A Horse in the Wild West
by Graziella Carbone
2002 – Fourth Trimester – Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron: a story about freedom, friendship and courage
It was Christmas of 2002 and DreamWorks laughed the movie Spirit: Stallion on the Cimarron), directed by Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook. The film was presented out of competition at the 55th Cannes Film Festival and received an Academy Award nomination for best animated film in 2003. The film narrates the story of Spirit, a splendid mustang stallion living in the wild on the endless American frontier and the his relationship with a young Lakota Indian, Little River.
The first promotion with Spirit was I Cartauguri, a series of Christmas-themed decorations and greeting cards inserted, on the occasion of Christmas, in the packs of snacks.
Some special greeting cards were made, such as the infinity cube (it opens and turns on itself), pop-up tickets with cover and flat interior which, with a series of particular folds, became three-dimensional, and a “lamellar” pop up, where – by pulling the tab – the scene changed. To decorate packages and small packets, close packs and mini cards were made with a leaflet that suggested how the labels could be used. Nice decorations, place cards and Spirit-themed cards were also offered on the trays of the snack packs. The Cartauguri promotion was completed with postcards, bookmarks and place cards printed on the packages of Cerealix, Stelline and Letterine.
Spirit-themed promotions continued in 2003.
2003 – First Trimester– The Cinema Card and the adventures of Spirit
The promotion of January 2003 was entirely dedicated to the film Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron, and its protagonists. The film was particularly striking for its grandiose landscapes with particularly intense colours. It would have been really nice to be able to show – and taste – the scenes from the film.
This is how Spirit’s Cinema Cards were born, in-pack gifts made with cutting-edge techniques designed and invented just for this occasion. They were innovative cards made of PET plastic material, in which a miniaturized film reproducing eight scenes from the movie was inserted and fixed. The cards were equipped with a lens – specially made – to be able to see the enlarged scenes. By sliding it along the card you could relive the scenes of the film. The cards were made in 12 variants. On the front was a picture and eight scenes, and on the back a sentence from the film. All were accompanied by a leaflet with an explanation for the use of the magnifying lens. A leaflet was also printed with the communication of the promotion.
2003 – Second Trimester – The Spirit Indian Games
The film Spirit is set around 1860, at a time when the American cavalry was making its way into Utah, decimating the Sioux people and slowly building a railway.
So on one side we have Spirit and on the other the American cavalry.
The world of the American Native People is the third element of the film. In the imagination of adults and children, it is a world of courage, adventure and of bravery in dangerous situations.
I often went with my dad – as a child – to see westerns, then in black and white. We both liked them a lot and I … always rooted for the Native Americans.
Even today I have great passion and admiration for this culture. So, when it came to entering their world to discover the details with which to build the promotions of Spirit with the subject of Native Americans, it felt like a dream to me.
I began to collect materials, but there were few books in Italian libraries dedicated to Native Americans. So I had books sent directly from the United States. I spent a couple of months researching. And as I read, large prairies, rocky landscapes and Indian villages appeared before my eyes.
Then, talking to friends, someone told me that a great-grandson of a Native American chief lived in Munich. I had already planned the usual trip to Germany for the Nuremberg Toy Fair, so I got in touch with this personality. On the phone he spoke perfect English and – while acknowledging that he hadn’t quite understood what I was exactly trying to do – he fixed the appointment for me. I arrived at Munich station around 7 am, and would stop for a few hours and then continue towards Nuremberg.
Walter (this is his name in Germany) picked me up at the station. I recognized him immediately. Tall, with slightly long and graying hair, a proud look, folded arms and legs slightly apart. What an emotion! He looked like a real Native American chief.
He was very kind and took me to his house where – he said – he kept a lot of Native American material. He lived on the outskirts of Munich, in a completely anonymous house from the outside.
During the drive, I told him about Spirit and the idea of making little books with news and games for the May promotion and small items – also with a Native American theme – as a gift for the September promotion for Mulino Bianco. To make it more immediate, I had also brought him some packs of snacks, which he liked very much and which he tasted immediately.
As I entered his house I was stunned. I felt like I had entered a tepee, the typical tent, fully furnished in every detail. There were bison skins, arches, shields and the circle of stones for the bonfire. In short, a true and perfect reconstruction of the tepee and all with original pieces.
My host gave me a pair of moccasins – leather, completely flat – decorated with designs and decorations that looked a lot like our beads.
Then he took me to another part of the house where he kept some mementos of the tribe. Among these there were also many “toys”. He told me about their history. The games of the little ones traced the activities of the adults and were reproduced in the smallest details.
We spent several hours together. To tell the truth, he spoke and I listened. Every now and then he helped himself – to explain me better – with the language of gestures (there is a Native American alphabet of “signs”). He said that we Italians are masters in their use.
He also had an incredible library of books. He allowed me to browse them. I really did not want to leave… but the last train to Nuremberg was leaving around midnight. So, like Cinderella, I left my friend’s enchanted world. Before leaving he gave me a small book:
Native American Games and Crafts, published in the United States in 1957. It is dedicated by the author to his mother, who taught him to use his hands. Some of the games that were made for the Mulino Bianco promotions were taken from this very precious book.
The May promotion had to be a bit special, full of “surprises” for the summer and, above all, a lot of fun.
So we thought of a “surprise envelope” (this proposal won over others in a test done with children) that contained – in turn – other surprises.
A “layered” booklet with the patented name “mini-bulk” was developed with a paper converting supplier specialized in this kind of projects and their production. It appeared as a “sealed” booklet, to be opened. It was ideal for discovering each time the surprise inside. The first pages were dedicated to Native American history, curiosities, entertainment and games while inside, randomly, you could find:
Face makeup colours or, in alternative, Tattoos for the body (21 different subjects); Nail tattoos (4 different subjects); Tattoos for clothes (10 different subjects); Fabric labels (15 different subjects). Clothes tattoos were “invented” specifically for this promotion as they had never appeared on the Italian market before.
The face colours (water-based), in seven variations, were printed on the last card of the booklet and could be used to make up “like a true Native American”. For the editing of this “game” I consulted a lot of original material, but most of it was the fruit of my imagination.
The products involved were Flutes, Saccottino, Crostatina, Trancino, Tegolino, Plumcake, Cerealix and Cioccogioco.
For the first time, a special “double pack” operation was taken into consideration. And so Spirit appeared on a water bottle (in two colour variants: green and blue) and on a futuristic object … a watch that, in addition to functioning as a watch, “shot water”! Maybe it wasn’t very much in line with the Native American world, but summer vacation was approaching and it was just an ideal object to take to the beach to play with friends. I still remember (but I say it whispering) the test trials – at the company – shooting water between one desk and another …
2003 – Third Trimester – The Create a Totem of Spirit
The adventures of Spirit the Wild Horse continued to thrill audiences. After the success of the Native American Games campaign, there came the Create a Totem for the back to school campaign.
The promotion was the updated and “adapted to the Native American spirit” version of the Book Mania boxes, which in turn – in a more modern version – were linked to the much loved matchboxes of the Surprise toys.
We thus designed a series of vertical boxes that opened from the bottom on the short side and which had the particularity of being able to be joined together, thus creating a virtually endless totem. One of the boxes, instead of the surprise, contained the parts to build the wings, the head and the foot of the totem and the box became the final part of the totem.
The whole – in each package – was completed by a very colourful adhesive label, inspired by the designs of real totems, made in eight variants.
Inside the boxes were placed 18 different objects that were part of the school world: markers, stencils, scissors, hole-punchers, adhesive tape, beautiful and special pencil sharpeners, magnetic and non-magnetic notebooks, colors, lenses and stamps, magnets, white out tape and paper clips. All were customized and produced in different versions with the reproduction of the most spectacular images of the film.
The making of the maps of Spirit is a chapter of itself. The story of Spirit and its world lent itself well to being complemented by maps of the Parks of the Land of Spirit.
Each map referred to a particular setting of a part of the film and was dedicated to the main American parks: Monument Valley, Yellowstone, Bryce Canyon and Yosemite.
Within the various maps I also inserted an image that immediately reconnected to the story.The search for the material was extremely accurate: we didn’t want to resort archive images (they were too “cold”), but we wanted images taken by people who had visited – in real life – these places. I was very lucky: dear friends provided the various materials and the result was excellent. In addition, each map told the story of the Indian tribe in the area. Funny details and intriguing questions completed each plank.
The technique for making the various maps was that used for the Book Mania maps, that is, we worked with the same company that produced those maps and was specialized in folding the instruction leaflets that accompanied the medicines into small format.
The Create a Totem maps were included in every package of Flutes, Trancino, Tegolino, Crostatina, Saccottino, Cerealix and Cioccogioco. The huge promotion was also linked to a competition that offered 10,000 videotapes of the Spirit film for the lucky ones who found the map of Glacier Park.
As an object for an in-store operation, a very fashionable pair of non-slip socks with rubber dots to wear at home was chosen.
2003 -The traditional games: Pinocchio
In 2003, thanks to the success of the Rigoli commercial (which had won a Key Award) of the series “fairy tales” created by the Armando Testa agency, and which had the character of Pinocchio as its protagonist, a miniature puppet was offered with a special package of cookies.
Made of plastic that looked like hard wood, it was fully articulated and could take any position. Twenty-five centimeters tall (but in the Barilla Historical Archive there is the original one – more than a meter tall – used for television shooting and I can’t tell you how incredibly beautiful it is), he wore a pair of shorts and a red cotton sweater, just like in the advertising of the time.