There’s a slight departure from the usual format of A Word From our Sponsors this week. We’re switching off the telly and taking a trip to the flicks.
Now, I don’t know about you but one of the most critical aspects of cinema-going for me is the ability to judge your arrival time so that your bum hits the fold-down seat just as the adverts finish and the trailers are starting.
Because cinema adverts are awful. Really, really crap. It’s as if they know they have a captive audience and don’t even bother trying to be interesting or entertaining. Or maybe they make the adverts so mind-numbingly dull so that no matter how awful the film turns out to be, it’ll still look good compared to the adverts you had to sit through first.
Yes, I’m generalising here, there is the occasional decent cinema advert – but studies* have shown that exactly 99.999% are crap.
However. Since 2003, there has been one light shining bright in the darkness of cinema ads – and that light is Orange.
Not an orange bulb – the mobile phone company. Their “gold spot” adverts (so-called because they pay a premium to have the ad screened in the prime spot just before the film starts) have managed that rare trick of being so amusing and entertaining that they are now an integral part of the whole cinema experience.
Nothing sets up the start of the movie you have paid to see and whets the appetite better than the wonderful bonus of discovering a brand-new Orange ad preceding it.
In fact, in some cases, I’ve left the cinema with the feeling that the Orange ad was much better than the film I’d sat through…
Up until now, the ads have all followed a familiar set-up – a famous actor or director is pitching an idea for a film to the Orange Film Funding Board, led by American executive Mr Dresden (actor Brennan Brown) and Brit Mr Eliot (Steve Furst), who inevitably end up twisting the idea into something that will help them sell mobile phones, while hilariously taking the mickey out of the star into the bargain.
The impressive list of guest stars featured over the years includes the likes of John Cleese, Anjelica Huston, Patrick Swayze, Carrie Fisher, Darth Vader (yes, THE Darth Vader), Lord Of The Rings star Sean Astin, Spike Lee, Roy Scheider, Dennis Hopper, Snoop Dogg, Reservoir Dogs’ Michael Madsen, Rob Lowe and, er, Steven Seagal.
Earlier this year, however, Orange switched to a new ad agency who decided to change the format of the campaign. Fortunately, they wisely decided to keep Mr Dresden and co, but have moved them from a funding board to actual film production at “Orange Film Studios”, so in future ads we’ll see them on set and promoting the films they have made.
In fact, the first of the new-style ads – featuring Emilio Estevez as the star of Saving Private Ryan’s Number – is currently screening at cinemas (or you can see it at the Orange Film Studios website, along with a trailer for the fictional movie and film critic Mark Kermode interviewing Mr Dresden and Mr Eliot).
However, for this week’s classic ads, I’m going to pick three of my favourites from the old-style Orange ads. Enjoy!
First up, Sean Astin, who played Sam in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy:
Next, former brat-packer and West Wing star Rob Lowe:
And finally, Sith Lord (but what he really wants is to direct) Darth Vader:
* Me studying adverts when I go the cinema, that is.