Nokia, Ericsson, Moto Call Up New Movie Roles – marketing efforts in motion pictures – Brief Article

Todd Wasserman

Actress Helen Hunt stunned Hollywood last fall by starring in no less than four major films. This year, Finnish telephone handset maker Nokia will go Hunt one better with cameos set for about a dozen summer and fall flicks.

Despite slumping demand that has prompted Motorola to lay off employees and Ericsson to suspend advertising, the fight over movie screen deals is still red-hot.

The phone makers’ rationale: The more consumers see the latest gadgets in the hands of stars, the greater the chance they’ll want to snap them up.

Nokia, considered the category pioneer in movie deals, has also scaled back growth projections. But it will still focus its largest promo effort this year behind Warner Bros.’ July 4 entry Cats and Dogs, and the studio’s Oceans 11 (Steven Soderbergh’s Rat Pack remake) due this fall. Of course, a possible SAG strike could alter release dates and other plans.

Nokia’s promotion for Cats and Dogs will not be on the level of its $10 million push behind last year’s Charlie’s Angels, said Ruben Igielko-Herrlich, president of Propaganda, Los Angeles, which handles Nokia’s placement duties. Promos are likely to be Web-oriented, pitting fans of each species against each other.

Other placement deals will see Nokia phones pop up in Steven Spielberg’s AI: Artificial Intelligence; Columbia’s Panic Room, a Jodie Foster feature due out in the fall; Swordfish, a John Travolta thriller; 20th Century Fox’s Dr. Dolittle 2 in October; and MGM’s Legally Blonde, due July 31.

As reported, Ericsson will counter with placement in Paramount’s Tomb Raider, the $100 million Angelina Jolie movie based on the vidgame, which will become the focus of Ericsson’s summer promo activity. Ericsson is also hoping for placement in DreamWorks’Tom Cruise vehicle Vanilla Sky. “We don’t know until the movie opens whether we’re in it,” said Sarah Varley, project manager for entertainment at Ericsson.

Motorola, which hired PMK public relations in December 1999 to further its inroads into Hollywood, is taking a different tack, aligning itself with stars rather than specific properties.

David Pinsky Motorola’s dir-entertainment marketing, said Motorola has deals with the Farrelly Brothers, who have three upcoming movies, including Shallow Hal with Gwyneth Paltrow; and Adam Sandler, whose tentatively titled Adam Sandler’s 8 Crazy Nights is due in December. Sandler-produced films, including the David Spade vehicle The Adventures of Joe Dirt, will also sport Motorola cell phones.

Meanwhile, all three agree the ideal role for a tech player in films is to show someone using an application, say, checking stock quotes, rather than just flashing a logo. “If you see someone using the product and great features, it’s much better than just having someone put a phone against their ear,” said Varley.

COPYRIGHT 2001 BPI Communications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group

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