By Allison J. Waldman
Special to TelevisionWeek
In the relatively new platform of video-on-demand, the most prevalent content found on most channels is recently released motion pictures. Therefore, it was no surprise that Stacy Melle, VP of marketing for NBC Universal, talking about promoting video-on-demand, said, “There’s a lot of competition in the market.” By taking advantage of CNBC, a channel in the NBC Universal family, Ms. Melle and her marketing team created an innovative campaign that CTAM has chosen as one of the best of the year.
The challenge facing NBC Universal marketing when it was planning to promote the Dennis Quaid-Topher Grace comedy “In Good Company” was to distinguish it from all the other movies. “We were trying to think of a way to break out of the clutter,” Ms. Melle said. “We feared that if we didn’t come up with a good promotion, we may not be able to secure cross-channel promotion.”
They decided to think out of the box, consulting with entertainment marketing group Norm Marshall Associates. NMA’s notion was a local ad sales promotion.
“They wondered if we had ever done one with a video-on-demand movie,” Ms. Melle said. “NMA’s John Zamoiski had the idea of a tie-in with CNBC because the film takes place in a business environment, and it seemed very appropriate to partner with CNBC. That was very desirable, because anytime we can bring in any of our other networks we like to do that.”
Doing something that had never been done before was not without some problems. Said Ms. Melle, “There was a legal issue we had to get around because we can’t have advertisers sponsoring movies. That gets into all kinds of issues for theatricals and with actors and actresses and directors and unions. The way around that was creating business tips. Therefore, the advertiser was not really sponsoring the film; instead, they were sponsoring the business tips.”
The CNBC Model
The business tips idea wasn’t entirely new. “The model we followed came from CNBC. Every year they do CNBC Tax Tips. We were really tagging onto something CNBC had done for many years-for local ad sales. This is the first time that it had ever been done tying it onto a Hollywood movie,” Ms. Melle said.
Since the business tips were going to run on CNBC, it was decided that the most recognizable star on the network should host them. “We felt that Maria Bartiromo was perfect because she’s a great representative of CNBC. Basically, the idea was for Maria to present a business tip and then have a scene from the movie verify her point. We created three different TV spots. We made 20 10-second spots so that there was a 10-second tag for a local advertisement.”
The idea was innovative, but more important, it worked. “It was very successful. It had a dual benefit: First, it promoted video-on-demand and increased ad rates; and second, it gave them an outlet to bring in nontraditional advertisers,” Ms. Melle said. “We brought in a lot of different segments that their normal cable advertising couldn’t reach and maybe some smaller guys who didn’t have a budget to produce a full 30-second spot but could attach themselves to a big Hollywood film with a 10-second spot.”
One of the real pluses for the NBC Universal marketing team was using more of the company than just the on-demand sector. “I think the company is thrilled because it was really a synergistic promotion, obviously, in that we incorporated CNBC. It shows the power of NBC and Universal coming together,” Ms. Melle said.
This experience has already paid off for NBC Universal. “This is a template, absolutely,” Ms. Melle said. “You just have to find the right property and the right tie-in. We’ve used it twice since Company.’ We also did a local ad sales campaign for `The Perfect Man.’ The one that’s in the marketplace right now is for `Nanny McPhee.’ NBC Universal is very dedicated to this platform-on-demand.”