CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/CLUB 18-30 - THE MOVIE - Saatchis turns film maker with Club 18-30 comedy. The sexy holiday firm gets the big screen treatment. Claire Cozens investigates

As a former Club 18-30 rep Andy Tidy, now general manager for the holiday operator, is not easily shocked. But when Saatchi & Saatchi called him into the agency to present its latest idea for the brand, even he was taken aback.

As a former Club 18-30 rep Andy Tidy, now general manager for the

holiday operator, is not easily shocked. But when Saatchi & Saatchi

called him into the agency to present its latest idea for the brand,

even he was taken aback.



It was several months ago now that James Griffiths, the management

supervisor on the Club 18-30 account, sat Tidy down in front of what is

known in the trade as a ’mood video’ - a short film made up of clips

that set the mood for a film - as he explained that Saatchis wanted Club

18-30 to star in a feature film. As the images of teens and

twentysomethings frolicking in the sea rolled over the screen, Tidy was

sold on it.



’My first reaction was, ’why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?’’

Tidy says. ’We’ve always liked to take the brand to an extreme. Our

brief to Saatchis is ’go too far - we can always bring it back

later’.’



Not this time, though. Saatchis is keen to stress that the client will

have no editorial control over the film. Apart from a small development

loan to the producer, Club 18-30 is not providing any of the

funding.



It gets the publicity for free and its only condition for allowing the

film’s makers to use its name is that the film will not denigrate the

brand - although, when it comes to Club 18-30, this is more likely to

mean editing out anything too tame than concerns about staff members’ or

holidaymakers’ misbehaviour.



’Our role is to advise - we haven’t got any control over the script and

we wouldn’t want to have,’ Tidy says. ’The integrity of the film has to

be maintained. It is a bit scary but I’ve met the producer and I’m

working with a set of people I know and trust.’



Club 18-30 - The Movie will be a fictional comedy set on Ibiza with a

budget of between dollars 4 million and dollars 6 million. It has not

yet been cast but is unlikely to be a star-studded production - its

makers are modelling it on irreverent youth movies such as American Pie

and Something About Mary.



Stephen Colegrave, Saatchis’ European new-business director and a film

producer in his own right, has provided much of the impetus behind the

project. But he is keen to stress this does not mean Saatchis is going

into film production in the way that St Luke’s has done.



Instead, it is part of Saatchis’ plan to be an ideas agency.



’As an agency we believe content provision is the way of the future and

we want to be involved in that,’ he says. ’Our role is to act as

consultants and enablers. We can come up with the idea, put the client

in touch with the right people and provide the reassurance that they can

pull it off.’



The agency has not formally set up a division to house these new

activities; instead they will be carried out informally through its

network of account directors with Griffiths overseeing the film project

alongside Colegrave.



The idea for the film began when Saatchis hired the director/producer

Bob Mahoney as a consultant - one of a number of measures designed to

extend its services beyond traditional advertising. To start with the

plan was for Club 18-30 to get involved in a product placement deal -

whereby advertisers pay to have their products featured in films.



But it soon became clear that any movie made on Ibiza would be dominated

by the Club 18-30 brand simply because the company is so prominent on

the island. According to Mahoney, the logical next step was to make a

movie.



The project is being overseen by Mahoney, whose screen credits include

the Lynda La Plante TV series The Governor and six episodes of the

popular drama series Heartbeat, including the pilot episode. He was also

involved in the making of the 1992 election campaign for the

Conservative Party through Saatchis and between 1976 and 1987 ran the

commercials production house Bob Mahoney & Associates.



Mahoney has hired the scriptwriters Paul de Villers and Staffan Tollgard

to write the screenplay for the movie, which is scheduled to start

shooting in Ibiza this summer for release in the UK early next year. The

dollars 4 to dollars 6 million budget is pretty typical for a UK film

and Mahoney is in talks with film financiers in the US to secure the

funding.



The real test was what the Americans - who had never heard of Club 18-30

- thought of the idea. ’I took the mood reel over to Los Angeles to show

some of my contacts and they loved it,’ Mahoney says. ’The funny thing

was, they all thought it was fiction - none of them believed this really

exists.’



Saatchis hopes the project will be the first of many forays into

advertiser-related (although not necessarily advertiser-funded) content

provision.



Club 18-30 was, the agency says, the perfect client to begin with as it

has a history of taking risks. It already spends a large proportion of

its advertising budget on cinema ads, which it believes can reach its

target audience most effectively.



But there are other projects in the pipeline: another Saatchi client,

the European Space Agency, already has an in-house programming

department which Saatchis is hoping to link up with specialist

broadcasters such as The Discovery Channel.



The film project seems unlikely to be replicated with any of Saatchis’

other clients - it’s hard to see the likes of Hewlett-Packard and Lloyds

TSB providing such juicy storylines. But making a concerted effort to

add value by providing ideas that go well beyond traditional advertising

can only be good for both Saatchis and its clients.



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