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Coffee machine's starring role in search for Jesus


His ability to transform water into wine is well known, but the Bible tells us less about his coffee-making abilities. Which is perhaps why Jesus Christ will endorse the Magnifica bean-to-cup cappuccino coffee maker as ITV offers brands the chance to embed their products in its new search to find a West End star.

The Magnifica is expected to play a starring role in ITV1's Saturday night search for the lead in a new production of Jesus Christ Superstar, with Andrew Lloyd Webber as head judge.

Sir Tim Rice, the hit musical's lyricist, has already called the programme "tasteless" and "tacky" after warning that it would be "ill-advised to have people voting for who should be Jesus".

His concerns about the show's commercialisation may not be allayed by the news that ITV is asking brands to provide products which will be demonstrated by the singing finalists.

In an email exchange seen by i, ITV said it was "looking for a company to supply a new Saturday night prime-time programme with a coffee machine".

The plea was forwarded to the brand manager of De'Longhi, producers of high-end coffee machines. An account executive from Clarion Communications, De'Longhi's PR agency, replied that the opportunity "sounds great!"

She wrote: "The show...require[s] two coffee machines to sit in the competitors' house kitchen (it can be a machine of our choice so we suggest providing a Magnifica), and in return De'Longhi get a credit on the website, which can include a blurb about the products, a logo and a link to the De'Longhi website." The De'Longhi brand manager agrees.

ITV said that the Magnifica was "prop placement" rather than product placement since De'Longhi had not paid to get prominence for its coffee machine during the series.

Superstar marks Lord Lloyd-Webber's debut for ITV after defecting from the BBC where he enjoyed a run of successful West End talent searches.