Creative multi-tasker James Franco has signed on for another campaign for Samsung, this time to promote the brand's new Galaxy Camera that lets you shoot and share pictures and video straight from the device. As part of the campaign, Mr. Franco starred in and directed a new online film to promote the device, and over the holidays, he will also give fans a peek inside his personal and professional life, using the camera to share moments with his friends and family. So if you're friends with Mr. Franco, you might want to stay away from the third glass of eggnog -- or not.
Mr. Franco said he signed on to work with Samsung because it was a "good relationship" -- and he likes the products, he said. In fact, he was speaking to Creativity from the set of his new movie, "Palo Alto Stories," an independent film project based on a collection of his stories -- where he said he'd been showing off the camera to everyone on set. But what is it like for this writer/actor/teacher/grad student to work within the confines of advertising? "I signed on knowing that they have certain needs," he said. "The films are designed to show off the product, so the pieces we do are designed to do that." He said that the client, Samsung, understands that he understands that aspect of shooting commercials, so it was a smooth journey.
The film, which is the main element of the campaign--does manage to highlight the camera's cool features. In it, Mr. Franco saunters around at a birthday party, trying out the device on revelers. He snaps a picture of a couple very much in love -- only to have a photo bomber get in the way. No matter: using the Galaxy Camera, he deftly crops out the offending bystander and shares the picture. Scenarios like this continue, with Mr. Franco providing commentary throughout.
Mr. Franco said the way he works is that he takes the basic sketches and then tries to actualize them by making them more human. "I want to show people using [the product] the way they actually would use it," he said. For example, the scene in the film where a guy leans in to kiss a girl, only to hit his head on a tree that's in-between them, was sketched out. "But I had to make it happen and make it look realistic, so it took a few takes." In case you're worried about the guy's impending head injuries, Mr. Franco said they used a padded tree bark for the rehearsal, and only swapped in the real tree for the actual shot.
This is the third time Mr. Franco has teamed up with Samsung. He did a cameo in an online series by Samsung, called "Fact Checkers Unit," and channeled his multi-tasking personality in "The Ultimate Multi-Tasker" for the Galaxy Note earlier in the year, via Cheil USA. Mr. Franco also directed the latter, which showed off how the Note was a useful tool for his myriad creative pursuits--which the campaign itself has fed into. "I like being part of the creative process, because it involves most of the things I love, like collaborating with others, framing, telling a story," he said. "Plus, I get to work with the best toys when I do commercials, so that's fun."
"As a photographer and artist with a strong understanding of social media, [James Franco] made perfect sense to show off this new category," said Ms. Kim. Through January 5, Mr. Franco will also be using the Galaxy camera to shoot his holidays, and posting that content on his personal Twitter and Facebook pages. An accompanying social campaign, dubbed "Share Your Now," will ask people in London and New Yorker to upload images showing how much they love their cities. Five winners a week will receive the new camera, while three winners from each city will be given the chance to have their image as the cover of Time Out Magazine and win a trip to the other city.
While Cheil USA is Samsung's agency, it was not involved in this particular campaign, which was done via SXM. Samsung has also worked with other big-name celebrities like David Beckham and LeBron James to launch other products. "It is very simple for a brand to reach out and find a celebrity endorser," said Ms. Heesun Kim, director of global mobile marketing at Samsung Electronics. "However, what is much more difficult is finding the right celebrity to personify one's brand."