A movie about racing takes product placement and logo integration to the extreme

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Among other things, the new film Dirt, just released on all major platforms for digital download, shows how far branding can be extended into a visual medium.

Dirt, which is neither sequel nor homage to Grease, tells the story of Dez Truss (DeRon Horton), the good-hearted 17-year-old orphan–a black kid from Inglewood–who takes care of himself and his little sister Tanya (Kyla J. Coaxum) by working as a car thief.

Teaming with hacker Lexy (played by actress and twerking artist Lexy Panterra), Dez steals two Rolls-Royce Wraiths, one in the beginning, the other near the end of the movie. In between, naturally enough, he becomes a winning driver in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.

This is a co-production between Forrest Films and ESX Entertainment, with actress Christina Moore also earning her first production credit with a “big P,” as she said at last night’s premiere at the TCL Chinese in Hollywood,

“My job,” Moore said, “which I did enjoy so much, was dealing with all the sponsors, talking to all the corporate people, talking to all the different brands, getting product releases, logo releases, swag. That’s really what I did.” 

Moore plays the part of Glenda Radden, the compassionate but tough wife of racing team owner Rick Radden (Kevin Dillon).

One of the unexpected persons at the premiere was Gerry Spahn, North American communications chief for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. He spoke of Rolls’s relationship with Ali Afshar, who is behind ESX Entertainment. It is a bit odd to see Wraiths in chase scenes, especially in a movie about a grass-roots type of motorsport, but there they were, filling up the entire screen and rumbling like Detroit muscle cars.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also had a noticeable presence in the movie with Dodge, Ram, and Jeep products. Producer Afshar, who plays the bit part of Dr. Daneshnia, placed one of his ESX Subaru STIs in the Radden garage alongside a Dodge Challenger Hellcat.

(During the red-carpet ceremony (there was no red carpet, only a concrete floor), Afshar happened to mention that he recently bought a Ferrari 488GTB, choosing white for the exterior, and broke it in with a 10-second quarter-mile at Fontana.)

Then there was the huge Lucas Oil presence in the truck-racing scenes. Why spend millions on commercials, which are ephemeral, when you can make a movie for the same money and have your logo available forever?

At the end, in a winner-take-all shootout, Dez’s truck wears Protect the Harvest livery. Yes, another of co-producer Forrest Lucas’s projects. It’s mission is to “protect your right to hunt, fish, farm, eat meat, and own pets.”

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There are as many logos in this movie as there are nesting sites on an emperor penguin breeding ground in Antarctica.

In doing her job well, Moore talked her head off.

The movie, released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, has a nice pace, good performances, and lots of action. One amusing scene has Dez, at the Hellcat’s wheel, being stopped by the neighborhood patrol in a Toyota Yaris. Car guys will appreciate the irony.

Overall, Dirt is fun and uplifting (Frances McDormand isn’t in it).

Now I want to buy a T-shirt. I just haven’t decided on the right logo.

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