Marketers up backing for online short films

A growing number of marketers are bankrolling the production of a slate of short films for the web as more consumers turn to the Internet for entertainment.

Carmakers have long been dominating the short film space, while packaged food companies have focused more on web series. But the latest producers stepping up their filmmaking efforts include premium ice cream brand Magnum, Chanel and beer brand Stella Artois.

Magnum, in particular, has turned to fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld to helm Rachel Bilson in three films that will bow at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 21. Films will also unspool on Magnum’s Facebook page.

The pics feature Bilson as an famous model, world-renowned ballerina and art student who wind up finding solace in a Magnum.

Purpose of the pics is to introduce American auds to the Magnum brand that’s established itself overseas over the past two decades and will launch six ice cream bars in the U.S. throughout April.

“The films capture the indulgence and luxury of Magnum ice cream,” Bilson said. “My character believes that a day without pleasure is a day lost, and that’s a perfect representation of the Magnum lifestyle.”

But Magnum, owned by Unilever, is especially interested in going after the female consumer.

“Karl Lagerfeld has inspired women to pursue the pleasures of fashion and life gracefully for decades,” said Brian Manning, VP of brand building in the ice cream division at Unilever. “We intuitively knew he would carry that same mentality to the set. His creative vision brings the pleasure of enjoying Magnum ice cream to life in an inspirational, beautiful art form.”

Bilson will also appear in print and TV ads that start rolling out in April; Lagerfeld also shot the print ads.

Separately, Keira Knightley stars in a short film from Chanel for its Coco Mademoiselle fragrance that was helmed by Joe Wright, who directed the actress in “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement.” Short, which features Knightley as a sultry seductress, bowed online March 21. Film is essentially a sequel to a 2007 short that repped Knightley’s debut as a Chanel spokeswoman and was also directed by Wright.

Meanwhile, Stella Artois has launched a casting call for an aspiring actor to play the fictional King of Cannes, Jacques d’Azur, in a film that the beer maker will produce and launch at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Film ties in with an ad effort Stella Artois introduced at last year’s film fest, which focused on the mysterious disappearance of the international playboy. The thesp will also receive a trip for two to Cannes, and live up the King of Cannes’ lifestyle with a stay in a suite at the Carlton hotel, meals at restaurants and passes to parties at the festival.

Stella Artois is also casting the leading lady to appear in the film through its website.

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