Audi Designs First Virtual Concept car for “Spies in Disguise”

  • Audi RSQ e-tron to appear as a four-wheeled protagonist in the Blue Sky Studios production “Spies in Disguise”
  • Entirely virtual sports car with electric drive and fully autonomous driving mode
  • Product placement as an essential element of Audi’s brand strategy

The animated spy comedy adventure “Spies in Disguise” is hitting the big screen just in time for Christmas, and Audi is in on the act. The movie features another superstar alongside super spy Lance Sterling (voiced by Will Smith): the Audi RSQ e-tron, the first concept car from the Four Rings to be created exclusively for an animated film. The model was designed in close cooperation with Blue Sky Studios and boasts a holographic speedometer, an electric drive, a fully automated driving mode and visionary design language. The highlight of this unusual product placement: Contrary to tradition, Audi is not using the movie to advertise the launch of the model; instead, the sporty two-seater serves as a demonstration of how intelligent and sustainable premium mobility could look in the future.

It is an absolute premiere: For the first time, the Four Rings have developed and designed a virtual vehicle for an animated film. The starting point for this unique project was examining the script for brand integration potential. “A super-agent story in which innovation and technology are required and where the main character and his car make a perfect team could hardly be a better fit for the Audi brand,” says Kai Mensing, responsible for product placement at AUDI AG. As an animated movie does not need real vehicles, implementation differed considerably from regular placement. The lead time for product placement in the movie and the accompanying campaign was around three years.

Behind the scenes of „Spies in Disguise“: Art Director Michael Knapp (r.), Designer Tyler Carter (M.) and Motion Graphic Designer John Koltai (l.) from Blue Sky Studios.

Working Together to Make a Design Masterpiece

yet sustainable mobility of the future. Audi designers came up with its exterior and interior in close cooperation with Blue Sky Studios. The Audi design team enjoyed the unusual nature of the task: “Normally we have to get the best out of a strictly limited scope, but in this case there were very few parameters restricting us. Our ambition was for the car to tell a story that fits the movie perfectly while also embodying the strengths and values of our brand,” says Frank Rimili, Exterior Design at AUDI AG. The Audi design team entered the planning phase with three drafts. The biggest challenge was integrating the car into the movie’s design world with its oversubscribed aesthetics together with the artists of Blue Sky Studios. As the Audi RSQ e-tron will only be seen virtually on the big screen for a limited amount of time, the car must be directly recognizable for the viewer and convey the typical Audi DNA. The RSQ e-tron was created in just under six months in close cooperation with the animation team from Blue Sky Studios. The vehicle was developed exclusively virtually using special CAD software. This way of working enabled a continuous data exchange between Blue Sky Studios and Audi Design and thus an efficient and continuous further development of the design. The proportions of a super sports car combined with the clear lines, the perfectly arched surfaces and the futuristic interior underline the visionary design language of the brand. Design highlights such as the cooling ribs on the fenders or the spectacular headlights and the high-tech interior demonstrate our attention to detail. 

„Spies in Disguise“: The movie features another superstar alongside super spy Lance Sterling: the Audi RSQ e-tron, the first concept car from the Four Rings to be created exclusively for an animated film.

A Four-Wheeled Protagonist

The RSQ e-tron is the perfect fit for the main character, secret agent Lance Sterling, while it also showcases electric mobility and technology made by Audi. Although the name might initially suggest otherwise, the model is not an SUV but a sports car. The car and the name are an allusion to the Audi RSQ from the 2004 movie “I, Robot.” Both models are futuristic, sporty two-seaters with a fully automated driving mode and other intelligent technical features. The RSQ e-tron brings together a number of features: An electric drive, virtual exterior mirrors, laser light, functions on demand, a holographic speedometer, automated driving and fictional features tailored to the needs of movie hero and super spy Lance Sterling.

„Spies in Disguise“: The movie features another superstar alongside super spy Lance Sterling: the Audi RSQ e-tron, the first concept car from the Four Rings to be created exclusively for an animated film.

Perfectly Showcasing the Brand: Product Placement at Audi

As part of its new brand strategy, Audi is actively pursuing measures with a particularly large reach. Blockbuster films offer Audi an outstanding setting in which to present itself as a premium provider and excite fans, customers and potential customers for the brand. The credible, organic integration of the brand is the key. The models become a part of the plot. Motion pictures often resonate down the decades, firstly being shown in movie theaters, then in home entertainment and finally on television. In this way, a single movie can reach hundreds of millions of people around the world – far outstripping conventional advertising. Product placement has a long tradition at Audi. In December, this tradition will continue in a surprising manner with the placement of the Audi RSQ e-tron in the animated spy comedy adventure “Spies In Disguise.” It is more than ten years since Tony Stark first sat in an Audi R8 Coupé as “Iron Man.” This was followed by blockbusters like “Iron Man 2” (2010) with an Audi R8 Spyder, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) with an Audi R8 Coupé, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (2017) with an Audi A8 and “Avengers Endgame” with the fully electric Audi e-tron GT concept. 

About “Spies in Disguise

Blue Sky Studios presents “Spies in Disguise,” an animated spy comedy adventure set in the slick, high-octane, globe-trotting world of international espionage. Super spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) are almost exact opposites. Lance is smooth, suave and debonair. Walter is…not. But when events take an unexpected turn, this unlikely duo is forced to team up for the ultimate mission that will require an almost impossible disguise – transforming Lance into the brave, fierce, majestic…pigeon. Walter and Lance suddenly have to work as a team, or the whole world is in peril. “Spies in Disguise” is directed by Troy Quane and Nick Bruno inspired by the animated short film “Pigeon: Impossible” by Lucas Martell, and stars Will Smith, Tom Holland, Rashida Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Reba McEntire, Rachel Brosnahan, Karen Gillan, DJ Khaled and Masi Oka. The film is produced by Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Michael J. Travers with Chris Wedge and Kori Adelson serving as executive producers. “Spies in Disguise” opens in U.S. theaters December 25, 2019.

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