STEVEN SPIELBERG, TOM CRUISE TO APPEAR IN HITACHI ADS

Unusual Deal Promotes Release of 'War of the Worlds'

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LOS ANGELES -- Consumer electronics giant Hitachi has brokered a deal to integrate its products into the Paramount Pictures summer movie War of the Worlds, and feature the film’s director, Steven Spielberg, and star, Tom Cruise in its marketing materials.
Image: DreamWorks
Set in contemporary New Jersey, 'War of the Worlds' is a remake of the 1938 Orson Welles radio classic and a 1953 movie.



The deal came together in a matter of months, which is warp speed for an agreement between a feature film and a marketer. The arrangement aims to give Hitachi the kind of exposure its competitors, such as Sony Electronics and Samsung, have gained with Hollywood tie-ins in the past.

'Ultimate visual experience'

An extensive multimedia campaign kicks off next week from Hitachi’s ad agency, Dentsu, that will spread across TV, print, online and in-store. It will be noteworthy for the appearance of Messrs. Spielberg and Cruise, who normally do not participate in marketing campaigns for consumer products. Under the tagline “The Ultimate Visual Experience,” the ads pay homage to the filmmaker and actor, comparing the quality of their work with the quality of Hitachi’s high-end products.

As Messrs. Spielberg and Cruise step in to back Hitachi’s efforts, they are in an increasingly crowded field. High-profile celebrities are appearing side-by-side with brands more often these days, such as the recent Super Bowl ad for Heineken featuring Brad Pitt, the John Travolta link with General Motors Corp.’s Cadillac division around Be Cool, and Robert DeNiro in American Express spots.

Paramount Pictures distributes the film in North America and UIP distributes in international markets, including Japan. "The Ultimate Visual Experience" campaign will launch on May 1 and continue through August 31.

Hitachi plans a summer-long effort around the movie in key international markets, with a price tag expected to rival the tens of millions that Samsung spent
Image: DreamWorks
Set in contemporary New Jersey, 'War of the Worlds' is a remake of the 1938 Orson Welles radio classic and a 1953 movie.

worldwide on its tie-in with Warner Bros.’ The Matrix Reloaded.

Hitachi will promote its plasma TVs, DVD camcorders and other consumer gadgets in the campaign.

Products embedded in film

The products will not only be seen in the film, but will also be leveraged for a global promotion, said Kazuhiro Tachibana, general manager of Hitachi’s consumer business group. The promotion will have local extensions and consumer offers, executives said.

War of the Worlds marks the first time that Hitachi has done a branded entertainment deal, and it is the first film tie-in ever for the company. The marketer chose the film, in part, because its June 29 release occurs during the key summer-selling season. However, this year, there’s no FIFA World Cup, Olympics or other high-profile events with worldwide appeal that Hitachi has traditionally put its marketing dollars behind.

Hitachi’s plans to use a major Hollywood film to promote its wares comes at a time when electronics manufacturers are facing a glut of plasma TV screens in the worldwide marketplace and are seeking out any opportunity to make their screens appeal to consumers. At Hitachi, which reported $81 billion in sales for the fiscal year ended March 2004, executives said they are trying to boost sales of flat-screen TVs by 67% during the next year.

Paramount’s marketing and promotions
Image: DreamWorks
Set in contemporary New Jersey, 'War of the Worlds' is a remake of the 1938 Orson Welles radio classic and a 1953 movie.


executives bartered the deal, along with Norm Marshall, president of NMA Entertainment & Marketing, a Los Angeles-based firm that has a strategic alliance with Dentsu, Japan’s largest ad agency.

Quick turnaround was challenge

There were a number of other challenges in putting the alliance together, with the quick turnaround being a hurdle as well as navigating the Japanese-based conglomerate’s corporate culture, said executives close to the deal.

Creative materials were difficult to come by, mainly because Mr. Spielberg did not want to release images of the aliens for fear they’d get out to the public and spoil their impact in the movie. The uncluttered campaign instead focuses on Messrs. Cruise and Spielberg, saluting their latest endeavor.

The movie is based on an H.G. Wells novel and a radio broadcast by Orson Welles in 1938 that was so realistic listeners thought Martians had landed on Earth. (A movie version appeared in 1953.) The remake, from Paramount and DreamWorks SKG, is set in contemporary New Jersey and co-stars Dakota Fanning.

Hitachi’s new DVD camcorders were used during filming and are expected to be in the final cut in pivotal scenes that show the characters using them to capture images of the aliens invading Earth.
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