At just under one-and-a-half hours in running time, it is not a conventional TVC. Cellular could be one of the longest advertisements ever made.
Jokes apart, Cellular is a Hollywood movie. What sets it apart is its subject matter, cellphones, which are an integral and significant part of our lives. As an allure, the strapline on the movie poster says: "If the signal dies, so does she."
The film, which got Nokia's backing, represents a new mark in the growing field of product placement. This is not to say that there is no competent direction (David Ellis). The film sports some good performances, a sense of humor and a decent script as well.
This extended promotion for the Nokia 6600 camera phone stars Kim Basinger as a kidnap victim and Chris Evans as the guy who tries to save her. The background plot is simple: Some bad cops are caught on film and stage a kidnapping to get the evidence back. Basinger's character is trapped but manages to call a random number by jacking the wires of a smashed rotary-dial housephone (the kind of phones prevalent in India till Beetel and Sunil Mittal came up with push-button phones).
The film seems to suggest that without a cellphone, adventure, romance, and even saving the loved ones are completely impossible tasks.
Apparently, a number of phone companies were approached to sponsor the film and the list included Cingular, Sprint and Nextel. But it was Nokia that liked the idea best and was prepared to bank-roll it.
Naturally, the camera's spotlight is on the phonemaker all the way. Guess what? There are even freeze-frames of the phone's screen at the end of the film upon which the credits are shown.
There's a sequence in the film which shows one of the characters using his cameraphone to video the catwalk of bikini-wearing beauties. He turns around and candidly says, "This is the single greatest phone ever made!"
That's not all. At the conclusion of the film when there's evidence that one of the bad cops made calls to criminals, the hero (Evans) says, "You should check the features on this phone, bud," -- flashing his Nokia.
What stares out is this film has gone beyond simple product placement. The phone is the actual star, while the cast comprises supporting actors.
As US television watchers are now able to filter out ads using smart devices like DVRs, advertisers are innovating fast and are increasingly using the big screen to get their message across. There are prominent Samsung phone placements in The Matrix and mobile phone tie-ins for Charlie's Angels. Will Bollywood now follow suit?
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