Cue the Ad
Movies mean billions for TV
By David Kaplan -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/28/2004 7:00:00 PM
Hollywood is prepared to be Friends-less. And NBC's rivals can't wait to bag a bigger share of the $2 billion spent for movie ads on broadcast, cable, and spot TV. That's how much per research firm CMR says is up for grabs.
|Outlay by top 10 studios in 2003 (thousands)|
|Rank||Studio||Total Ad Dollars||Broadcast Network||Cable||Spot|
|SOURCE: TNS Media Intelligence/CMR
|1||Sony Pictures Entertainment||$586,290.21||$243,143.10||$58,881.35||$64,641.28|
|2||Warner Bros. Inc.||$547,910.67||$157,780.60||$55,425.67||$61,101.75|
|3||Buena Vista Distribution Co.||$437,996.63||$128,972.90||$56,636.59||$62,307.81|
|4||Vivendi Universal Entertainment||$526,640.51||$128,625.00||$61,355.36||$29,727.59|
|5||Paramount Pictures Corp.||$418,102.79||$108,480.90||$86,123.40||$43,782.40|
|6||20th Century Fox Film Corp.||$315,403.04||$134,567.90||$34,952.71||$26,388.20|
|7||Miramax Films Co.||$274,478.46||$78,075.80||$29,088.34||$26,688.14|
|8||New Line Cinema Corp.||$204,142.13||$78,235.00||$13,504.88||$6,612.76|
It all begins with two words: Thursday night.
For the past 20 years, NBC's Thursday prime time lineup was the "must buy" for movie studios. "Thursday-night programming, from Friends to Survivor to The Apprentice, helps drive buzz. By advertising heavily on Thursday nights, movies become part of that. "People begin planning their weekend and deciding what movie to see," says Brad Adgate, director of research for media buyer Horizon Media, New York.
Because Thursday-night anchor Friends has called it quits, NBC's competitors are relishing the prospect of capturing the premium prices it got for 30-second spots. Media buyers may have chafed at the cost, but they bit the bullet: Friends delivered that crucial 12-24 demo.
"The younger the demo, the better—that's the general rule for movie advertising," says Ray Warren, managing director for Omnicom's OMD, which handles media buying for Universal Studios. "You don't need to advertise to people who don't go to the movies, and the prime market for movies is 12-24, followed by 25-34. You need to be in the younger shows."
That factor helps ABC, Fox, The WB, and UPN. They may lack the cumulative ratings strength of NBC and CBS, which admittedly skew older, but they attract that key target audience.
Which is why the major studios premiere three to five trailers a month on Thursday, the day before the average release opens on 5,000 screens nationwide. In the next few weeks, ads for Miramax's Kill Bill Vol. 2, Columbia TriStar's The Punisher, and Warner Bros. The Whole Ten Yards will dominate the TV landscape. Over the summer, Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Abkhazia and Columbia TriStar's Spider-Man 2 will blanket commercial airtime.
"Broadcast movie ads have the power to shape and perpetuate anticipation for a movie, even if it's not a major-studio offering," says Albert Litewka, chairman and CEO of Creative Domain, a Hollywood-based entertainment marketer that has worked on such films as Spider-Man and The Cat in the Hat. Remember The Blair Witch Project? Blair Witch parlayed an ingenious marketing ploy—is it a documentary or fiction?—into well-placed media buys. Viewers were hooked, and the film literally went from obscurity to blockbuster status. "If the trailer is done right," Litewka says, "it can capture the culture's imagination. Interactive marketing helped, but TV sealed its success."
Little wonder movies run a close second to cars and food as an ad-spending category, say media buyers. Better news for television: A study by the Motion Picture Association, an affiliate of movie-studio trade group Motion Picture Association of America, shows the industry ignored the ad recession of the past three years. Outlay of marketing dollars rose in 2002, while other ad categories—such as beverages, snacks, and apparel—scaled budgets back. In particular, the MPA noted, overall TV ad spending, which includes spending by both American studios and foreign companies that promote their films on American TV, increased 3.2%, to $28.9 billion, from 2001; $16.9 billion was devoted to broadcast networks. The MPA will release its 2003 figures late this month, but industry analysts are forecasting a 5.5% increase to $30.5 billion.
The MPA study also brings out a problem with the coveted 18-24 demo. That crucial demo, the study says, makes up 88% of "frequent moviegoers." Yet Nielsen Media Research reported last November that broadcast networks saw a decline of 11% in viewership among young men in the 2003 fall season. Plus, the number of younger TV watchers in general is dropping. "American Idol, Joe Millionaire, and now The Apprentice are attracting a younger audience," says Ray Dundas, senior VP, group director, national broadcast, Interpublic Group's Initiative Media.
Marketing execs see opportunities across the TV spectrum. Increasingly, late-night and early-morning programs are becoming an attractive way to zero in on young viewers, with media fragmentation forcing media buyers and marketing planners to talk down CPMs and talk up the benefits of narrow targeting.
Take The Jimmy Kimmel Show. ABC's frat-boy talk fest gets meager ratings but attracts the highest percentage of young males. "Advertising on The Jimmy Kimmel Show is intuitive if you're advertising a gross-out comedy or buddy movie," Dundas says. "With the morning shows, like Today and Good Morning America, you reach adults and slightly more mass."
Mention adults, and media buyers flock to specific cable shows. CNN's Larry King Live and Fox News' O'Reilly Factor reach important adult demos, while Comedy Central's Chappelle's Show and MTV's Newlyweds are particularly attractive for movie ads because of their solid hold on younger viewers.
A recent influence on studio media buying is DVDs, which have helped boost movie-ad spending by nearly 30%, studio sources estimate. Studios are ramping up ad campaigns similar to film openings.
Jeff Killingsworth, executive VP for media at MGM Pictures, remains devoted to TV: "TV is the single most important marketing tool studios can use to promote our product."
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