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Drawing a line between truth and fiction in marketing

Drib spins an original tale with a truthful core by embellishing the details

Amir Asgharnejad is a Norwegian Internet performance artist. Or, at least, that’s what he calls himself. He’s more of a provocateur who likes to see how far he can push boundaries.

His videos, in which he instigates physical conflicts with people who are usually much bigger and stronger than he is, typically end with him getting beaten and bloodied.

His Internet fame led to him being called by an advertising and marketing company to help promote Drib, an energy drink. Drib, directed and written by Kristoffer Borgli, tells the story of the events that followed. Facts and embellishments intermingle to create a hilarious docu-fiction that brings the audience right to the middle of the pretentious L.A. marketing world. The film premiered at the South by SouthWest Festival in Austin, Texas on March 12.

Drib is a quasi-factual story inspired by real events that took place in 2014.

In the film, Asgharnejad, who plays himself, agrees to become a spokesperson for this international, American-based ad agency. To him, this becomes the stage for his next great performance. To them, it means capitalizing on the Internet trend of stupid stunts going viral. Their target market is boys aged 13 to 17, and they are positive that Amir holds the key to this demographic. Creative director Brady Thompson (Brett Gelman) has a vision for the energy drink campaign. Describing energy drinks as something that loosely keeps a balance between immortality and collapsing from exhaustion, he flies Asgharnejad over from Norway to take part in the project.

The film makes a farce of the marketing agency and the God complex of creative director Thompson, who keeps insisting Asgharnejad is not ‘part’ of the corporate world—his line of work just happens to be ‘in’ it.

The story is a meta-satirical analysis, poking fun at the unglamorous reality of marketing, but also poking fun at itself. It is a movie filming people filming people, told from Asgharnejad’s point of view. Because of this, there is a slight slant in the ridiculousness, as the characters involved are all over the top. The clients are hard to deal with. The actors are finicky. Thompson’s protectiveness over his creative work is overwhelming. Drib tries to not take itself too seriously, yet the ‘seriousness’ of the situation is what’s funny.

One of the challenges of the film was working with Asgharnejad—a point made clear by breaking the fourth wall to let the audience know. Whenever he felt Borgli’s vision was taking the film in a direction he didn’t agree with, Asgharnejad would improvise and change his lines or actions—the outtakes of which are included in the film. This makes Drib not only a movie about Asgharnejad’s experiences, but his stubbornness as well. It also serves to remind the viewer that, although the core story is true, there were creative licenses taken.

For more information on Drib, visit their website at www.drib.us.

About Tiffany Lafleur