Vroom to move

Fiat put coin into pix in effort to rev up brand

ROME — Fiat, Italy’s largest automaker, today in Cannes will announce plans to invest in European and international film production to spruce up its brand image.

Fiat’s move into movies as a promotional tool comes just as Italy is poised to reintroduce product placement in the local film industry, following a decades-long ban due to its being considered a deceptive form of advertising.

“Cars have long played key roles in movies. Think of the Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider in ‘The Graduate,’ or the Minis in ‘The Italian Job,’ ” Fiat chief of marketing Lapo Elkann told Variety.

Elkann, the nephew of the late Italian auto magnate Gianni Agnelli and his designated successor, said high-profile pics such as the James Bond franchise would be ideal for Fiat. However, he also is interested in midrange budget projects by young European directors, such as local box office heavyweight Gabriele Muccino (“The Last Kiss”), who has shot some Fiat commercials.

“Though we are going for different types of demographics, Fiat certainly needs to boost its image with youth consumers,” Elkann said.

The 26-year-old Fiat marketing topper was mum about how much coin the car manufacturer intends to allocate for film, but said said movies and musicvideos would play a key role in Fiat’s renewed marketing drive. U.S. pubbery Hill & Knowlton will act as the automaker’s main liaison with the international film community.

Elkann will announce Fiat’s first foray into films at a confab on product placement at the Italian pavilion.

The confab is sponsored by state film entity Cinecitta Holding whose general director, Alessandro Usai, was on the team that drafted Italy’s product placement rules, now in the final stages of parliamentary approval.

“The law will be very deregulated. There will be practically no limitations, except for no cigarettes, no alcohol and no pornography,” Usai said.

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