BY JON ALAIN GUZIK | HollywoodReporter.Com
Troy Warren for CNT
The singer and actress stars in a TV ad for the luxury auto maker, while the film’s Billy Porter will unveil a glittering orange-and-gold custom Maybach.
“It was one of the most fun experiences of my life. Growing up I was always a huge princess fan. I love that this version is funny and empowered.” singer and actress Camila Cabello tells THR in an exclusive interview about what it was like to step into the iconic role of Cinderella, which will be released on Amazon Prime Video on September 3.
While Cinderella may have started off originally as a Sony release, like a lot of the new normal of pandemic business, the film made the switch over to Amazon Prime Video and as part of the film’s marketing, Mercedes-Benz has joined forces with the streamer to launch a multi-tiered campaign that celebrates strong individuals and promotes female empowerment.
The campaign features a TV commercial for the film featuring Cabello, Cinderella director and writer Kay Cannon and producer Shannon McIntosh. It goes live digitally Aug. 2.
In the ad, titled “Rewrite the Story,” the trio repeat lines often used to try to diminish and control women: “Just play your role.” Don’t be so dramatic.” “Be the perfect princess.” “Don’t be so bossy.” At one point, a camera woman says, “Honey, you’re prettier when you smile.”
The coda to the spot shows Cabello walking toward a G-Wagon saying, “It’s time for a new story, the one we write.” As Cabello tells THR, “I love this message of empowerment. I think more and more women are writing the narrative of what women can do. We are powerful, fearless, smart and can do anything.” Mercedes-Benz worked with its agency, Merkley + Partners on the ad, which is directed by Rachel McDonald of Biscuit Filmworks and will run on network and cable channels beginning Aug. 23.
Billy Porter — who plays Fab G, a modern twist on the fairy godmother, in Cinderella — is also part of the campaign, working with Mercedes-Benz on designing a custom Mercedes-Maybach S560 in orange and gold glitter dubbed the “chariot,” which is inspired by Cinderella and his Fabulous Godmother character. Sporting a customized sparkling wrap and featuring massage chairs, it will be revealed in a video on Aug. 2 as well.
Said Porter in a statement, “It’s about time we see a modern-day representation of Cinderella. I want to change the world and encourage people to believe that they can be whoever and whatever they want to be, as long as they stay true to themselves. I’m excited to work with Mercedes-Benz on this campaign where the message of individuality is at the forefront as we empower aspiring girl bosses everywhere to embark on their own journey to the top.”
Ukonwa Ojo, CMO of Amazon Prime Video, says that creating partnerships with brands like Mercedes-Benz is part of its strategy of treating films like Cinderella as major tentpoles on the streamer.
“We acquired the Cinderella movie from Sony and then we basically hit the ground running, transitioning the relationships and the partnership from Sony to Amazon,” Ojo tells THR, “This is a transition for us and we’ve been increasing the number of just these big tentpole films that we bring to our members on the service and it’s been so well received. We look at the premieres like we would as a large theatrical premiere. We show it as much attention and love as if it was in theaters. We want to make sure that every fan out there is open to magic and wants to be transported on this truly beautiful, magical journey and raise awareness to all of our markets around the world. We’ve shown that we can deliver as big of a scope and scale — and a lot of times a bigger scope and scale on the Prime Video service than we would do if it was theatrical only.”
The marketing partnership with Mercedes-Benz extends beyond the television commercial into exclusive online content as well as a livestream fashion show, “Dressed for a Dream” scheduled for Aug. 28. It will be hosted by Porter, along with actress Jamie Chung. In addition, “Inside Ella’s Closet” will present a behind-the-scenes look at the costumes from the film showcasing Ellen Mirojnick, the film’s costume designer and Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador. Mercedes-Benz also is announcing that both Cabello (who tells THR she owns a GLC300 coupe) and Porter have become brand ambassadors for the company.
“This is a film that we expect to have a really strong, multi-generational, multi-sectional, intersectional impact,” says Ojo. “The team has done a really great job at being very strategic about how we reach different audiences with this 360 campaign and the partnerships like we have with Mercedes are examples of how we’re able to tap into new audiences, so all the lovers of Mercedes are going to, you know, lean in a little bit harder than they would otherwise right because they’re gonna see a brand that they love, or an actor they love like Billy Porter.”
Says GM’s Monique Harrison, head of brand for Mercedes-Benz, “COVID made all of us rethink how things would be launched and I will say we’re pretty happy with the way that this transitioned. It was something that we were looking forward to being in theaters, but it’s because it’s what we knew and it was what was expected at the time. With everything starting to move towards streaming it made perfect sense for us to start to move with it and to launch this film with Sony and now with Amazon Prime, in this streaming format. It’s the first for us but I don’t think it will be the last.”
The film does not feature any Mercedes-Benz vehicles. “I actually liked that,” continues Harrison, “because it gives us an opportunity to showcase various vehicles outside of the film — whether it’s Camila showcasing it from Cinderella’s perspective and the power that that has or Billy having a bit more fun with it and bringing forth this Fab G character in his Maybach. It’s a completely different take on vehicles and how we bring those in. And you’ll continue to see that as we continue the activation. A nice thing you can do is integrate a few cars in the film — which, who are we kidding, we’ll still do in the future — but this approach gives us a more well-rounded view of how to bring it all together.”
Adds Ojo, “That’s the value that we get from partnerships like this is, it gives us an opportunity to expand our audience. The partnership with Mercedes allows us, whether it’s from a TV campaign to a fashion show to this totally slicked Maybach that I wish was mine. It’s being able to tap into these different audiences and communities as a result of the partnership and we’re really excited about that.”
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