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Wednesday 11 August 2010

Al Pacino and Vittoria Coffee - scent of a... latte

Following on from the previous blog post on the Al Pacino and Vittoria partnership, here is the story by writer Sharon Krum in full, first published in The Australian on July 2, 2010.

Entitled "An offer he didn't refuse", it is one of the most comprehensive pieces I have read about how this incredible deal was struck:

The day before Rolando Schirato met Al Pacino, he was looking for the right word to describe how he anticipated the experience. He threw out "excited" and "nervous" but finally settled on "surreal".

Schirato is the 27-year-old sales and marketing manager for Vittoria coffee, one of the largest pure coffee companies in Australia. “I was a massive fan of Al Pacino when I was growing up,” he says. “In my old bedroom at home, there are still a lot of posters of him and I have all his movies. This was something you dreamed of doing one day but now we’re shooting it, meeting him, it’s a bit surreal.”

By shooting it, Schirato means a TV and print campaign for Vittoria coffee, with – wait for it – Pacino as its face. It’s the first advertising campaign the Oscar- winning actor has done and landing the star of The Godfather, Scarface and Scent of a Woman is a huge coup. How did this Australian family company pull off what American multinationals couldn’t?

They asked. They were turned down. They asked again. Then, as any lawyer will tell you, it’s about making a great case. “Rolando suggested the 50th anniversary – Vittoria began roasting coffee in 1958 – would be a good time to do an upmarket commercial, something really special,” says Vittoria chief executive – and father – Les Schirato, often referred to as Australia’s coffee king.

“We wanted to do something really big as a celebration. I thought, I wonder if we could get Pacino?” adds Rolando. The company has always highlighted its Italian roots in its advertising, and Pacino reads about as Italian as you can get when it comes to major stars. “I knew he never did advertising and, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting [him to say yes]. We contacted his agent and straightaway they said, thank you, but no thank you.

“Six months passed and we thought, let’s give it one more go.” This time Pacino’s agent asked them to put together a package about the company and the coffee. In it, says Rolando, “we pointed out there are lot of good ties between our company and Al, both being Italian migrant families, making a success story in the new country. To our amazement, he said yes, let’s talk further.”

The next step was to send Pacino their coffee. It turns out the actor is as demanding of a good brew as he is about his acting. “We got a response really quickly, saying he loved it and wanted to talk about some concepts. That caught me completely by surprise,” admits Rolando.

To read the rest of the fabulous piece, click here.

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