Subversive promo campaigns

'Thunderpants' mocks Spielberg's 'A.I.'

CANNES — Steven Spielberg’s upcoming cyberkid pic “A.I.” has created a media frenzy over its groundbreaking promo campaign of mock online news reports and linked dummy sites purporting to provide info on “real” characters connected to the tale of artificial intelligence. It’s a wonderfully subversive use of media to promote a film.

But what’s with this promo trailer playing on the Croisette about some kid named Patrick with amazing powers of flatulence?

In image, sound, typography and feel, it’s a dead ringer for the “A.I.” trailer playing in theaters across America. However, where the “A.I.” trailer introduces a seemingly normal young boy and then fades out ominously on the news that “he’s not real,” this trailer intros a fresh-faced boy and fades to an exhortation to “pull my finger.”

If it sounds a little too subversive to be connected to the “A.I.” juggernaut, it’s just funny enough for a Cannes campaign promoting Pathe Intl.’s new Peter Hewitt-helmed kid comedy “Thunderpants.” And yes, its hero is a gaseously gifted youngster.

Said Pathe’s sales chief, Alison Thompson, “The response so far has been fantastic.” She’s not sure if the Spielberg camp back in L.A. has, uh, gotten wind of their spoof. “We’re told Spielberg has a great sense of humor,” Thompson said, hopefully.

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