Product placement is a common practice to increase a film budget, a form of subliminal advertising used for years in cinema and TV productions.
Try watching any TV series, you will see municipal offices, always struggling with budget cuts, with brand new iMacs, or actors forced to check the time continuously, just to show the brand of their watch. One of the production companies that built an empire using the product placement is Warwick Film, better known for bringing to the big screen the adventures of the world's most famous secret agent, Mr. Bond, James Bond.
Albert Romolo Broccoli, an Italian-American from New York, founded the company in London in the 1950s, when the British government provided subsidies to film productions made in the UK with British casts and crews. He eventually turned the "007" franchise into a real moving luxury products catalog, inserting dozens and dozens of micro spots in the films, placed so well that still today they are an example of how “product placement” has to be made.
In 1985 Sean Connery (the most famous James Bond ever) starred along with Christopher Lambert, (the French actor with a sensual short-sighted gaze) in "Highlander", one of the most innovative and visionary films of the 1980s.
The film must be seen, not only for the compelling story, but also for understand the aesthetics of that period.
As matter of fact the director Russell Mulcahy is also the video clips author of many iconic songs of the 80s, such as "Young Turks" by Rod Stewart, "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart ”by Bonnie Tyler, practically all the hits of Duran Duran and also “ Video Killed the Radio Star ”by the Buggles, the video that sanctioned the victory (which turned out to be ephemeral) of TV over the radio.
Probably for this reason, "Highlander" seems like a long music video, featuring seven songs by Queen in the soundtrack.
But let's go back to the topic of this post, the “product placement”.
One of the most intense scenes in the film is the final fight between the last two highlanders: the good and cool McLoad and the bad and evil Kurgan.
The sword fight takes place in the building where Christopher Lambert (obviously the good-looking Connor McLoad), wearing a gorgeous beige trench coat with padded straps, is following a wrestling match.
While is he enjoying the show, Lambert “feels” the enemy and heads for the underground parking lot. The camera lingers on his steps, and for a few seconds the gigantic screen of the crowded movie theatre where I am watching “Highlander”, is entirely occupied by a pair of Diadora sneakers, the Italian sportswear brand that was booming at the time.
They are beautiful, white, with a gray logo, and I want them.
The next day, I empty the piggy bank and spend my annual budget for sneakers.
I also steal my father's trench coat, certainly not as beautiful as the one in the film, but enough to make me feel like the Christopher Lambert of suburbia, after all I'm short-sighted too.
Those Diadora sneakers, ça va sans dire, are 7 days a week on my feet, I look like one of those cartoons characters, always dressed the same way. Spring arrives and the trench coat disappears, but my beloved Diadora shoes resist.
In the summer, after my high school last year, a family friend invites me to his place in California. He even pays for my plane ticket. The journey is very long, the London - Los Angeles flight alone lasts 11 hours, which I spend sitting with my Diadora on my feet.
I arrive in Los Angeles in the early afternoon, I understand one word out of 10 of what people tell me, all I know is that in the evening I find myself sitting on the beach of Malibu, where this guy lives. Someone passes me a Corona beer with a piece of lime in it, I'm tired, I haven't seen a proper bed in 30 hours, the sound of the ocean surf covers the voices of the crowd around me, and I gaze the horizon trying to understand what I'm doing in that place.
Then I take off my shoes and socks, and I see my feet after more than a day. It may be the tiredness, the beer I drank, but for a moment, before I put them under the sand, I am sure that the feet are smiling at me, grateful for their newfound freedom.
I guess things like these never happened to Christopher Lambert.
It's been decades, and the funny thing is that every time I see a pair of Diadoras, I think of Connor MacLeod, me as a teenager, sitting on the Malibu beach, with my bare feet in the sand, a beer in my hand. and the lost gaze beyond the horizon.
I don't understand why it keeps happening, perhaps, as Christopher Lambert said in the film: “It's a kind of magic”.