Warner Bros. Boosts Its Movie Marketing on the Little Screen

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To better reach the loyal yet picky online movie fan, Warner Bros. has stepped up its online marketing efforts by forming partnerships with Promotions.com, America Online and CollegeClub.com while also adding depth to its Wbmovies.com site.

Yesterday, Warner Bros. announced it entered into a one-year agreement with Promotions.com Inc., a New York-based provider of global Internet promotion solutions for marketers and agencies. The two companies plan to work together to create integrated online and offline movie promotions as well as a quarterly instant-win promotion that will appear at Wbmovies.com.

To get fans to go to its site as well as to the theaters, Warner Bros. has also looked to a number of Web sites besides its own to promote its new releases. Through an agreement with CollegeClub.com, for example, special features promoting Gossip, a WB picture that will be released April 21, began appearing on the site yesterday. Next week, all of the features will include celebrity interviews, chats and a bulletin board.

WB has also signed major agreements with AOL to debut its trailers for its new releases. To promote what the studio hopes will be a summer blockbuster, a trailer for The Perfect Storm will begin airing on the AOL home page Wednesday.

The studio, which has been marketing online since 1994, is in the midst of rapidly increasing its efforts as the Internet population continues to grow, said Don Buckley, senior vice president for theatrical marketing for Warner Bros., Beverly Hills, CA. "We're simply addressing the growth of the audience online. We've been aggressive on the Net all along. Are we stepping up our efforts? Sure."

There are 18 million visitors to movie sites, and this number is growing, according to Cyber Dialogue's Cybercitizen Entertainment Survey. While reaching fans in general is important, reaching the intensive movie fans is essential, said Alexis Thomas, marketing communications manager for Cyber Dialogue, New York. "It's worth more to capture that intensive audience because they are apt to spend more money in the theaters and on the site as in terms of retail."

The intensive online fan spends twice as much at the movies than the general online population -- spending $15 per month vs. the $7 the general online population spends, according to the survey.

To reach this lucrative segment, the content of a site is especially important as 42 percent of intensive online movie fans said their opinions of a movie changed as a direct result of visiting movie-related Web sites, according to Cyber Dialogue. Twenty-eight percent of online movie fans in general said sites have changed their opinions.

Warner Bros. is going to great lengths to build the Wbmovie.com content by showing online interviews with the stars of its movies, trailers and never-before-seen footage. For example, to promote The Perfect Storm it will air a 14-minute interview with the residents of Gloucester, MA, the setting from which the real story is based upon, next month.

In the meantime, the first campaign unveiled by WB and Promotions.com kicked off yesterday. To promote the movie Gossip, a viral e-mail contest was sent out. This HTML message allows fans to enter the "Warner Brothers Gossip Sweepstakes" as well as forward the offer to a friend. For every e-mail a fan sends to a friend, they receive an extra entry into the contest. The grand prize is a trip to Hollywood and backstage passes at Warner Bros. Studios.

"The promotions bring tremendous value to our destination in addition to all of the things we try to do to create a fun destination while informing people about our movies," said Buckley. "Contests, promotions and giveaways are classic offline ways for creating awareness. It makes perfect sense to incorporate them into our online offering."

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