Sample Book Chapters

Chapter 7 - Publicity

Chapter summaries in this section of the website are distilled from 139,000 words in the whole book.

It is not enough to conquer; one must learn to seduce.
                                                 —Voltaire
   Publicity is the most cost-effective but is among the least predictable disciplines in film marketing. Film marketers do not control the extent of press coverage, whether positive or negative, or the timing of its dissemination. However, when everything clicks, a publicity campaign subtly saturates the marketplace with third-party endorsements of films via upbeat editorial coverage.
   Publicity campaigns cost tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per film, which is a small slice of overall marketing expenditure when compared to paid advertising.
  The audience shift to online seems to have taken its toll on a Hollywood institution: the extravagant, splashy party. Instead of huge hooplas, film marketers are spreading their publicity budget over more and smaller events and publicity stunts because more events offer a better payoff. Film marketers find that crafting multiple events, each with a different thrust tailored to appeal to different audience segments, better addresses the interests of audiences on different cable TV and cyberspace outlets.
   Peer-to-peer communications is deemed very influential and is every movie marketer’s dream. Publicists seek out demographic groups and membership organizations with affinity to a movie’s content and genre. The most famous affinity vehicle for Hollywood is comic-book extravaganza Comic-Con, which is a four-day event that is open to the public paying an admission fee. Held during the summer in San Diego annually, the flagship Comic-Con draws attendance of around 130,000. Originally what started as a tiny event for hard-core geeks interested in comics, science fiction, horror, and fantasy entertainment genres morphed into a more mainstream event attracting families.
   In a marketing challenge, star talent generates unfavorable press coverage whether inadvertently or through miscues. When Sony Pictures hoped that Brad Pitt would be promoting Moneyball in September 2011, the baseball drama’s star instead was widely quoted in a celebrity interview as denigrating his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston, which clearly was a turnoff to  women moviegoers.
    Oscar campaigns are specialized publicity drives whose objective is getting awards that, in turn, can be promoted to consumers and the press. This is a rare patch of Hollywood where moderately-budgeted independent films can stand toe-to-toe with major-studio releases, because voters tend to favor serious fare that is an indie staple.
   Oscar/movie awards campaigns include private screenings for academy members, events such as cocktail receptions with filmmakers and cast, direct mail (via e-mail or postal service), ad campaigns in trade newspapers; and DVDs or online access to movies. Hollywood trade newspapers and other organization mount panel discussions where creative figures who are candidates for awards can speak to audiences with awards voters.

 
Table 7.1. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voting membership by branch
Branch Members - Percentage

Actors              1,183       21%
Producers           446         8%
Executives          442         8%
Sound                 407         7%
Writers                375         7%
Directors              367         6%
Public relations    365          6%
Art directors         343         6%
Shorts & animation 330      6%
Visual effects       289         5%
At large                240         4%
Music                    236         4%
Film editors          220         4%
Cinematographers 202      3%
Documentary       157          3%
Makeup                118          2%
Voting total    5,75      100%
Source: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)
Notes: The percentage column does not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Text copyright © 2013, Robert Marich. All rights reserved. Used here with permission from SIU Press.