Wireless Promotion Pays Off for New Line Cinema's Release of 'Blow'

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New Line Cinema was one of the first film companies to test wireless advertising -- with favorable results -- for its April 6 release of "Blow."

New Line effectively combined the wireless promotion with 2 million rich media e-mails, an interactive TV test and other online promotions for "Blow," a movie about the drug trade.

To gather e-mails for the New York event, six representatives from PlanetHopper Inc., a wireless marketing firm, handed out 20,000 flyers on street corners in late March. More than 1,000 people signed up for the chance to get free "Blow" posters at select Loews Cineplex Theatres and to receive "insider" information, such as special screenings and value-added offers.

The promotions and information appeared as text messages, and fans redeemed offers by showing their wireless phones or pagers to theater employees.

Executives at both New Line and PlanetHopper said the high response rate to the movie poster component was unexpected: The movie posters disappeared within three hours, with more than 10 percent of the 1,000 people who signed up participating.

"We planned for a modest response. We were surprised that movie posters were wiped out by 10 p.m. Friday," said Gordon Paddison, senior vice president, worldwide interactive marketing and business development at New Line Cinema.

"The participating theaters showed an increase in tickets and a positive consumer response to this innovative promotion," said Kristina Warner, vice president of exhibitor relations at New Line.

New Line executives have been evaluating wireless initiatives for more than a year, because "being able to be very close [to the consumer] at the decision point drives value for us," Paddison said. The film company is searching for ways to add value without causing additional clutter on wireless devices.

"Interruption marketing on wireless doesn't work, so we have to employ a different model. Driving information and impulse together can make for some exciting promotions," Paddison said.

New Line will employ a similar wireless promotion with PlanetHopper for "Rush Hour II," which is scheduled for release late this summer. "Now that we have success [in wireless marketing], we will do an overlay of carriers to markets based on cell phone usage," Paddison said. In addition, "Blow" promotion participants opted to receive future promotions from PlanetHopper and New Line.

For now, PlanetHopper is focusing on sending the messages to cell phones and pagers rather than to personal digital assistants, because not enough consumers have Palm devices, said Rachel Barenbaum, president/CEO of PlanetHopper Inc.

Meanwhile, New Line garnered high click throughs -- between 15 percent and 25 percent -- on its rich media e-mail campaign. From rental and inhouse lists, based on psychographics, demographics and other factors, New Line sent 2 million e-mails that included both Flash and video. Viewers could click on the interactive e-mails to go to New Line's ticket partners, such as AOL Moviefone and Movietickets.com, to purchase tickets.

In its first interactive TV promotion, New Line ran interactive ads for "Blow" on AOL TV and WebTV. The ad prompted users to click through to the official site for "Blow" or to New Line's ticket partners to purchase tickets immediately. The interactive televisions recognized users' ZIP codes and automatically referred them to the closest movie theater.

Although New Line will test other interactive TV promotions, Paddison acknowledged that there are still "low penetration levels" of users of the technology.


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