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It’s a Branded New World: The Influence of State Policy upon Contemporary Italian Film Narrative

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Abstract

This chapter explores the influence of Italy’s recently introduced law on tax credit and product placement upon national film production. This law, passed in 2010, but enforced in 2011, encourages non-media companies to invest in Italian film production using the twofold incentives of tax credit and product placement. In Italy product placement, which consists of ‘incorporating brands in movies in return for money or for some promotional or other consideration’, has been legal since 2004.1 However, this chapter argues that the association of product placement with tax credit, which has no equivalent in other EU states to date, increases the financial involvement of private companies in film production in a way that enhances commercial influence upon the narrative and aesthetic features of the films. The chapter verifies this hypothesis through the analysis of a case study, the 2012 comedy The Commander and the Stork (Il Comandante e la Cicogna — hereafter The Commander), directed by Italian film-maker Silvio Soldini. In accordance with the new law, Lumière & Co., the Milan-based production company that made the movie, signed a partnership with Italian company ILLVA Saronno, allowing the famous Disaronno liqueur brand to star in one of the film’s scenes and the company to benefit from tax credit on its investment.2 This film is a particularly interesting case study not only because it is one of the very first (and, as will be discussed, still very few) implementations of the law, but also because of its production and artistic profile.

Keywords

Joint Venture Product Placement Cultural Relevance Interesting Case Study Direct Fund 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Pola B. Gupta and Stephen J. Gould, ‘Consumers’ Perception of the Ethics and Acceptability of Product Placement in Movies: Product Category and Individual Differences’, Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising 19, no. 1 (1997), 37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  25. Roberto Nelli and Paola Bensi, Il Product placement Nelle Strategie Di Convergenza Della Marca Nel Settore Dell’intrattenimento (Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 2007); Roberto Nelli, ed., Product placement Made in Italy.Google Scholar
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    Jonathan Hardy, Cross-Media Promotion (New York: Peter Lang, 2010), 240.Google Scholar
  33. 29.
    Because tax credits are offered to external companies on the basis of actual film production investment, the law furthermore ensures that the state complies with rules prohibiting it from offering fiscal advantages to the private sector in return for mere product placement payments to film producers. See Report by Ufficio Studi ANICA ed., I quaderni dell’ANICA — N.1 Product Placement (Roma, 2008), 71.Google Scholar
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    Nicola Borrelli, ‘Annual Press Release’, 16 April 2013; Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo Rapporto 2012 Il Mercato e l’Industria del Cinema in Italia., 72, www.cineconomy.com/2012/pdf/Rapporto_Cinema_2012.pdf.Google Scholar
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  37. 39.
    ‘Below-the-line’ marketing initiatives target consumers in a personal way (public relations, special events, direct marketing and so forth), whereas ‘above-the-line’ refers to mass communications, such as television advertisements. See Patrick De Pelsmacker, Maggie Geuens and Joeri Van den Bergh, Marketing Communications: A European Perspective Third edition (London: Pearson, 2007), 193.Google Scholar
  38. 41.
    Personal interview with Nadia Boriotti. Extra-textual communication activities enhance product placement’s effectiveness; see J.A. Karrh, K.B. McKee and C.J. Pardun, ‘Practitioners’ evolving views on Product Placement Effectiveness’, Journal of Advertising Research 43, no. 2 (2003), 141.Google Scholar
  39. 43.
    For a critical discussion on the commodification of culture see David Hesmondhalgh, The Cultural Industries Second edition (London: SAGE, 2007).Google Scholar
  40. Films such as Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso (1988),Google Scholar
  41. Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful (1997)Google Scholar
  42. and Matteo Garrone’s Gomorra (2009) are unsuitable for product placement and yet have all received both critics’ awards and global commercial success. In contrast, Italy’s latest box-office hits, for example, Che bella giornata (What a lovely day, 2011), Benvenuti al Sud (Welcome to the South, 2010) and Benvenuti al Nord (Welcome to the North, 2012) all featured prominent placements; despite enormous commercial success in the domestic market the films did not achieve any significant international distribution; see ANICA, Quaderno n. 5 L’export di cinema italiano, 2010.Google Scholar

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© Gloria Dagnino 2015

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