The Seventh Art (of Sales)

Movies and advertising: a long and prosperous friendship.

Text: Francisco Pardo U. @panshopardo


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Film is clearly one of the best vehicles for embedding a brand in the public subconscious. The collaboration of advertising and cinema dates back to before the 1930s, with product placement starting in early comedies. In fact, the first reel to win an Oscar for Best Picture (in 1929) promoted Hershey’s chocolate bars. Over the years, tobacco companies likewise invested in movies to promote cigarette use, as the 2005 flick Thank You for Smoking illustrates quite well. Today, even the biggest stars and directors hire themselves out to hawk products unabashedly. In early 2000, for example, BMW launched The Hire, a series of eight short action films directed by Ang Lee and Alejandro González Iñárritu, among others. And Prada recruited director Wes Anderson for Castelo Cavalcanti, another promotional mini-film. One of the most recent – and most high profile – initiatives is an advertising campaign that brings together renowned director Martin Scorsese with Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in a short film entitled The Audition, set for release in mid-2015. It’s purpose? To promote Studio City, a US$3.2-billion, Hollywood-inspired super casino in Macau, China. The film’s budget was US$70 million, and rumor has it that each actor took home US$13 million for just two days of filming.


Check out The Hire and other works that blend cinema and advertising.


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