IFC's 'Influence' Takes Multimedia Hold


As it nears a subscriber universe of 30 million households, Independent Film Channel this week will launch its biggest promotion ever, touting a movie that will grow in length as it moves to different platforms.

An April 15 Manhattan cinema screening will raise the marketing curtain for
A Decade Under the Influence, IFC's documentary on 1970s cinema, which offers perspectives from many of the groundbreaking talents behind those films.

Decade, which premiered at this January's Sundance Film Festival, will run theatrically in six cities through the end of May, then bow three months later on the Rainbow Media Holdings-owned service.

The theatrical release runs less than two hours, while IFC's presentation will last three hours, unspooling from August 20 to 22. From there, Decade will get DVD and video-on-demand release windows, in an iteration with additional footage.

Cable operators are invited to participate in any or all stages of IFC's campaign, whether by sponsoring pre-theatrical release screenings, film-festival appearances or setting up outdoor billboards for the channel's presentation.

"This is about leveraging a rich product," said IFC senior marketing vice president Caroline Bock. "This is our first project going through every consumer-media touchpoint, and at each stage, we'll add new exclusive material to it."

More than 100 hours of interviews were shot for the program in its various incarnations.

This is Bock's first major campaign for IFC, as she came aboard weeks after NBC completed its acquisition of Bravo, where she had long served in marketing and public-relations capacities.

Campaign conversations with most of the leading system operators started a few weeks ago, with few specifics to detail to date. Charter Communications Inc.'s system in Fort Worth, Texas, serving about 185,000 subscribers, is bent on a screening sponsorship around late August or early September, when a huge college population returns to campus.

Mark Pronear, Charter's marketing and sales vice president in Fort Worth, is excited about Decade's value as a digital retention-and-acquisition tool. The system has three digital tiers, and IFC is coupled with Sundance Channel on one of them.

Through a public event, more non-digital customers can be encouraged to buy the IFC tier, while digital-tier customers can add another level of service.

IFC "fits well with our audience, and the subject matter, an incredible period for film, will make it an interesting program," Pronear said. "To do something local in town that we can produce and promote as a Charter event can distinguish us from the competition."

Theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Philadelphia will screen Decade
under the IFC flag, supported by print and outdoor advertising. Classic-rock radio station spots, cross-channel messages and a more extensive outdoor campaign will be deployed for the network presentation in August. At that time, IFC will conduct an online and on-air sweepstakes for Decade, with some exposure at campus film festivals and on Web destinations beyond IFC's own site (www.ifcfilms.com).

Some sweepstakes prizes under consideration include 1970s film posters signed by actors or directors, Bock said.

A number of fine points about the DVD release remain unclear, including price and distribution. One candidate is Virgin Megastores, which promoted IFC's Independent Spirit Awards
show last month through in-store monitors.

Video-on-demand play is scheduled for late fall, through spin-off service IFC On Demand.