Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation will be huge at the box office. In its opening weekend it grossed $55.5 million in the U.S. and over $120 million worldwide. Brands that were involved in the production can be very satisfied with the box office results. One of the companies that got its products in the fifth installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise is L.G.R, a small company from Italy that produces high-end glasses and sunglasses.
L.G.R achieved quite a remarkable feat: Tom Cruise aka Ethan Hunt wore two of its sunglasses: Comoros and Tangeri.
We have asked Luca Gnecchi Ruscone, founder and CEO of L.G.R, for an interview and he revealed some interesting aspects of their product placement in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.
Seeing L.G.R’s sunglasses in Mission Impossible is certainly huge for you. Could you describe how did you succeed in getting your brand into one of the biggest movies of the year? Was that your idea or did producers approach you?
I was contacted by a costume designer who was working on a big movie and couldn’t tell me which one. I planned on going to London to see her, but since I was very busy I had to postpone my trip. Then she told me she was coming to Italy two weeks later. We finally met in Florence’s city center. She then told me she was working on Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and that she needed sunglasses for Tom Cruise.
How many weeks/months before the movie premiere did the whole process of selecting sunglasses take place?
I met with the costume designer more than one year before the release of the movie. We saw each other a few times and she went through various fitting sessions with the actor. I sent my London agent to show her the whole collection in London.
Who were the people / teams that were responsible for eyewear in Mission Impossible: props or costume designer?
I only collaborated with the costume designer and her very kind and efficient assistant.
Was Tom Cruise involved as well? And if so, what kind of communication did you have?
I never met or communicated with Tom Cruise, but he had the final word on everything, especially on what he wore, as he is also a co-producer of the movie. The costume designer made choices for him as propositions, and she had also selected other eyewear brands as well. After the fitting in Los Angeles she called me and she said “Tom loved them”, I was so worried I said, “Tom who?” “Tom Cruise” she replied. I was very happy. But it still wasn’t sure that the sunglasses would appear on the film, she told me.
There are two models of L.G.R sunglasses in Mission Impossible. How many pairs of sunglasses have you provided for the production?
They chose ten different styles and for every style they needed 12 extra models, so they could be replaced in case they broke or got lost during the stunts and action scenes.
Did you receive some guidelines or directions about the model of sunglasses that the production needs?
No. There was a lot of secrecy about locations and type of scenes they were filming. They chose and picked what they needed from the L.G.R collection.
How huge / important is product placement in Mission Impossible for your company and your business? Which goals do you plan to achieve?
Seeing a celebrity and star of Tom Cruise’s calibre wearing L.G.R’s sunglasses in the movie Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a dream come true which I would not have imagined possible. It is very important for me as a designer having my sunglasses shown on the silver screen without sponsoring at all this placement; and that they were chosen for their style, design, and quality of authentic made in Italy artisanal work.
Is it possible that beside all positive effects of celebrity wearing your brand you can also get some negative consequences (e.g. Tom Cruise is a prominent member of church of scientology and therefore controversial in a way)?
Maybe. But I hope not. Tom Cruise is an Icon for all the great movies he did and Paramount Pictures behind it in the production is an institution worldwide in cinema productions. This is far more important than his private choices and people should not judge a professional on his job on the basis of his choices in his private life.
Mission Impossible is not the first movie that featured your sunglasses. We could saw Kirsten Dunst wearing them in The Two Faces of January. How did you get involved in product placement in movies and in that movie in particular?
In The Two Faces Of January I was completely surprised. I remember a friend of mine calling me from London and sending me an image of a double deck bus which had a side advertisment photo of Kirsten Dunst wearing sunglasses. I asked why she had sent the image and she asked me if those were my sunglasses. I said, “Maybe” and then I looked closer, and checked on the internet. YES! It was L.G.R model Alexandria Honey with G15 green lenses! I was soo happily surprised since I never knew how they got there. I called my agent in England and asked if he had been involved, but he said no.
Luca Gnecchi Ruscone, whose initials inspired the brand’s name, established the company after having made a trip to Eritrea, Africa in 2006. There he visited an optical store in Asmara, owned by his grandfather, where he discovered a box of sunglasses which had been imported from Italy 50 years earlier.
After having returned to Italy with the sunglasses, Luca began to receive many requests for the frames. He then decided to start a business, where he was able to re-open the original factory which had closed in 1968 due to the arrival of new technologies and industrial methods. He began a small production of four of the authentic frames that would respect the same artisan methods of their original make. From then on the line has developed into a selection of sunglasses and optical frames, which are all inspired by the original discovery made in Asmara.