By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Premium coffee brands Nespresso and Vittoria are now engaged in a celebrity endorsement war to out-Italian each other, with Al Pacino now going head-to-head with George Clooney in ads promoting the rival coffee brands.

Vittoria started airing its Al Pacino advertisements on television in early July, with the erstwhile actor declaring that he knows two things: coffee being one, and the other something he forgot. These ads were directed by Barry Levinson, who won an Academy Award for directing Rain Man in 1988.

Nespresso, which is a Swiss brand, has a significant advantage in its current campaign, with George Clooney now a long-term ambassador for the company. Clooney has appeared in several different campaigns, each with their own set of TVCs. These ads have been so successful that the Nespresso machines are now generally known as ‘George Clooney coffee machines’.

The tagline of the Nespresso Clooney campaign is “No one can resist a good-looking Italian”, so how do Clooney and Pacino rate as celebrity spokespeople? Let’s compare their pedigree.

George Clooney (Nespresso)

Italian-ness: Clooney is actually of Irish descent, and was raised in Kentucky. He is Roman Catholic, however, so he does at least share religious affiliation with the Italians.

Awards: Plenty: an Academy Award for Syriana, plus four more nominations for acting, directing and writing; two Golden Globes; an MTV Movie Award; twice named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.

Coffee Class: Supreme. Whether by accident or design, Clooney is now synonymous with coffee drinking. His combination of style, friendliness and all-round good-blokiness means most people would like to share a cafe table with him.

Al Pacino (Vittoria)

Italian-ness: Without question the more Italian of the two, Alfredo Pacino is 100 per cent Italian (his mother’s maiden name was Gerardi). He grew up in South Bronx, a noted Italian-American district, and he made his name on screen playing a range of Italian characters, with particularly reference to Michael Corleone in the Godfather trilogy.

Awards: Pacino also has won one Academy Award, for Best Actor in Scent of a Woman. He’s been nominated a further seven times, but he’s not as versatile as Clooney, with every other nomination in acting categories. He’s also picked up two Baftas, three Golden Globes, an Emmy and two Tony Awards, amongst many, many others. He has never, however, been named Sexiest Man Alive, so this category is a tie.

Coffee Class: Promising. Pacino is probably best remembered for a consuming a different product in the film Scarface, and for his love of Jack Daniels in Scent of a Woman. He looks like an aficionado in the Vittoria ads, but this has yet to be cemented in the public conscious.

So, with Pacino winning Italian-ness and Clooney winning Coffee Class, and a tie in the awards category, it appears that Pacino could be Clooney’s equal in the coffee promotion stakes.