Filmmaker-brand tie-ups: 'Anything goes' if they're done well, says Adam Carolla

Any kind of collaboration between filmmakers and brands can work in today's "new world", as long as projects are executed properly, the author, comedian and TV host Adam Carolla has told a panel at the Cannes Lions.

Carolla, who yesterday hosted the screening of a film about the late actor and racing driver Paul Newman, which featured branding for used car sales website TrueCar, described the relationship between brands and filmmakers as "unchartered waters".

"Everything we do from this day forth is going to be different from what they did before," he told the session, hosted by Ketchum Sport & Entertainment. "We just did a documentary that was sponsored by TrueCar and nobody said a word. I don’t know if people would have accepted documentaries that have corporate sponsorship a few years ago.

"We’re living in a whole new world. I don’t think anyone could come on this stage and say anything’s not going to work, if it’s executed correctly."

However, Nate Adams, a producer and screenwriter who worked with Carolla on the film, told the session at Cannes that problems came if they "try to make a commercial for people".

"Nobody wants to watch a commercial. To me it’s much better to tie the brand to a great piece of content that people will enjoy, and the brand will enjoy, and that the brand can then take out and say, 'this is something we’ve committed to and we made this happen'."

Carolla conceded that brands "have to give up a little real estate" when they work with filmmakers, but said it was worth that sacrifice. He pointed to the fact the Paul Newman film was chosen for screening on American Airlines flights.

"If you’re TrueCar, you get to be seen on an airplane. If we make a stinker then we don’t get to be seen on an airplane. We could have mentioned True Car 100 more times but if it’s not seen by anybody then it’s worthless.

"I think everybody has the same goal, which is to make a product that’s so good it can get x amount of eyeballs."

Marcus Peterzell, Ketchum Sport & Entertainment executive VP, entertainment, said the agency’s role often involved acting as a mediator between client brands and filmmakers.

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