BEIJING: Auto brands advertising in the Chinese market are reporting strong results from both product placement in movies and standalone branded micromovies, to the extent that the latter channel in particular could supplant TVCs.

More than 100 companies released brand micromovies on film and at online portals during the final quarter of 2012, according to a report from Bale Hudong (Beijing) Media Co. In addition, these companies had also arranged product placements in close to 500 micromovies.

Volkswagen has successfully utilised this route, bringing Hollywood star Keanu Reeves on board for a micromovie, Extreme Pursuit, as part of its China Sports Car Project. This featured Reeves alongside brands such as Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini.

"We are integrating marketing, film and social media in an engaging and fascinating way," Markus Nels, director of the Sports Car Project, told China Daily.

"The micromovie brings together intelligent product placement with Chinese and Hollywood stars to deepen Chinese consumers' understanding and appreciation of world-leading sports cars," he added.

Others saw the micromovie as offering better targeting than more traditional media. Gao Fang, vice-general manager of automaker FAW Toyota, indicated that it was a perfect vehicle to reach its intended audience of young and fashionable consumers.

"The combination of advertising and a film story can be easily accepted by young consumers," he noted.

Gao also saw this channel developing further, adding that "due to the unexpected market response, micromovies may replace TV commercials as the major marketing tactic for automakers in the near future".

His view was echoed by Huang Weichong, public relations manager with FAW Volkswagen, who said that a new micromovie for the marque's CC model had received 40m visits in two months. "We see a better result than with TV commercials," he added.

Chinese automakers are also looking to the big screen to make an impact globally, with Guangzhou Automobile Group's Trumpchi E-jet, a hybrid vehicle, featuring prominently in the latest film in the Transformers series in order to improve brand awareness internationally.

A recent online survey at showed that almost 60% of respondents believe that seeing a vehicle in a film helped promote the brand's image, while 33% thought it made people more likely to purchase such a car.

Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by Warc staff