Thursday, February 29

Stanley Tucci’s puntastic San Pellegrino deal heralds a fizzy future for celebrity endorsements | movies

TOny movie star can put their face to a product. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do; you have a recognizable face, and people want to give you money for putting that face next to something they’re trying to sell. However, very few celebrities are good at endorsing products that fit with their own personal brand.

Do you think that Kevin Bacon is really interested in mobile data coverage? Of course not. And nobody would assume that George Clooney – handsome billionaire actor George Clooney – spends his whole day making coffee from little plastic pods. So when true synergy reveals itself, when a celebrity finally uncovers that one brand that fits so neatly with their persona that the two become indistinguishable, we have to applaud.

Handsome billionaire actor George Clooney poses with Nespresso coffee.
Caffeine hit … George Clooney nurses a Nespresso. Photograph: Nespresso

I’m telling you this because Stanley Tucci has just announced a “multi-year collaboration” with San Pellegrino. Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that the most perfect thing you’ve ever heard? Tucci, the actor, producer and impeccably dressed cookery and cocktails lockdown heart-throb, is now for ever joined at the hip with a company selling expensive water.

The two meshes so well, don’t they? Try to imagine Tucci in a restaurant asking for a jug of tap water. You can’t, can you? Even if you close your eyes and strain as hard as you can, you cannot summon the mental image of pristine man about town Stanley Tucci asking a waiter to give him something for free. No, Tucci wants to pay for his water from him. He wants to pay over the odds for his water from him. He wants to pay over the odds for a water that isn’t as nice as flat water, but carries slightly more prestige. This is who Stanley Tucci is, and everybody knows it.

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Sure, the collaboration will involve a television advertising campaign, probably where Tucci wanders around an idyllic spot in northern Italy, being charming in a well-fitting polo shirt and occasionally running his hands through a pile of lemons as he closes his eyes in ecstasy. That goes without saying. But what pushes this into extra special territory is this: San sounds a bit like Stan. And Stan is the first half of Stanley. You’re there already, aren’t you? That’s right, S.Pellegrino has temporarily rebranded as Stan Pellegrino, and there is apparently a competition to win a branded Stan Pellegrino bottle that has been engraved with Tucci’s signature on him. True, it won’t be for everyone. But people who like water, Stanley Tucci, puns and being wildly optimistic about the resale value of empty bottles that come with an incomprehensible scrawl scratched on them would do well to enter.

Just add water… Tucci in Rome.
Just add water… Tucci in Rome. Photograph: Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images

But in the longer term, this is the sort of brand partnership to which celebrities should aspire. It isn’t enough to just plonk your face on an advert. Nor, sadly, is it enough to partner with the sort of brand that the public assumes you use. No. Now there needs to be a pun in it, too. We’re talking Meryl Streep advertising an expensive knitwear company and temporarily changing her name from ella to Meryl Sheep. We’re talking Ryan Gosling endorsing a luxury lightweight hammock brand and appearing in adverts as Ryan Gauze Sling. We’re talking Emma Stone becoming the public face of stones and keeping her name exactly as it is. This is how things should only be from now on. Congratulations Stanley Tucci, you are a true pioneer.

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