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Livening 'Oscar’ Days

12/30/2005 7:00 PM Eastern

Turner Classic Movies will refresh its 12-year-old pre-Oscar viewership campaign with new consumer giveaways at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and on-air participation by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’s top executive.

The network does not share viewership data, but executives said the pre-Oscar schedule is TCM’s top brand builder. The event, “31 Days of Oscar,” enhances loyalty among regular viewers every year, while attracting new fans with its slate of top-tier films.

This year, “31 Days” is scheduled for Feb. 1 to March 3.

TWIST ON 'BACON’

The theme is a take-off on “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” the game in which fans try to link any actor to the leading man in six links or less. Each night, a single performer, director or other factor will link the TCM films.

TCM has 700 films in its library that qualify for inclusion in Oscar month, said Charlie Tabesh, senior vice president of programming. The trick is to cycle some fresh titles into the mix, which explains the inclusion of such films this year as Benji, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and The Karate Kid.

The 2006 iteration will be supported with a significant Internet ad buy on such film fan-friendly sites as the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), Fandango (www.fandango.com) and Yahoo Movies (movies.yahoo.com). Internet sites are attractive as buys due to their flexible scheduling, which allows the channel to change its buy as the need arises, said senior vice president of marketing and entertainment Katherine Evans.

Also new will be the on-air participation of Sid Ganis, the president of the Academy. The night before the awards broadcast telecast on March 5, Ganis will program a night of films and join host Robert Osborne in pre-taped segments.

TCM has given Ganis a platform to discuss the Academy’s initiatives beyond the awards program, as well as the historical importance of films, Evans said.

TCM has partnered in the past with Barnes & Noble, along with Warner Home Video. In February, 455 bookstores will put up signs facing the entry doors promoting Warner Video titles and a gift with purchase — a 60-minute DVD of classic film shorts and interviews from TCM’s film library.

Affiliates can gain from the Oscar programming by agreeing to run a minimum of 350 taggable spots. Historically, the top 20 ad-interconnected markets have participated in this program, forging local partnerships with Oscar advertisers.

For example, they will conduct co-promotions with the national automotive advertiser’s local dealers.

TRIPS TO L.A.

TCM will incent participants with a trip prize for each market: a VIP excursion for two to Los Angeles, including a celebrity home tour and hotel spa services. Affiliates can decide whether to use that as a local viewership prize; or as a premium for the top local sponsor. Most employ the latter strategy, Evans said.

The classic film channel will promote the programming gambit in consumer entertainment magazines such as Entertainment Weekly or Premiere, as well “influencer” publications, such as The New York Times Magazine and Vanity Fair.

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