Advertising Week Panel Focuses on Hollywood

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Thu, 10/02/2008 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

The fifth annual Advertising Week conference convened last month in Manhattan and one of the most interesting panel discussions focused on “how brands are using new media such as in-theatre advertising online and mobile to drive their motion picture integration/partnership programs.” The panel was held at the Nokia Theatre in midtown. Ann Oldenburg of USA Today moderated. Panelists included: Stu Ballatt president Cinema Advertising Council; Rich Yaffa CEO GroupM
David Campbell senior director entertainment marketing Budweiser; and Evelyn Brady executive director of The Golden Trailer Awards. Ballatt made the case that advertising is “extremely important to exhibitor revenue” and dispute the myth that moviegoers don’t like ads in theatres. “Despite conventional wisdom to the contrary ” Ballatt said “only 7-8 percent of moviegoers says they would prefer a blank screen to ads.” Ads can be “very impactful” in a movie theatre and when coupled with surrounding activities such as popcorn bags posters and other ideas the ads are even more effective. In addition he said ads in movies are precisely measurable. He stressed that the advertising community needs to understand that ads in theatres must be entertaining to succeed. Oldenburg asked Campbell and asked to comment on product placement and in particular one of his highest profile marketing campaigns of the past year: Semi-Pro. Campbell said he and his staff read some 300 movie scripts a year looking for opportunities and the Semi-Pro project stood out because of the inherent positives from the Budweiser perspective. It was a male-oriented sports comedy it starred the widely popular Will Farrell and Farrell’s agent was the producer which made negotiations more direct. He agreed when Oldenburg noted that “not everyone is Will Farrell” and added that part of the reason the campaign was effective was the fact that it was the movie character Jackie Moon in the spots and not Will Farrell. That helped make the effort more appealing for the actor and probably helped make it more effective too because they did not have to hold back. Campbell said his team promoted the film with events in 30 cities. Tickets to the opening night were given away in bars and there were promotional prizes such as orange wigs and headbands. The end result was a campaign that became Budweiser’s “highest tested spot of the winter/spring period ” he said despite the fact that the movie did not do well at the box office. He agreed that it was a rare experience and noted that Old Spice ran a similar Jackie Moon Semi-Pro campaign that was not as successful. Yaffa talked about his efforts promoting the Tribeca Film Festival an event that provided a marketer a “wide range of options.”  The goal is to find “the passion point of the consumer” and he said the approach they had taken was to promote the festival and independent films as a populist movement. Brady noted that the Golden Trailer Awards are celebrating their 10th year and said that given the influx of trailers on the Internet and increasingly on mobile handheld devices trailers are getting shorter. Some have ten-second versions. Saw IV was one of the first to use that technique and it was deemed a success she said. Oldenburg called mobile media “the Holy Grail of advertising” and predicted a boom in 2009.