New York -- Encore Media Group is continuing its aggressive
push into the pay category, launching a $60 million branding campaign for its two premium
movie networks, Starz! and Encore.
In addition, EMG will offer a nationwide free preview of
Starz! during the weekend of March 6 through 8, and the company said actor Martin Sheen
would be featured as its official 'voice,' and Leonard Maltin will join the
network as 'critic-at-large.'
EMG has earmarked $40 million in media spending for Starz!
and $20 million for Encore, with a heavy emphasis on national cable networks, including
USA Network, Turner Network Television, TBS Superstation, Cable News Network, A&E
Network, Lifetime Television, Discovery Channel and The History Channel.
The network unveiled its plans at a Planet Hollywood party
here last week.
The campaign, which centers around the tag line,
'Movies Too Big to Miss,' will also include spot ads on nationally syndicated TV
shows and radio programs and print ads in Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide and
The Wall Street Journal.
Mike Hale, senior vice president of marketing and business
development for EMG, said the campaign was meant to 'clearly differentiate'
Starz! from Home Box Office and Showtime.
HBO, he asserted, is perceived primarily as a 'great
entertainment channel,' with comedy, sitcoms and concerts, in addition to films.
Showtime's programming, he contended, has 'defaulted' to a heavy emphasis
on original movies.
(SHOWTIME COMMENT WAITING FOR CALL. Coming at 2:30 p.m.)
Starz!'s opportunity, Hale argued, was to emphasize
that it is the only premium service offering only high-profile theatrical movies.
TV ads for the Starz! campaign use the 'Ode to
Joy' from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, overlaid with clips from some of the
network's major upcoming movies, including The English Patient, Shine
and Sling Blade.
According to Hale, a similar national advertising campaign
for Starz! last year raised consumer awareness of the channel by 75 percent.
The Encore branding campaign is the network's first
since its launch in 1991. The theme of the campaign, 'The Movies of Your Life,'
is reinforced by clips and original theme music from the channel's library of movies
from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Hale said the Encore campaign was designed to be 'more
emotional,' evoking nostalgic memories among the target baby boomer audience.
Both John Sie, president and CEO of EMG, and Stan Richards,
principal of The Richards Group, the Dallas-based agency that created the campaign,
stressed the importance of the all-movie theme for both Starz! and Encore.
Richards said consumer research conducted by the agency
found that consumers believed that HBO and Showtime had 'drifted away' from
showing a steady diet of movies, which represented a 'big opportunity' for EMG.
The new campaign comes at a competitive time for the
premium category. Showtime just launched its own $40 million 'No Limits' image
and branding campaign last month, and HBO's 1996 'talking chimps' campaign
was the first ad campaign to win an Emmy.