Big screen viewBeing in Toronto during the 10 days of the city's Festival of Festivals certainly provides a living, and rather dramatic, example of how far special events have advanced into the mainstream of the marketing mix.If the Festival of Festivals...

Big screen view

Being in Toronto during the 10 days of the city’s Festival of Festivals certainly provides a living, and rather dramatic, example of how far special events have advanced into the mainstream of the marketing mix.

If the Festival of Festivals were to be likened to traditional media, say, television, it might be described this way:

Instead of a television set, the medium is an entire city.

Rather than a half-hour sitcom, the programming is hundreds of movies and the hundreds more people who are hopping from one film to the next before spilling into the Toronto night life.

And instead of a 30-second tv spot, the commercial message in this case is just about anything an advertiser can imagine.

Consider the following:

at&t is sponsoring the 10th anniversary of Perspective Canada, which spotlights Canadian films at the Festival. at&t, in the voice and data communications business, has produced a poster touting its support, complete with a prominent logo.

The communications giant even plugged its video teleconferencing technology at the opening press conference for the Perspective Canada series, which linked the Toronto audiences with directors in Montreal and New York.

Carlsberg Light and Air Canada have teamed up to sponsor the People’s Choice award at the festival. To flag film-goers’ attention to this contest, the brewer is airing humorous promos before each film. And film-goers who mark their ballots for their favorite films qualify to win two airplane tickets to anywhere in Air Canada’s world.

First-time Italian sponsors are behind the Italian Renaissance series at the festival, which spotlights Italian filmmakers. Il Fornello Restaurants and San Daniele-Mastro Foods have joined up with CFMT Television, an ethnic broadcaster in Toronto, to bring young Italian filmmakers to Toronto, home to the largest Italian community outside of Italy and hence a prized target audience.

And Alitalia, Italy’s national airline, and Banca Commerciale Italiana of Canada, are bringing Nanni Moretti, a renowned Italian filmmaker, to Toronto.

Holt Renfrew sponsored a one-off film gala for Bitter Moon, Roman Polanski’s latest release. The fashion house used the opportunity to offer all guests a perfume product, Il Bacio, produced by Princess Marcella Borghese. In return, Holt Renfrew received a complimentary advertisement in the festival catalogue to further plug its perfume.

Media-wise, Toronto broadcaster Citytv and radio station chfi, are working closely with the festival. Both are tagged into much of the festival’s literature. Their message to viewers and listeners: for complete festival coverage, watch Citytv or listen to chfi. Both broadcasters have also aired film fest promos before and during the event.

Elsewhere, the clothing chain The Gap has supplied T-shirts prominently featuring its logo to all volunteers taking tickets at the front doors of cinemas.

And the festival is taking none of this for granted. The event’s organizers have announced the launch of an in-depth study of festival attendees to provide an audience profile that may, in turn, be used to attract more sponsors.

Welcome to the new media age.