Screencap from Audi A1 film series starring Justin Timberlake
2011 Audi A1 and Justin Timberlake on LA photo shoot
Last month, we told you that Audi had created a short action film with brand ambassador Justin Timberlake to help promote the company's new luxury compact, the A1. The first episode of that film launched yesterday, but if you live in North America, you should probably skip it.
The Next Big Thing is divided into six parts, with one new episode rolling out each Tuesday from now through June 8. Alongside JT, the film stars Dania Ramirez, her sky-high stilettos, and of course, a very bright, very red, impossible to miss, pristine Audi A1. Other co-stars include guns, voiceovers, and bad men wearing black.
Audi bills the film as a suspense drama that unfolds slowly and stealthily: "Who is this John Frank, played by Justin Timberlake? What has he been involved in? The first clues can be found in episode one..." But frankly, Audi, the only clue we're looking for is whether or not the A1 is going to be sold in America. WILL JT TELL US THAT?
Sadly, we think we found the answer to that question before JT even opened his mouth.
Our first clue is the A1 in the film, which sports European plates, unlike the vehicles with U.S. tags in the parking lot behind it. Audi's message? The A1 is not for you, Americans!
Our other clue? There's no way for us to watch the film on the Audi website (www.audi.com/a1), even though Audi keeps emailing us to say that's where the clips will be unveiled. Here's the problem: before entering the website proper, users are required to enter their location. We entered "North America" and poof, we were rerouted to the regular Audi website, which has no section for the A1. We wasted 15 minutes of our lives trying to work through this conundrum, to no avail. That's about the length of all six episodes jammed together, so we can probably just avoid the remaining five clips and call the whole thing a wash.
Only problem is, Audi keeps trying to lure us back in, claiming that The Next Big Thing is more than just a series of films: "interactive elements [in the clips] open up new possibilities"! Unfortunately, the only place to encounter those "new possibilities" is -- you guessed it -- on the America-hatin' A1 website. We take some comfort in the fact that when we visited the site a couple of weeks ago, before some Audi genius "fixed" it, it made our browser go all Lindsay Lohan/Halle Berry (translation: crazy/crashy). Interactivity be damned, we'll watch this stuff on on YouTube.
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A big production: Justin Timberlake and the A1Six exciting internet episodes with Justin Timberlake and the Audi A1
More than just a film: interactive elements open up new possibilities
Each Tuesday from now until June 8 at www.audi.com/a1
Ingolstadt, GERMANY, May 4, 2010 - It's all about the A1, of course. And yet the new, compact Audi A1 stays in the background with elegant restraint. Little wonder, as Justin Timberlake and Dania Ramirez plunge into a suspenseful, mysterious story - through six episodes that can be viewed online. And on the Internet, the lines between reality and fiction are often blurred. Who is this John Frank, played by Justin Timberlake? What has he been involved in? The first clues can be found in episode one, starting today. The suspense rises each Tuesday with another episode, until June 8.
"The Next Big Thing": Justin Timberlake is John Frank, a straight-laced IT specialist. He meets the mysterious Toni, played by Dania Ramirez. John can save her life. More is revealed in steps - that's the idea. The tension builds until the finale - the final episode. There's never a dull moment between episodes on the Internet, either. Interactive elements provide secrets, details and background about each episode: users get to know the characters, see the film from unusual perspectives, and flashbacks fill in the plot.
Swedish director Henrik Sundgren filmed for five days with up to eight cameras - in narrow city streets, a parking deck, in cafés and clubs. Some of the spectacular settings were exclusively for the interactive components. Also playing a part: more than 40 actors, about 100 staff members, the Swedish band Torpedo, and naturally, the A1. If you place all of the episodes end to end, 16 minutes of film were created - excluding the additional virtual scenes.
"The timing for the film was not chosen at random, as you will be able to order the A1 soon", said Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi Board Member for Marketing and Sales. "The film is action-packed and entertaining, perfectly suited to the young target group of our A1. At the same time the movie provides kind of a virtual test drive: it shows skillful handling, technical refinement and presents the self-assured design of the A1. Leading man Justin Timberlake became an Audi brand ambassador in 2010."
All episodes will be shown at www.audi.com/a1. This is the only place the interactive elements can be accessed. The additional offerings open the door to a world behind the scenes of the movie - and to special chances to win, as numerous contests are also linked with the virtual components. The Heimat agency is responsible for the concept design and implementation of the episodes, and the Neue Digitale agency handled networking the film on the Internet.
Each Tuesday until June 8 new A1 episodes, documentaries about these A1 episodes and photographs are available free of charge at www.audi-a1-mediaguide.com.