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Spokesperson . . . : From Outer Space

June 12, 1988|Ellen Farley

As with any project involving Steven Spielberg and his Ambling Ent., there's extreme secrecy regarding exactly what happens in the Pepsi commercial that begins shooting in L.A. later this month featuring the famous visitor from outer space, E.T. But we have gleaned a few tidbits.

* According to Ambling spokesman Marvin Levy, E.T. will speak in the ads.

* The spots will promote "E.T." videocassettes, which MCA Home Video puts on sale Oct. 27. As the commercial sponsor of that campaign, Pepsi will offer a $5 rebate off the $24.95 price to buyers with a proof of purchase of two six-packs or three two-liter bottles of Pepsi product.

* The Pepsi/MCA sales campaign theme: "E.T. is coming home." The concept was created by Pepsi and its BBDO ad agency, according to Pepsi marketing manager Tod MacKenzie, but Spielberg is billed as the creative consultant.

* Casting director Loree Booth of TLC Productions is looking for a boy, aged 9-12, to play opposite E.T. But he need not necessarily look like Henry Thomas, who played E.T.'s pal Elliot in the movie.

Irony: Just recently, an MCA official noted to us that when Universal Studios opens its Florida tour next year with its E.T. attraction, the lovable alien himself will not be a "park-stroller" like Disney characters such as Mickey and Minnie--because E.T. is "too special."

Then why, we wondered, does the Spielbergian character need the soft drink hype?

"The object is to make this (video) something that everyone could afford to buy and the Pepsi promotion is helping to make that possible," said Levy, who claims the paid, 30-second TV spots "aren't actually commercials because E.T. is not selling a product."

However, director Joe Pytka--who helmed Michael Jackson's Pepsi commercials--dubbed the E.T./Pepsi spot ". . . just another in the line of all the celebrity commercials."

"The thing I'm shooting will be beautiful, just sort of stuff from the movie, different scenes that are echoes from the movie," Pytka added. "There are references to the film and that E.T. is on his way back."

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