American Movie Classics' sponsorship pursuit was
sidetracked last fall, but Amtrak's sponsorship of a travel-themed movie package is
the latest evidence that the network remains on track with its emphasis on marketing and
promotional tie-ins involving advertisers and movie studios.
Kicking off the fall season, AMC has sold Amtrak on
sponsoring a series of travel/adventure-themed movies under the "Explore
Slated to start Sept. 9 and run through early November,
this package of movies -- some of which were filmed on trains, such as the opener, Strangers
on a Train -- will include Sullivan's Travels, Moon Over Miami, Palm
Beach Story, Niagara and Butch Cassidy andthe Sundance Kid.
AMC president Kate McEnroe said Amtrak's commercials,
preceding each film in the Explore America package, will actually run within the pre-movie
"interstitial block" hosted by Bob Dorian. That block will be followed by an
introductory segment with Nick Clooney, who will host the Explore America series.
Each Explore America movie will be shown twice weekly,
Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and Mondays at 2 p.m.
Amtrak's off-channel advertising for its discounted
"Explore America Fares" broke with a tie-in ad insert featuring Clooney in the
September issue of AMC's own American Movie Classics magazine, which was sent
out to subscribers last week.
Amtrak will support the series and discounted fares via
"extensive" television and magazine advertising, plus signage at its train
stations, said Marian Azzaro, senior director of marketing for Amtrak Intercity, Chicago,
which covers 40 states. And hot links will connect the Amtrak and AMC Web sites, she
Moreover, Amtrak last week began a tie-in "Win a Trip
to Hollywood" sweepstakes in Blockbuster Video stores in Washington, D.C., Azzaro
said, noting that the trip can be to Hollywood in California or Florida.
"Quite a few" other co-branding or marketing
partnerships are in the works, most of them involving the major movie studios, McEnroe
said, mentioning Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox.
As for partnerships involving such advertisers as Chrysler
Corp. and L'Oreal, McEnroe said, "We're still working on that." Since
those linkups are promotional, rather than "the traditional type of
advertising," she said, those plans have taken a back seat to clients' cable
upfront and calendar-year buys.