief concept officer Kevin Hochman said in a release that KFC’s intentions were real, but the brand has yet to reveal an actual plan. "I have no idea how we'll launch a chicken sandwich into space, but the marketing team thinks they can do it," he said.
In addition to the movie, Audi is marketing its Lunar Quattro rover via social media with online video.