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Herald Sun (Australia): Shell too stingy to aid Sophie

By Kate Sikora
Friday April 06, 2007

PETROL giant Shell has snubbed Sydney in favour of Wollongong because it was too stingy to donate $50,000 to Sophie Delezio’s charity in return for having the Harbour Bridge shut to make a commercial.

It is one of the most expensive ads ever shot and features world famous cities – except Sydney.

Instead Wollongong gets world exposure along with Rome, Monaco and Rio De Janeiro in the new Shell-Ferrari television ad.

While Shell gouges motorists at the bowser and reaped in $25.4 billion last year, it refused to pay a $50,000 fee in return for having the Harbour Bridge closed.

The producers canned the shoot three days after agreeing to pay the NSW Government levy, which was going to be donated to Sophie Delezio’s Day of Difference Foundation.

Shell yesterday refused to say why it did not go ahead with filming in Sydney.

But Sophie’s father and charity founder Ron Delezio said he was “extremely disappointed” the company had reneged on the deal, personally arranged by NSW Premier Morris Iemma.

“That money could have gone a long way to helping some very sick children,” he said. “It isn’t a lot of money for Shell but that could have paid for children to go on camps or some lifesaving equipment.”

The two-minute commercial – to be aired in September – celebrates the 60-year partnership between Ferrari F1 and Shell. An F1 Ferrari was originally planned to be driven across the Harbour Bridge.

But producers opted for the cheaper option of Wollongong’s Sea Cliff Bridge, which they could use for free.

A spokesman for Mr Iemma denied the levy had cost Sydney an opportunity to boost tourism.

“It wasn’t like the 75th Harbour Bridge anniversary, which was a community event,” he said.

“This was a commercial agreement. Shell wasn’t promoting Sydney. It was promoting petrol.”

The Bridge was shut to traffic for five hours in February 2005 when F1 driver Mark Webber drove a Williams racing car to promote Melbourne’s Grand Prix.

It reportedly cost nothing for the closure as it was advertising a national sporting event.

Wollongong Mayor Alex Darling said it was great to have a bridge, other than the Harbour Bridge, getting exposure. “Since it opened, the Sea Cliff Bridge has been a tourist attraction,” he said.

The commercial reportedly cost $4.9 million and includes Formula 1 Ferraris dating back to 1952.

A Shell Australia spokeswoman said it was an “overnight decision” to not film in Sydney.

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,21513047-662,00.html

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