Since Turner Classic Movies wants to reach movie buffs,
it's going to the source, so to speak. The cable network will advertise its July-August
"Summer of Darkness" film-noir festival via in-theater commercials.
Cable networks have often used movie theaters as
promotional venues for screenings and other events, but rarely as media buys. TCM,
American Movie Classics, E! Entertainment Television, Cartoon Network and FX are among
those that have used theaters for promotional purposes.
In fact, E! last week announced sweepstakes tie-ins to two
summer theatricals, USA Films' The Muse and Universal Pictures' Bowfinger.
For the latter film, co-starring Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, E! is working with the
studio on presenting special preview screenings in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
But TCM has decided on an in-theater movie campaign to
"create awareness and build excitement," as well as to bolster distribution for
TCM in seven key markets, vice president of marketing Katherine Evans said last week.
Evans, noting that TCM's usual target is adults 35-plus,
said that for this festival, she sought a younger target audience, 18 to 34. "And
what better place to get younger movie fans than in the theaters?" she asked.
With a multimedia budget "well into six figures,"
TCM is reaching moviegoers with ads running prior to Austin Powers: The Spy WhoShagged
Me, Wild Wild West and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace on 1,246
movie screens in seven markets. The distribution is through National Cinema Network and
Screenvision, Evans said. Of those, NCN accounts for 432 screens, NCN president Bob Martin
The markets bought -- starting with the big Fourth of July
box-office weekend and running throughout July -- were Los Angeles; Chicago; Detroit;
Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; Fresno, Calif.; and TCM's home base, Atlanta.
TCM's pre-feature advertising consists of slides from its
film-noir movies, mixed with other advertisers' ads, plus such featurettes as movie-trivia
questions and answers.
In promoting Summer of Darkness, TCM's slides feature movie
icons Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Robert Mitchum and Barbara Stanwyck.
The slides also include "noirish" captions, like,
"Nine weekends of hard truths, faithless women, stiff drinks and a few lonely souls
trying to make sense of it all," and, "It's better to be a live coward than a
dead hero in Key Largo."
At one independent theater, The Brattle in Boston, TCM has
become "official sponsor of its film-noir Monday," a summertime film-noir
festival, Evans said.
In addition, the network is tying in with MediaOne Group
Inc. systems there, supporting the operator's July launch of TCM. Her network would also
like to partner with other theaters that are offering classic-film revivals on the big
screen, she added.
Indeed, MediaOne's Boston system is also a current NCN
client, Martin pointed out. In addition, NCN counts Nike Inc. and Lee Jeans among its
current so-called running-stock clients (which run video commercials).
Although he could not recall any other recent cable-network
theater buys, Martin said broadcast networks like CBS, United Paramount Network and The WB
Television Network recently ran spots.
By the time it concludes at the end of August, TCM's
festival will have presented 94 films, from The BigSleep and The Asphalt
Jungle to While the City Sleeps and The Postman Always Rings Twice.
The films are presented by star (with separate salutes to
films featuring Bogart, Mitchum and Stanwyck) or by theme ("Classic Femmes
Fatales," "Psychotic Killers" and "Hard-Boiled Detectives").
Evans said she's looking into "different ways to reach
movie fans," adding that in the future, she would like to have TCM's in-theater buys
extend to the concession stands, where the network's logo would decorate popcorn bags and
TCM also is supporting its cinema buy with cross-channel
spots on Turner Broadcasting System Inc. networks Cable News Network, CNN Headline News,
TBS Superstation and Turner Network Television, as well as on radio stations in
Philadelphia and Atlanta.
And print ads are appearing in Movieline, Premiere,
TV Guide and sister Time Inc. publications Entertainment Weekly and
In addition, TCM has been using cable trade advertising to
call cable operators' attention to its film-noir fest -- 18 all-night marathons spanning
nine weekends (every Saturday and Sunday in July and August).