LOS ANGELES When the Davie Brown Entertainment agency launched 23 years ago, remembers Tom Meyer, president, a deal with longtime client Pepsi could be as simple as getting a brand label seen on a popular television show or in a movie.
If the brand could become part of a key scene -- for example, the Davie Brown-arranged transmogrifying Pepsi can in the 1986 movie The Golden Child -- so much the better. The next level was full-scale tie-ins, such as for Pepsi and George Lucas's enterprises for Star Wars: Phantom Menace in 1999.
Fast-forward to 2008 and Pepsi brand Sierra Mist's involvement in Warner Bros.' Get Smart, which opens nationwide today.
Meyer said Pepsi came to the agency with a simple brief on a new flavor -- Sierra Mist lemon/lime infused with mandarin orange -- and left it to the shop to come up with the right approach.
"Because the Sierra Mist would be clear, not orange, we came up with this idea that the flavor had gone undercover," Meyer said. "We naturally matched that to Get Smart."
The agency then worked on "more closely aligning the brand with the movie," searching the film itself for a scene that had the right tone to lend itself to a commercial.
In the spot, which the shop itself did not produce, Agent 23, played by Dwayne Johnson, runs into a wall when he is distracted by attractive (apparently female) security guards, who turn out to be men deeply undercover. The guards are seen sipping Sierra Mist.
The agency secured the intellectual property and image and likeness rights and talent on a barter arrangement with Warner, and consulted on the package design and point-of-sale materials with other Pepsi shops. The Sierra Mist cans feature star Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart, shrouded in an orange shadow.
"One of the big misunderstandings these days is that brands have to be attached to the biggest movie of the summer," said Meyer, who regards the promotion, which will end with the movie's theatrical life, as fruitful. "This hits the sweet spot. Studios can't buy the exposure that brands can bring. They can't buy the aisle of a grocery store, in this case, a million touch points of Sierra Mist."