'Iron Man 3' Product Placement Deal Will See Tony Stark Wield Chinese Gadgets

After buying the naming rights to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, electronics maker TCL enlists the superhero to help boost its brand.

Chinese electronics maker TCL has hired another high-profile Hollywood name to help boost its international brand: Iron Man.

As part of a drive to raise its profile to compete with industry leaders Apple and Samsung, the Huizhou-based electronics company has announced that its televisions, cloud technology and mobile phones will be conspicuously employed by Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr.’s billionaire superhero, in Disney-Marvel’s upcoming Iron Man 3, which is set for release on May 3 in North America, China and other select territories.

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The Iron Man product-placement deal comes fast on the heels of TCL’s eyebrow-raising acquisition of the naming rights to the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood last week. The Chinese company paid $5 million for the right to rechristen the city landmark the TCL Chinese Theatre.

"TCL has attached great importance to the collaboration with Hollywood," CEO Zhao Zhongyao said in a statement. "Through this cross-industry collaboration, we are looking at introducing our latest smart products to consumers from around the world via a wide range of different brand promotion activities associated with the Iron Man 3 theme."

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But whether TCL is the only electronics company to score a product placement in the latest installment of the Iron Man franchise remains to be seen. In sneak-peak footage shown at Hong Kong’s CineAsia industry event in May, Tony Stark could be clearly observed wielding a Samsung camera in one sequence. Samsung and Disney-Marvel’s Chinese co-production partner DMG could not be reached for comment.

“I believe our new generation of products are as good as those from Samsung and Apple,” TCL chairman and co-founder Tomson Li, said in an interview with Bloomberg News at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “This Iron Man cooperation is very useful for us to promote the TCL brand in the global market, including the U.S. and China.”