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Pirelli Rolls into Academy Museum (EXCLUSIVE)

Premium Italian tire brand looks to increase its presence in L.A. market through pair up with film museum.

A tire manufacturer may not be the first company you think of when it comes to sponsoring the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has locked a multiyear deal with Italy’s Pirelli to sponsor the new venue, scheduled to open in 2017.

The Milan-based company will be one of the few consumer brands whose name will be integrated into the museum and featured on press and other marketing materials, as part of the deal and donation.

Given Pirelli’s focus mostly on motorsports like Formula 1 as a promotional vehicle in the past, Pirelli’s decision to back the Academy’s $300 million facility came as a surprise.

Yet Pirelli, known for its premium line of tires that come standard on luxury cars from Audi, Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, to Lamborghini and Porsche has been active in the lifestyle arena for decades through its PZero fashion line, its Miles and Meals cookbook and food events, and high-art calendar, for which it hires notable fashion photographers and models each year (the 2013 calendar, its 40th, was shot by Steve McCurry in Rio de Janeiro).

Company’s also produced short films, including 2005’s “The Call,” which starred John Malkovich and Naomi Campbell and was directed by Antoine Fuqua, and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Mission Zero,” featuring Uma Thurman.

“The Academy Museum will celebrate the movie industry by sharing its heritage and future with people of all ages from around the world,” said Bill Kramer, the Academy’s managing director of development. “Pirelli has a deep commitment to excellence in design, photography and film. We are delighted to have them join us as an active partner in this vital project.”

Financial terms of the Academy Museum sponsorship were not disclosed, but Pirelli sees the deal as a way to further expose its brand to consumers in Los Angeles. California represents 25% of its sales in the United States, with L.A. and Orange County the base of much of its business in the state.

Founded in 1972, Pirelli is the fifth-largest tire manufacturer in the world in sales

“We see this as a big commitment to this market,” Paolo Ferrari, chairman and CEO of Pirelli’s NAFTA region, told Variety.

Pirelli was among the attendees of the launch of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures’ inaugural celebration April 11, hosted by the museum campaign chairs, Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger and Tom Hanks, and the venue’s architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali.

Piano recently collaborated with Pirelli on its tire factory in Settimo, Italy, which is the company’s most efficient and technologically advanced facility.

“We are proud to support the Academy in its efforts to preserve and celebrate motion pictures,” Ferrari said. “The Pirelli brand is founded on excellence in design and innovation and to able join the journey that Renzo Piano so eloquently describes that he envisions for the facility is an honor. Partnering with the Academy is an opportunity that we look forward to being part of as we look to grow our footprint in North America.”

Once open, the Academy Museum will house exhibitions and galleries, special screening rooms, and an interactive education center, and archives of more than 140,000 films, 10 million photographs, 42,000 original film posters, 10,000 production drawings, costumes and props, including Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” the Maltese Falcon and Sam’s piano from “Casablanca.”

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