With “The Legend of Red Hand,” Italian aperitif brand Campari continues a tradition of short-film activations starring high-profile stars.
“Red Hand,” directed by Stefano Sollima (Gomorrah), tells the story of a photographer Mia Perc—played by Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy)—who is determined to reveal the true identity of renowned bartender known only as Red Hand, so named for the red gloves he wears while preparing Campari cocktails.
Saldana’s character believes she has finally captured his image before escaping with the help of bar employee Davide (Adriano Giannini). Inspired by new revelations, she follows clues across Milan, New York, Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, Berlin and London.
The release is the second in a series called “Red Diaries,” based on the idea that “every cocktail tells a story.” Last year, the company released its first short called “Killer in Red” about a bartender, played by Clive Owen, who can create cocktails predicting the future.
Both films prominently feature the color red to symbolize Campari’s trademark hue and celebrates the talent of bartenders. “The Legend of Red Hand” features six real-life bartenders from around the world who have created their own Campari cocktails—with recipes posted on Campari’s website.
Campari unveiled the film at a red carpet premiere Tuesday in its home city of Milan, with the director and cast on hand to answer audience questions. The video has been posted on Campari’s official YouTube page and garnered 50,000 views within its first 12 hours. The campaign has also gained traction on social channels, thanks to Saldana’s personal posts.
Prior to the Red Diaries campaign, Campari enlisted the help of celebrities Penelope Cruz, Uma Thurman and Kate Hudson to create themed calendars for years 2013-2016. The brand says the short film series is “an evolution” of that calendar campaign.
Spirits and film marketing have proven to be fruitful partners for decades—think Stoli in Atomic Blonde and Johnnie Walker in Blade Runner 2049—although Campari stands apart by creating its own content.
Other brands are inviting guests to write and direct original short films on their behalf. It has become a tradition for fashion house Kenzo to partner with entertainment industry professionals to craft independent films. Kenzo’s Fall/Winter collection was ushered in during New York Fashion week with a film called “Cabiria, Charity, Chastity” starring Maya Rudolph (Brides Maids) and written/directed by Natasha Lyonne (Orange Is the New Black).