Denim Brands Bank on the Silver Screen

Never mind blue-screen technology, blue jeans companies are moving into movie theaters to get their message to young people.

PARIS — Never mind blue-screen technology, blue jeans companies are moving into movie theaters to get their message to young people.

Take French denim label Corleone, named after the mob family that is the focus of “The Godfather” movies, which has helped hoist the brand into the coolest cribs of the Hollywood Hills — from Cameron Diaz to Charlize Theron — or Italian brand Meltin’ Pot, which financed a soon-to-be released full-length feature that reeks of urban street cred.

“Advertisers are beginning to understand that people are not turning on the television to watch advertisements,” said Mark Boyd, director of content for British agency BBH, which handles communication strategies for brands such as Levi’s. “Today, there is so much competition from other forms of entertainment that we’re having to reach out to other platforms to engage potential customers and to entertain them.…I think the shift to film is part of that trend.”

“It’s opened a whole new advertising direction for us,” said Augusto Romano, general director for Meltin’ Pot, which bankrolled British photographer Rankin’s first movie, “The Lives of the Saints,” to be released this month.

Romano said the move is a way to link Meltin’ Pot’s image to a lifestyle rather than simply a fashion brand.

“A movie has much more soul to it than, say, a static campaign in a magazine,” said Romano, noting that the movie is not directly linked to jeans. “It’s more about showing the sort of universe that embodies the brand’s philosophy: That Meltin’ Pot is part of everyday life and that these are the sorts of characters who would wear our clothes.”

Meltin’ Pot’s name will nonetheless roll in the credits, and 4 million euros, or $4.7 at current exchange, is being invested in a corollary campaign, including a spring-summer catalogue shot by Rankin that stars the film’s main characters.

Lee Cooper, meanwhile, has signed a distribution and promotion deal for the movie “Domino,” starring a denim-clad Keira Knightley as a bounty hunter.

“We chose that movie as it’s a real story in an authentic universe where people wear jeans that are resistant to an active lifestyle,” said Christian-François Viala, marketing director for Lee Cooper, who added that the firm is scouting for other movies with which to sign promotion deals. “Seeing the prices of jeans today, women want to return to a simple product. It’s kind of a back-to-basics message.”

This story first appeared in the November 17, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Though Lee Cooper’s jeans don’t actually appear in the movie — Knightley is decked out in Miss Sixty throughout — the brand will display “Domino” billboards in select stores situated near movie theaters internationally, as well as feature in-store promotions and contests linked to the film.

“The promotion was chosen specifically to animate our sales points,” Viala said.

Meanwhile, Loom State, Rogan’s organic denim brand, has chosen to finance the West Coast promotion of a surf documentary made by Surf Aid.

“Obviously, if people see your jeans making butts look good in a movie, they are going to go out and buy them, but direct promotion through movies is not really what the brand is about,” said a company spokeswoman, who confirmed that “community” screenings of the documentary would take place in the brand’s showroom over the next few weeks.

Similarly, Diesel is concentrating on linking its image to underground movie projects, such as its sponsorship of the Raindance Film Festival in the U.K., where it presents an award to young filmmakers.

“We have sponsored movies in the past, sometimes purely because we love the content,” said Dan Barton, communications director for Diesel USA Inc., referring to Diesel’s screenings of Theron’s “North Country” across the U.S. where the star held question-and-answer sessions with the audience.

“We are not financing movies themselves, though,” Barton said. “We aren’t going to get too distracted and start thinking that we are movie producers.”