VISA and Lara Croft are 'All It Takes' to combat a 'Monster Chase'

What happens when a US-based Hispanic model cum TV anchor dons of the role of Lara Croft, the beautiful sexy heroine of Eidos Interactive's phenomenally successful, Tomb Raider game series who has inspired two Hollywood movie sequels?

Well, you get a new VISA TV commercial (TVC) starring Sofia Vergara instead of the real thing - the sensuous and sexy Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie who plays a cultured, yet spectacularly athletic and attractive British adventurer in the recently released Lara Croft Tomb Raider II: The Cradle of Life.

Hey, but wait a minute - the "undisputed Latin virtual queen" Sofia Vergara who stars in the latest Visa AsiaPac TVC is a goddess in many Latin countries 'where the women are hot, and so is the weather'. With a huge following on the Internet, Sofia Vergara has become one of the most viewed women in cyberspace. This 'attribute' is relevant because the new VISA regional television commercial titled 'Monster Chase' intends to juxtapose the virtual and real worlds in a dramatic and cinematic way.

The latest creation under VISA's 'All it takes' brand advertising campaign in India will be launched in India beginning 5 September 2003. The 60-second TVC, billed as a dynamic and action-packed commercial, will air in 120 theatres across 15 cities in the country.

The commercial will be released simultaneously as the movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider II: The Cradle of Life hits theatre screens across the nation. The commercial was released earlier initially in Asia, New Zealand and Australia.'Monster Chase' is the fourth television commercial in Visa's 'All It Takes' brand advertising campaign following 'Dining Out' (starring Zhang Ziyi); 'Going Out' (starring Liv Tyler) and also directed by Bruce Hunt; and 'Tuk Tuk' (starring Pierce Brosnan and Zhang Ziyi).

Produced by VISA's advertising agency BBDO AsiaPac, 'Monster Chase' features the popular animated personality Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider video game developed by Eidos, one of the world's leading publishers and developers of entertainment software.

The TVC is positioned as a unique and exciting TVC which blends Lara Croft's Tomb Raider animated character with real life action. 'Monster Chase', the animated Lara Croft interacts with her real-life counterpart in a cliff-hanging drama blending elaborate animation with action and stunts.

The opening scene features an avid game player, navigating the computer controls and playing the Tomb Raider video game. Pursued by the monster in the game, the animated Lara Croft reaches out for help from the player, who turns out to be the real-life Lara Croft (played by the US-based Hispanic actress Sophia Vergara), and secures escape from the monster by swiping a Visa card, which the real life Lara Croft provides her with.

The same sequence is subsequently played back in the real world where the animated monster comes alive and the 'real' Lara Croft gets back her lifeline, a VISA card, from her animated double.

The entire commercial is shot in Prague, Czechoslovakia and is set in surreal surroundings of the 850-year old Strahov Monastery. Vergara was chosen as the new image even as the commercial develops to a history of science fiction inspired by the animated personage of Lara Croft. VISA is the third multinational that selects Vergara and the others include McDonald's and Miller Lite.

The expensive and ambitious production lasted several weeks, which were preceded of others dedicated to the preproduction. Some scenes were rolled in the recognized screens where they developed the digital effects of films like Star Wars® and The Lord of The Rings®. Other sequences were filmed in historical parts of the city.

In 'Monster Chase', Visa brings together some of the world's best talents in film and animation. The director Bruce Hunt, is part of the award winning team of directors creating the science fiction blockbuster 'The Matrix' while Lara Craft if the world's first and only none-human artist represented by Creative Artist Agency, one of the leading agencies representing internationally acclaimed artists.

The animation is created by Australia-based Animal Logic, the digital production company at the forefront of the international visual effects industry that designed and produced the visual effects for global box office hits such as The Matrix, Hero and Moulin Rouge.

Advertiser speak 

VISA AsiaPac executive vice president marketing and product sales Rajiv Kapoor says: "VISA's 'Monster Chase' carries on the momentum of VISA's 'All It Takes' brand campaign first launched in 2001. The campaign features extra ordinary surprises in seemingly ordinary everyday situations. It tells consumers that life is full of possibilities; the power to make things happen is in their hands and Visa is there to assist them. In 'Monster Chase', we make the 'extraordinary' even more spectacular by juxtaposing the virtual and real worlds in a dramatic and cinematic way."

While taking about the conceptualisation of the new VISA TVC, Kapoor goes on to add: "The pre-launch consumer research conducted across Asia Pacific reflects very encouraging feedback from our target audience. Consumers say that 'Monster Chase' successfully captures audience attention by differentiating itself strongly from other credit card advertising. By showing that VISA is always there when one needs it, the message of 'empowerment' comes through strongly."

"Borrowing from the highly celebrated animation Lara Croft Tomb Raider, 'Monster Chase' seeks to appeal to Asia's growing population of young technology-savvy consumers. The new commercial also reminds consumers that Visa is relevant for many scenarios, especially new payment situations, such as doubling up as an access card," Kapoor says while taking about the relevance of the TVC.

Lara Croft - the protagonist VISA has chosen for its ad

While many mysteries remain about the Tomb Raider known as Lara Croft, there are some things that is part of the virtual folklore. The daughter of famed archaeologist Lord Henshingly Croft, Lara was brought up in the secure world of the British aristocracy - surrounded by tennis, butlers and corgis.

Tragedy struck Lara early in her life when her father mysteriously disappeared while on a remote expedition. Deeply saddened by his absence, her years at Wimbledon High School for girls were mostly quiet. This was to change though as she grew older.

Moving on to the Gordonstoun school rekindled the interest in archaeology she showed before her father's death. The nearby Scottish Highlands also became an ideal place for her to explore and train as she became obsessed with discovering ancient artifacts and forgotten civilizations.

Later, at her Swiss finishing school, she took to the art of extreme skiing. Searching for more challenging terrain, Lara decided to take a holiday in the Himalayas (wow, what a connection to India).

On her return trip, however, the plane crashed deep within the mountains. Lara was the sole survivor. Escaping this adversity was one of the most harrowing experiences of her young life. It contributed to the extremely high confidence she carries with her today.

The dramatic events that took place in her young life lead Lara to largely reject the suffocating atmosphere of upper-class British society. She came to the realisation that she was only truly alive when she was working and travelling alone.

As a "Tomb Raider", she found a way of life, not a profession. She rarely works on commission, preferring the art of collecting and making new discoveries to pillaging the remnants of long lost civilisations for profit. To fund her adventurous lifestyle though, Lara works as a professional photojournalist. She has made a name for herself in the field by winning a number of Pulitzer prizes.

While in England, Lara resides in her ancestral home, a mansion in Surrey. At one time she saw little use in having it, but soon realised it's potential as her base of operations.

The undeveloped acres of land and numerous empty rooms are incredibly convenient for technical labs, vehicle storage and training purposes. Despite this drastic change from a life of nobility, Lara still retains the essence of her upbringing most notably her polite, upper-class accent and her appreciation of classical music.

Cradle of Life - the movie that VISA plans to cash in on

Stemming from the Eidos Interactive Game Series developed by Core Design, The Cradle of Life pits Lara Croft against her greatest challenges and dangers yet, and her physical prowess is tested as never before. During the course of filming this exciting installment of the Lara Croft saga, the Columbia production travelled from Hong Kong to Kenya and from Wales to Greece. In addition, elaborate interior and exterior sets, built at the production's home base, Pinewood Studios, located outside London, portrayed the world of Lara Croft bringing it vividly to life.

Sofia Vergara - the new face of VISA

The 21-year old Sofia Vergara was born in Columbia made waves with her first Pepsi commercial that was seen all across the country. In 1995, US Hispanics love the show Fuera de Serie (Out of this world) on Univision, the leading Spanish network in the states, wherein she took viewers on globe trotting adventures to 120 countries. She went on to host her own top rated weekly show A que no te atreves (I dare you). Barry Sonnenfield gave her the role of Nina in Disney's comedy film Big Trouble.

Interestingly, both Jolie and Vergara who play the cultured, yet spectacularly athletic and attractive British adventurer Lara Croft, have a young male child in real life.

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