As Minority Report, Steven Spielberg's latest sci-fi feature, hits theaters this week, moviegoers may be witnessing the future merging of Hollywood and Madison Ave.
Along with headliner Tom Cruise, the film stars a number of 20th-century brand names in fictional futuristic ads that the actors interact with.
Just as video-game makers have recognized the verisimilitude real-world brands can bring to their alternate worlds, Mr. Spielberg looked to marketers such as Nokia, Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus, Pepsi-Cola, Guinness Ltd., Reebok International and American Express to lend veracity to his sci-fi story. And advertisers hope the unusual prominence in the movie's story line will gain them some eyeballs they wouldn't get anywhere else.
Two of those advertisers, Nokia and Lexus, are also full-time movie tie-in sponsors, who spent about $5 million to $7 million each in paid media to promote the placements, mostly on TV, according to executives close to the companies.
The movie, jointly distributed by 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks Pictures SKG, tells the story about a society in the future where crime can been determined before it occurs. Mr. Cruise plays a cop who has the tables turned on him when he is accused of murder.
In one key scene, Mr. Cruise's character runs for a subway, trying to make his getaway. In this world, advertising messages can recognize names and faces. In the space of just 45 seconds, a barrage of interactive billboards call out the name of his character, John Anderton, in an effort sell him their products.
"John Anderton, you look like you could use a Guinness," one billboard says.
Bonnie Curtis, a producer on Minority Report, said it was Mr. Spielberg's intention to use real advertisers for this movie.
"Steven wants you to feel like you are on planet Earth," she said. "He felt that having real companies is better. He said, 'We are not making a sci-fi. We are making a future-reality film.'"
To gain control over the advertising content, Ms. Curtis said, Mr. Spielberg wanted to use one agency, in this case, 3 Ring Circus, Los Angeles, which was approved by all of the advertisers. (3 Ring Circus, in April, split into two agencies: TAG, Los Angeles, and Concrete Pictures, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.)
In another ad, for Pepsi-Cola's Aquafina, Mr. Cruise's character gets "splashed" from an interactive billboard as he drives by. Other spots appear as holograms that characters walk through.
For a Reebok spot, a futuristic track appears with hooded athletes in zippy, space-age running suits. Before running what appears to be a 100-meter dash, one athlete programs a computer on his forearm. Reebok appears on the starting blocks. At the end of the spot the word "download" appears, as Mr. Spielberg envisions a world where consumers could download clothes from ads.
Lexus created a sports car, the Maglev, for the film. The in-movie commercial is a fantasy sequence featuring a man with a bow and arrow. The images are blended with a woman driving the car in a desert.
In the Nokia spot, a split screen is used to show men and women using a phone with video. A transparent Nokia logo floats through the screen. Nokia also worked with the film's producers to create futuristic communicating devices. Nokia's TV commercial of the present uses scenes from the movie.
A spokeswoman denied that Nokia is spending $5 million to $7 million in paid media for the movie; she wouldn't reveal other details.
Wayne Friedman, AdAge.com. June 17, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Crain Communications, Inc.. All rights reserved.