Corporate brands jostle for position

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Many Hollywood films are criticised for the amount of gratuitous product placement shown on screen. Everything from beer to cars to laptops are given the ‘label to camera’ close-up. It’s not surprising then, that at the biggest film festival in the world the largest corporate brands are all jostling for position.

There are the official French sponsors: Renault, which drives the stars around; L Oreal, which makes them look even more beautiful; and Chopard to bejewel them.

NEC, Panasonic, Kodak and Orange handle all the technical aspects between them including the computers in the press room, the flat screen televisions, which babble away all over the Palais transmitting footage of the press conferences, and the official mobile network. The technology revolution has transformed the logistics of attending the Festival in the last ten years.

The accreditation system, which handles around 30,000 applications every year, is also handed by NEC. Applications are now made online and for the past few years there has been a real time ticket management system for industry professionals. Attendees now swipe the barcode on their official pass, enter their ticket request for the red-carpet screenings and check back later in the day to see if they have been successful. In the past tickets were allocated on a first-come, first-served basis to a huge queue of people who had waited in the baking Riviera heat.

Renault is this year supplying a fleet of sparkling new Vel Satis, being very careful to declare that the car has very low emissions. The carmaker has been attached to the Festival for 24 years.

L’Oreal is a founding member of the Cannes Cinéfondation, the film school for future filmmakers, as is Nestlé. L’Oreal has also announced it will be paying tribute to an ‘exceptional woman who represents the motion picture industry’ this year.

Of the many other big US names here, Budweiser, has its own yacht in the harbour, the Big Eagle and is sponsoring the Independent Spirit Awards reception hosted by Samuel L. Jackson, also a member of the main official jury.

The American Pavilion has Adobe attached giving demonstrations of its filmmaking software. Other sponsors include names instantly associated with US space including Coca Cola, the LA Times, trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter and, interestingly, British Airways.

Meanwhile, some sponsors are taking a product and wrapping a cultural event around it. The makers of Sagatiba, the main ingredient in a Mojito, are bringing the spirit of Brazil to Cannes in more ways than one with a beach football match on Monday featuring Brazilian soccer legends Taffarel, Bebeto and Dunga and a late-night samba session that night at Pierre Cardin’s villa the Palais des Boules.

The UK Film Centre has secured a particularly glamorous sponsor for its beachfront terrace with Givenchy Sunglasses. Perhaps the company feels that British eyes see the sun so rarely they will need some serious protection.

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