E-Mail Hypes 'On The Line' Premiere

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After getting a late marketing start because of last month's terrorist attacks, Miramax is counting on a very large e-mail push to build interest for its new teen film and soundtrack "On The Line."

Gearing up for the Oct. 26 release of the PG-rated film, Miramax and partners have sent more than 18 million e-mails.

The film stars Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, members of pop group *N Sync. Miramax and partners Jive Records, MSN, SportsHollywood.com and others are sending e-mails to *N Sync's online fan base to market the film and its soundtrack, which includes three *N Sync songs.

"The unique challenge on this movie is to find the right way to galvanize a music audience in such a way that they'll ... go to a movie theater and see this movie. We know we have to capture movie fans who love their music," said Rich Hull, producer of "On The Line."

However, the bigger challenge was implementing e-mail marketing campaigns after the film's soundtrack, music video and offline marketing were pushed back. Most of Miramax's marketing personnel work at the studio's New York office, which is within a mile of where the World Trade Center towers stood.

"We basically lost about 10 days in the creation of the soundtrack and all music-related elements," Hull said. In addition, Miramax had to "unwind three months of publicity planning and then rebuild it in just a matter of days."

"We were not able to direct market on the Internet or via e-mail because of the shut down of business through the country and because the tone of the country, rightfully so, didn't make this sort of advertising appropriate," Hull said.

The manufacturing of the film's soundtrack was delayed for about a week, pushing back airplay of the single on radio stations and delivery of the compact disc to stores. The CD arrived in stores Oct. 16. The video, which had been filmed in early September, was finally edited and appeared on MTV and VH1 in early October.

Now, Miramax and partners' online marketing is on track. At the film's Web site, GetOnTheLine.com, visitors are urged to vote for the soundtrack's video on MTV's Total Request Live. Music fans also can listen to a track from the soundtrack and create their own music video.

Fans can opt for daily e-mails on the film, music and details of *N Sync appearances. Content sent to the 100,000 fans who have opted in is presented as news from the Chicago Daily Post, a fictional newspaper featured in the film.

Meanwhile, MSN sent 5 million to 10 million e-mails to its members to promote its interactive game, OutSmart Team *N Sync, in mid-October.

Jackpot.com, which runs the fantasy baseball game on FoxSports.com, sent e-mails to 7 million of its members marketing the film and a competition between *N Sync's Fatone and former baseball star Reggie Jackson, nicknamed Mr. October, in mid-October on FoxSports.com.

"Don't let pop stars take over baseball! Joey Fatone wants to prove he knows more than just pop music ... check out his picks for Mr. October's Playoff Challenge," reads the heading on one of the personalized HTML e-newsletters.

The tongue-in-cheek e-mails are meant to appeal to Jackpot's demographic, males ages 18 to 54 who may not be fans of *N Sync. The e-mails urge recipients to go to the movie and visit its Web site.

The 160,000 members who opted to participate in the game are sent daily e-mails updating them on Fatone and Jackson's scores and corresponding promotions. More members are expected to sign up. The rest of the 7 million members receive weekly e-mail updates on the game, which runs through the end of the baseball playoff games.

Jive Records, *N Sync's label, started sending e-mails on the film to its database of 1.5 million *N Sync fans on Oct. 15, and will send the e-mail (with different content in each e-newsletter) multiple times.

Miramax is marketing to other *N Sync online fan groups as well.

"Word travels fast among those groups -- too fast to ignore. Therefore, we realized the need to embrace those fan clubs and groups and have devoted extensive efforts to supplying them with exclusive information and giving them support," said Ian Schafer, director of New Media at Miramax.

For example, Miramax is promoting the film on Nsyncpagoda.com. "We have seen hundreds of thousands of visitors to the site in the last month alone. The majority are spending 10 to 30 minutes on each site session," Schafer said.

Miramax is using the e-mail databases and content development services of SportsHollywood.com, which features events and interviews where "sports and entertainment converge." SportsHollywood also operates ComedyonTap.com, which provides a daily, e-newsletter of funny news stories.

SportsHollywood is encouraging click-throughs to GetOnTheLine.com with changing "On The Line" content in daily e-mails to the 500,000 who have opted in for SportsHollywood's daily e-newsletter and the 500,000 who have opted in for ComedyonTap's e-newsletter.

SportsHollywood will oversee the content development of about 3 million additional e-mails from Miramax to "On The Line's" demographic. This includes a database of moviegoers who have opted to receive updates on movie openings at Miramax's Web site, Miramax.com.

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