SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- In an unprecedented marketing alliance, MGM/UA Home Video here and Warner Home Video, Burbank, Calif., will jointly promote a slate of five movies scheduled for release to the video rental trade by the end of the year. The five movies have earned a total of $260 million at the box office. They are "Wyatt Earp," "Maverick" and "The Client" from Warner, and "Blown Away" and "Getting Even with Dad" from MGM/UA. The total promotional program, which includes over $3 million in post street date network television and radio advertising, and cross-promotional trailers on the five movies, will generate more than 1 billion impressions. The program grew out of an existing arrangement between the two companies under which Warner handles the distribution of MGM/UA's video products. "At MGM, we were looking for ways to maximize the Warner-MGM partnership," said David Bishop, executive vice president. "We had the ability to come to the marketplace in the fourth quarter with five significant rental titles and we combined every aspect of our sales and marketing programs," he said. "We see this as a unique opportunity to create a win-win," said Ron Sanders, vice president of sales and rental at Warner Home Video, Calif. The efficiency and size of the program will benefit the studios and the retailers, he said. "We believe this is the first time that two studios have gotten together and combined their marketing efforts on a promotion," said Sergei Kuharsky, Warner's vice president of marketing. The program's components include:
The $3 million post street date ad budget that will be mostly spent on network television during the last week of January and
Pay-per-view windows extended from the usual 30 to 45 days to 54 days on the MGM/UA titles and to 80 days on the Warner movies.
Increased allocations of point-of-purchase materials, including a three-title standee from Warner, a two-sided standee from MGM/UA, an in-store video loop promoting all five titles and a joint toll-free hotline that retailers can call to order point-of-purchase items. "We were looking for a program that would be both retailer friendly and distributor friendly," said Bishop. "I think we've hit every hot button there is in the industry right now," he said. "We are very optimistic about what the results will be," said Kuharsky. "We have heard a lot of comments from retailers who have said, 'Give us the tools -- the post-street advertising, the pay-per-view windows, the POP -- and we will buy more.' If that proves out, we will continue to offer these tools in the future," he said. While it's not unusual for studios to cooperate on the nuts-and-bolts aspects of distribution or production, they have always competed tooth-and-claw for every marketing advantage, noted industry observers. In one highly visible example of a failed attempt to get the studios to work together on a marketing plan, the Video Software Dealers Association struggled for years to launch an industry awareness program. It never got off the ground. "Hollywood competes at a lot of very ferocious levels," said Tom Adams, managing director of Advanstar Associates, Carmel Valley, Calif. "But since [MGM/ UA and Warner] are distribution partners anyway, why not invest together in making something happen for the titles? It just shows that creative marketing is not dead in the video business," he said. In meetings with retailers at the VSDA show in July, MGM/ UA heard about the need for post-street date advertising, extended pay-per-view windows and promotional trailers on other movies, said Bishop. In later conversations, it learned about Warner's success with multititle programs, he said. "So we decided to join forces," he said. As for the future, "we are going to continue to explore ways to make that partnership better and achieve better results in the marketplace," said Bishop. "If the retailers embrace this program, we will definitely explore ways to continue this kind of a partnership," said Sanders. All the titles in the promotion are ideal for supermarkets, Sanders noted. "All five are huge mega blockbuster releases that are going to drive traffic into grocery stores," he said.