Press conferences at the Toronto International Film Festival are fairly nihilistic affairs. The panel of celebrities are in town to supply one-on-one interviews to any media that matters for selling a movie — so, what the bottom-feeding press usually gets is a photo opportunity, plus a few non sequiturs.
The process of taking questions from the floor was ripe for its own kind of product placement, then. And the forum has begun to be seized by sponsors who have sent their own indefatigable brand-boosters, to exploit TIFF as an entrée for social media messaging.
A correspondent from L'Oréal Paris, who raised her hand at the cynical trio of Sarah Polley, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman at the Sunday press conference for Take This Waltz, even prefaced the question by referencing the corporate advertising slogan.
"Because We're Worth It" is not only a phrase designed to reassure purchasers of beauty products — over time, it was changed from "I'm" to "you're" to "were" based on motivation analysis and studies into consumer psychology — but it's also the ideal overture for a red carpet reporter seeking a little bit of celebrity validation. The suburban cosmetics counter may not be as far away from Hollywood, after all.
L'Oréal Paris is one of the 18 new aspirational sponsors of TIFF this year — along with fake Scandinavian ice cream Häagen-Dazs and the golden arches reinvention the McCafé — in addition to the 50 returning ones. And, with that, comes a reduction in the need for intermediaries from mass media outlets.
There isn't much need for a newspaper, let alone a wannabe TMZ, when you can now get a "take" on TIFF according to Cadillac, Grey Goose Vodka or Vitamin Water. Besides, the sponsors have the clout to get the highest-quality content.
And, with more regular folks becoming aware of the film festival comes the opportunity for downmarket sponsors, too.
Diet Coke has used its TIFF tie-in to promote a "gala" for contest winners on Monday night — with no need for movie stars.
After all, the sponsor is seeking your attention, not theirs.