Value exchange deals put brands among the stars

Marketers forced to cope with shrinking budgets had to trade goods for exposure at the ultra high profile gathering of big screen glitterati. Jo Roberts reports from the south of France

“Value exchange deals” were a la mode for marketers at this year’s Cannes Film Festival as companies attempted to ensure exposure despite slashed budgets at the annual film festival.

Marketers attending the event last week were keen for the filmstar lifestyle to rub off on their brands. But instead of spending money, many companies chose to trade goods for exposure.

Renault provided a fleet of cars to ferry actors and festival guests to the red carpet, while one of the technology partners of the festival, Osmose, provided a post-production photograph service for developing pictures in one of the Orange-sponsored media lounges. Hewlett-Packard also provided free use of its printers to Osmose.

The festival likes to build on long-term partnerships and we feel we’re now in position where we have a solid working relationship

Francois Martin – HP marketing director

HP’s partnership with the festival, which has run for five years, comes to an end this year. However, HP marketing director Francois Martin, who looks after the promotion of the print side of the business, believes there will be a new deal for the company to have a presence at the festival next year.

Martin says: “We have been working with Cannes for five years and it takes time to build up the relationship. The festival likes to build on long-term partnerships and we feel we’re now in position where we have a solid working relationship.”

Like others with an eye on the now ubiquitous “value exchange” system, however, HP is considering how best to do this. Other HP sources at the festival revealed that the company’s spend there has been “streamlined” to reduce costs, and if it continues to support the festival, it will work on further ways to ensure “cost efficiency”.

The festival itself has long relied on corporate involvement as the organisers have no formal marketing budget, meaning that persuading brands to spend on its behalf is a vital element of its business strategy.

While much of this is achieved through persuading media outlets to fill column inches with reviews of the films on show or discussion on the fashion labels worn by actresses, the Cannes festival team also created a consistent visual identity for the first time this year to try to create a more cohesive brand for the event.

Cannes Festival marketing director Marie-Pierre Hauville says the event has to make a big impression on everyone attending it to ensure widespread media coverage and continued support by external businesses.

She admits the organisers have to be creative with how it promotes the festival because it has no official money allocated for advertising.

“We have no proper budget to market the festival so we have to seduce our partners every year but ensure it’s mutually beneficial. We are very demanding about every detail. This is what the press and media will receive first as the impression of the festival,” she explains.

As well as providing the logistics behind the festival, brands used this year’s event to add a bit more glamour to their own marketing strategies. Renault used the opening ceremony for the screening of the Disney Pixar film Up to kick off an international promotion. Its three new Grand Scenic models were used to transport the Disney team and were painted in the colours of the film. This collaboration with Disney will now be continued through promotional materials displayed in 20 countries following the event, to encourage people to visit Renault showrooms around the world.

HP’s Martin believes the partnership with Cannes allows his company to showcase its technology. From the giant poster on the outside of the Palais des Festivals promoting Cannes to HP-branded keycards at one of the iconic festival hotels, The Majestic, all surfaces appeared to be covered to promote its digital printing techniques.

The PC side of the business provided an area in The Majestic hotel for guests to use its machines, while a recent partnership with fashion designer Vivienne Tam – which resulted in the launch of a designer mini laptop at New York Fashion Week – was also on show in the HP lounge.

Despite estimates that attendance was down by at least one-fifth, enthusiasm from global media appeared as frenetic as usual with 4,000 journalists attending the festival over its two-week run. Appearances by big film stars such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt bolstered press coverage.

Although the likes of Vanity Fair cancelled its festival party – usually the talk of the town – Cannes’ Hauville believes the global spectacular ensures exposure for many brands.

“To be part of the festival is to be part of the promotion, advertising and publicity system,” she argues.

The red carpet might now have been rolled away following two weeks of film premieres, but the communications team at Cannes is already working on attracting companies to next year’s event. It aims to ensure the film festival continues to bring to life not only media front pages but corporate marketing budgets.

How some of the other partners support Cannes Film Festival

Europcar offers festival-goers a variety of vehicles to help them travel around during the event.
Chopard watchmaker and jeweller supports the Golden Palm, Mini Palms, the Golden Camera and the Trophy Chopard rewarding young talents at the festival.
Orange has supported the festival for the past nine years and this year became the official partner for telecoms and new media.
Kodak is the main sponsor of the Camera d’Or award. It uses the festival to promote its products and services for cinema.

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