Media Lifeline: Cinema ads, Friday, 28 July 2006 12:00AM

The chance to be associated with the big screen is up for grabs again.

1952: Gordon's Gin begins its love affair with the cinema medium by tying up a product placement deal on John Huston's film The African Queen, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. Gordon's goes on to produce some of the most consistently sumptuous cinema ads of the 60s and 70s - and then reinvents itself for a new generation in the 80s.

1973: As the health lobby homes in on a cigarette advertising ban, CDP ensures that cinema remains the last bastion of the politically incorrect (in more ways than one) with an Alan Parker-directed spoof of the film Zulu for Silk Cut. This still features heavily in polls of the all-time funniest ads.

1985: Bartle Bogle Hegarty's Levi's "launderette" film, starring Nick Kamen, underlines the power of the big screen and also the contribution music can make, as its soundtrack - I Heard It Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye - becomes a hit again.

2001: Cinema's value as a relatively uncensored medium is reaffirmed when a film for Agent Provocateur, featuring Kylie Minogue astride a mechanical bull, hits our screens. Banned from TV, it reignites the debate about gratuitous titillation in advertising.

2006: The medium looks for a new partner to buy into its "gold spot" package - which not only offers an advertiser a 60-second spot before every non-family film in the UK, but also includes a package of non-screen marketing opportunities, including branding rights in cinema foyers. The package, worth up to £18 million a year and held since 2000 by Orange, illustrates cinema's evolution into a through-the-line medium.

Fast forward ...

2008: Cinema, which has been embracing "e-cinema" digital distribution techniques, flirts with real-time direct response techniques via mobiles as Levi's uses the medium to launch an interactive talent contest to discover the new Nick Kamen. It dovetails with a series of Levi's product-placement deals across all of the summer's big blockbusters.

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