The Sanremo Festival is over and it's time to take stock. The event is the Italian Super Bowl, and in recent years it has achieved a peak in syndication and advertising revenues unimaginable for any other television program. It was during the second evening that Travolta's gate exploded sport shoes U-Power, glued to the screen, had 10,361,000 viewers. One of the most important media events took place on Wednesday 7 February (the second evening), with the main event represented by an international guest performance, in this case John Travolta. The facts are known to everyone: John Travolta appears on the Sanremo stage with a confused look, dances with Amadeus without much enthusiasm, and is a bored participant in the show. Kwa Kwa dance With Fiorello and Amadeus refusing to wear the duck-shaped hat given to them by the host. All this with a pair of shoes on your feet sport shoes Very clear white Brand U-Power, who the artist is certificate, shoes that are frequently framed (logo included). Among other things, Travolta's performance is A diverse Among the dances that the artist performed in his most famous films (From Survival Grease in the famous dance with Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction), so the opportunities to frame the artist's shoes are numerous.
Unfair Performance and Codacons Complaint
Beyond the artistic content of the performance, about which much has been said, what sparked much discussion: the insistence with which the Rai director kept the shoes and their logo; In fact, the only phrase Amadeus uttered in English during Travolta's performance was “Don't worry, be happy,” which appears as follows: pay off In the shoe logo; The fact that despite usually demanding a millionaire's fee, Travolta would have agreed to perform in Sanremo for reimbursement of expenses only, and also because he had already planned to film a television commercial with Diletta Leotta for U-Power, a commercial that was taped in Ventimiglia the next day For performance. It is therefore no coincidence that, the day after the exhibition, Codacons announced a complaint to Agcom regarding a new issue regarding alleged hidden advertising. Among other things, this event occurred the day after the publication of the ruling of the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio that confirmed the fine imposed on Rai for hidden advertising on Instagram made by Amadeus and Chiara Ferragni during last year's festival.
It is also for this reason that the unusually nervous Amadeus, despite the encouraging results in terms of participation and public appreciation for his fifth (and last) festival, categorically denied the existence of commercial agreements with the artist or with U-Power to advertise the product. Ray expressed his reservations about taking legal measures against the artist, reminding, through the director of Prime Time Entertainment, Marcelo Ciannamea, that the stipulated contract with Travolta included the obligation “not to include him in the broadcast and not to introduce elements on the stage that have advertisements, directly or indirectly.” and/or promotional value, including in connection with apparel and accessories used, unless prior written authorization is obtained from Rai.”
A new case of hidden ads
However, regardless of the contractual dynamics between the actor, the brand and Ray, which will be clarified in the proceedings that will follow the Codacons complaints, some considerations can already be made that lead to the conclusion that, apart from the potential “harm” from the various parties involved, this is a new case From the hidden ads at the Sanremo Festival. On the one hand, there is a very famous Hollywood actor, a testament to a shoe brand with whom there is undoubtedly a contract Care, who went on stage at one of the major Italian television events to pay expenses. And again, there is a brand Which, after Travolta's appointment as testimonial, she expected to promote the shoes in Sanremo on her website, and then to her suppliers and retailers, which she shared again after the performance social network Stories that attest to “appearance.” More: The president of U-Power, present (and framed) at the presentation evening, acknowledges the positive effects on product sales of John Travolta's performance in Sanremo. On the other hand, there is a television broadcaster – in its operational aspects: including technical direction and advertising agency – equipped with organized professional skills in the audiovisual and advertising sector, which cannot ignore the promotional effects of broadcasting, even if they are incidental. , of branded items, which in fact immediately distanced itself from the incident.
What the Sanremo regulations say
Moreover, art. Article 48 of Legislative Decree 208/2021 allows the inclusion of products in television programs, but on the condition that viewers are clearly informed of their inclusion through a specific designation at the beginning and end of the broadcast and when the program resumes after the interruption of advertising, to avoid any possible confusion on the part of the viewer. The same Sanremo regulations, specifically to avoid possible sanctions to this effect, stipulate that not only the artists but “in general, all participants, in any capacity, of Sanremo 2024 (including, but not limited to, orchestral directors), musicians and guest artists etc.), during their performances, they will not be able to […] Saying sentences, making gestures, using objects or wearing clothing that contain advertising or promotional references, even indirectly.” For this same reason, a few years ago, Achille Lauro had to censor the reference to Michael Kors in the song. Rolls-Royce.
In light of Italian advertising legislation, which states that advertising must always be recognizable as such, the competent authority would likely conclude that in this case the U-Power trademark was advertised without any kind of information to viewers. It is therefore possible that U-Power, which reshared photos of Travolta at the Ariston Theater on its social pages, thus appropriating what the artist did during his performance in Sanremo, will be punished, as Peugeot did a few years ago. Approved by the IAP (Institute for Self-Discipline of Advertising) in the case of hidden advertising whose protagonist was the Fedez certification Invited by the French car manufacturer to Roland Garros, and “accidentally” found the opportunity to visit the Peugeot branch near Roland Garros, and participated in the road test of the 208 on Its social networks, with content clearly shared by the brand. All this again without informing their followers of the advertising nature of the communication.
The role of opinion
However, Ray's involvement is uncertain, as are the existence of a contract with John Travolta, the agreed-upon compensation (or lack thereof), and the freedoms that may have been granted to the artist (such as the freedom to go on stage with John Travolta). sport shoes brand) and expected compensation. Certainly some of the rai music choices that contributed to objectively amplifying the advertising impact of Travolta's performance will have to be evaluated, from the performance's reliance on dance, which necessarily focused the viewer's attention on the shoes, to Amadeus's quotation of the slogan “don't worry be happy“that characterize the producer during performance, facts that can hide agreements for “indirect” advertising of the product in exchange for the artist waiving his fees.
“The Case” of Teresa Mannino
However, what happened in the Travolta case raises the issue again Evergreen The very thin line between freedom of artistic expression and commercial communication. Evidence of the difficulty of defining these boundaries with certainty is what happened in Sanremo the day after Travolta performed with Teresa Mannino. In fact, the Palermo artist, who co-hosted the third evening, focused a large part of her performance on her feather dress, and on the designer (Roberto Cavalli for Fausto Puglisi) who created it, praising its qualities and citing – by comparing himself with them – many of them. celebrities Who is dressed? It is true that the name of the designer was not mentioned directly, but this is a fact that can now be easily found through a Google search. In this case, perhaps the difference with the Travolta-U-Power case is the absence of a client relationship between brand and artist, and the fact that Mannino's performance can plausibly be said to be the result of a true freedom from concern. And also because, otherwise, the risk would be to start a witch hunt with uncertain results.
Cover photo: ANSA/Riccardo Antimiani | Fiorello, John Travolta and Amadeus outside the Ariston Theater during the Sanremo Festival (February 7, 2024)
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