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Jan 10, 2007  •  Post A Comment

At a time when there is serious talk about ways to automate the media-buying process, an Internet-based advertising agency has put together a successful local campaign for the independent film “The Painted Veil.”
Warner Independent Pictures worked with Spot Runner Inc. to launch the movie, which stars Naomi Watts and Edward Norton, in 18 markets outside the East and West Coasts.
WIP’s regular agency, MediaCom, handled the national campaign for the film, which as of Jan. 7 had earned $1.25 million in 72 theaters.
Polly Cohen, president of WIP, said the biggest difference Spot Runner brought to the campaign was the ability to run commercials tagged with the names of local theaters in different markets where the film was being shown.
“It’s not just the first time we’ve done it,” she said. “It’s the first time it’s been done.”
Laura Kim, executive VP, marketing and publicity at WIP, said it would normally be too time consuming and costly to try to traffic this many different spots with different creative content. With 18 different markets, and separate versions of the spot geared to say “Opens Dec. 20” and “Now Playing,” that’s 36 different spots to keep track of.
WIP had run local campaigns before, but without the localized tags it was like running newspaper ads for a movie without listing the theaters.
“This finally gives you the ability to say ‘It’s playing here,'” Ms. Kim said.
That’s made a huge difference. Ms. Cohen compared two markets, Orange County, Calif., where only the national campaign was seen, and San Diego, where the local campaign was employed.
Theaters in those markets normally register similar gross ticket sales. But with “The Painted Veil,” San Diego’s sales doubled those in Orange County.
Ms. Cohen said she couldn’t say for sure that Spot Runner was the reason for the increase, but “doubling a gross when they generally gross the same is pretty significant.”
Other markets in which the local campaign aired were Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Denver, Detroit, Seattle, St. Louis, Portland, Miami, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Austin, Boston (Cambridge) and Washington, D.C.
In addition to being able to traffic multiple spots, Spot Runner also provides opportunities for demographic and geographic targeting within markets.
“What Spot Runner is really focused on is streamlining the purchasing and the process of being in local television, and that’s local cable and broadcast,” said David Waxman, co-founder of Spot Runner.
A campaign like WIC’s would be pretty cumbersome to manage unless you’ve automated the process, he added. “The big agencies really are geared toward serving more of a national campaign or big [local market] campaign” and that can be expensive and not as targeted.
Spot Runner was able to mount a campaign that was targeted both by demographic and by geography.
“There was very specific geo-targeting, so it was local zip codes that targeted the audience for particular theaters,” Mr. Waxman said. “Then the demographic overlay was consistent across the country.”
The main target was women 35-65, Mr. Waxman said.
“We got them some fairly good specific placements like ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ and ‘Mad About You,’ as well as a mix of channels and dayparts that were appropriate for the demo.”
Normally, Spot Runner clients go online to plug in the demographic they’re trying to reach and how much they plan to spend in order to generate a media plan. But with WIP, there was more face-to-face communication.
“When you have a big campaign like that, it’s good to talk to them as well,” Mr. Waxman said. Spot Runner’s normal online tool set was used to implement the campaign, he added.
Spot Runner worked with MediaCom to help identify the appropriate targets for the campaign. MediaCom is owned by WPP, one of the investors in Spot Runner. Interpublic Group, which also owns advertising and media buying agencies, is another investor.
“This shows how Spot Runner can be complimentary to the big agencies,” Mr. Waxman said.
Ms. Cohen said WIP was aware of Spot Runner because she knew Nick Grouf, president and CEO of the company. While studios touting big-budget movies normally make only national advertising buys, marketing an independent film turned out to be a good application for Spot Runner.
“The movie did really strong business in an extremely crowded marketplace and we felt that Spot Runner did make a difference,” she said. “I absolutely wouldn’t think of rolling a move out in this way without it.”
Spot Runner is available to other independent film marketers.
“This seems like a very promising model for us and for the industry,” Ms. Cohen said.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s Media Planner newsletter, a weekly source of breaking news, trend articles, profiles and data about media planning edited by Senior Editor Jon Lafayette.


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