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Internet, cinema, advertising…How to c...
|02.2006 Internet, cinema, advertising…How to control their power?
Waiting for PIRELLI’S answer in march with “THE CALL”
A short film or a long ad? That is the question that specialists from the advertising industry have already started arguing about before the premiere of ”The Call” in march 2006 on a specially created Web site www.Pirellifilm.com. What is left for us, the Internet surfing spectators/users, is the pleasure of watching.
The American actor John Malkovich and the British model Naomi Campbell star in this 15-minute video commissioned by Pirelli, the Italian tire maker, that will become the feature presentation in a new marketing campaign. ”The Call” is set in the Vatican and involves a battle between Good and Evil, featuring the ascetic-looking Malkovich as a priest and the modeling bad girl Campbell as….the devil.
What does any of this have to do with selling tires or even telecommunications cables, Pirelli's other main product? Though the film is still being edited and few details were disclosed, Pirelli says the story provides a metaphorical illustration of its long-running slogan - "Power is nothing without control."
The film is also one of the most elaborate examples yet of the intersection of the entertainment and advertising industries, with the Internet and other new media shaping up as the main crossroads.
Many advertisers are worried that traditional ways of reaching consumers, including the 30-second television spot, are losing their power to persuade. Television viewers have more channels and media to choose from, and digital video recorders and video on demand allow them to skip ads entirely. To reach consumers today, you have to entertain them, marketers say, rather than approach them with a hard sell.
Pirelli says its project, developed by the Leo Burnett advertising agency, goes several steps further than the previous attempts to approach the Internet browsing consumer made by other companies from the automotive industry . For one, the branding will be unusually subtle, with more Christian crosses than Pirelli P's in the frame.
”The Call” will be the centerpiece of Pirelli's marketing for several years; and advertising in other media, including print and television, will be built around the Internet film. Pirelli said ”The Call” and its associated advertising would account for 60 percent of the company's marketing budget - a Hollywood-style gamble on one production.
"We're talking about a very important project, not just an 'Internet' project," said Nicola Novellone, chief operating officer at Leo Burnett Italy, a subsidiary of Publicis Groupe.
”The Call” is Burnett's first major project for Pirelli, which had been working mostly with an Italian agency, Armando Testa. Pirelli also chose a new media-buying agency, Maxus BBS, part of WPP Group, replacing Media Italia, a subsidiary of Armando Testa.
The film may represent a new direction for tire advertising, but it is not entirely out of character for Pirelli, which has always relied more on image-driven advertising. In 1994, for example, Pirelli ran an attention-grabbing print and poster advertisement, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, in which the track and field athlete Carl Lewis crouched in a sprinter's starting stance while wearing a pair of women's red high heels.
Perhaps the most famous bit of Pirelli brand-building, however, isn't its advertising. The Pirelli calendar, which began as a collection of gasoline station pinups in 1964, has evolved into an artsy display of the work of photographers like Leibovitz - and the scantily clad bodies of some of the biggest-name models. The calendar isn't sold, only distributed to Pirelli business partners, but back copies are available on eBay.
The 2006 version features Jennifer Lopez and Kate Moss. Both Campbell and Malkovich have appeared in previous calendars, which helped to persuade them to appear in "The Call," which is directed by Antoine Fuqua, whose films include "Training Day" and "King Arthur."
Like Fuqua's previous films, ”The Call” is shot in a dark and moody style. The story begins with a phone ringing incessantly in the night. Malkovich answers it, setting off what Pirelli describes as "a battle between the forces of darkness and light." Before the filming began, the final script was shown to Father John, the Vatican liaison for relations with the movie industry. Father John (who was Mel Gibson’s consultant for “The Passion”) helped develop the idea and considered it very effective and not injurious to the Church, its rites and ceremonies. John Malkovich asked to personally meet with this extraordinary figure to better interpret the role, and he made several suggestions for parts of the dialog and the liturgy that made the film even more realistic. The film was shot in Rome last fall at the Santo Spirito Hospital and in an old abandoned industrial warehouse. Most of the filming, which took a week, was done at night, while the delicate post-production phase took three months to complete and was done entirely in the studios in Hollywood.
Hollywood has flooded us in recent years with productions on religious subject which has become a sui generic trend in the film industry, touching the contemporary social tendency. The last example for this is the release of “The Da Vinci Code” based on the book by Dan Brown. How far the presented interpretations clash with the canons of the church?! The question is still under theological consideration. What is ahead of us now is to see Pirelli’s version, which, again in Hollywood style will have sequels. But we should keep in mind that Pirelli’s project is a figurative representation of the long-lasting concept that is fundamental for the company’s activities and goals to create outstanding, innovative products with unprecedented performance and reliability in which the power is an inherent characteristic and control is not a question of necessity, it is just obligatory.