Unilever has created a seven-minute film starring the movie star called "Alchemist" to launch Lux Super Rich Shine in those three Asian markets. Filmed in Prague, the spy story revolves around a secret high-tech lab in Europe developing a formula to make hair rich and shiny.
Lux has always been identified with glamorous Hollywood celebrities like Marilyn Monroe. Marketers in North Asia are also increasingly blurring the lines between advertising and entertainment to engage with consumers.
While luxury marketers like BMW and Chanel have created short films, fast moving consumer goods are just getting into the genre, said Jun Fukawa, exec creative director of JWT, Tokyo, who developed the Lux film concept.
"Lux is the No. 1 brand in Japan but to fend off the competition, I felt we need to develop a memorable story to reinforce the emotional connection between Lux and its target market, young women. We didn't think a simple TV spot or viral video was enough to tell the Lux story, so we decided to do a mini-feature film and engaged all of Hollywood's best talent and trappings for this launch," said Mr. Fukawa.
The production team included director Dawn Shadforth and Oscar-nominated screenplay writer Jeffrey Caine.
The full-length film, which went online at www.luxfilm.jp on March 18, is the emotional center of an integrated ad campaign running in TV, cinema, outdoor, print, in-store and digital media in China and Japan, with media planning and buying by Mindshare.
"The film is the key asset in the portfolio," said Helen Heatley, Shanghai-based director in charge of Lux advertising for Northeast Asia at JWT. It is "completely original and tailor made for [the] Japan and China markets and consumers."
So far, it is not scheduled to run in other markets but Unilever will also run a five-minute version of the film on China Central Television (CCTV) and a two-minute version in Japan on free-to-air terrestrial and pay-TV television channels such as Kansai, Chukuyo, Kanto, Kasai, News Corp.'s Fox TV, Sony Corp.'s AXN and Viacom's MTV. In Japan, mobile users can also watch the film on handheld devices.
The Lux film is Unilever's second branded entertainment effort in China in the past year. In mid-2008, the company sponsored a Chinese version of TV show "Ugly Betty," called "Chou Nu Wu Di" (Ugly Wudi). Unilever has used the show to promote three brands, Dove shower cream, Clear anti-dandruff shampoo and Lipton milk tea, in a deal orchestrated by GroupM's Mindshare division in Shanghai. The first two seasons have consistently taken the No. 1 spot in the show's time slot on the provincial channel Hunan Satellite Television.
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