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Hollywood Tie-ins: How to Avoid a Horror Show

by Stephen Denny  |  
November 7, 2006
  |  7,402 views

Dear CMO:

Let me tell you a true story. I was having dinner with my boss back in my Iomega days, and we were talking about how you get more people to buy Zip disks. The industry just did rebates back then, so anything value-added was pretty bold stuff. My idea was to get more merchandising in stores by packaging disks preloaded with unique content from the film, and maybe with a movie ticket or a game. This was an unusual way of marketing data media at the time. His reaction was pretty unusual, too.

He slowly stood up, and with food falling out of his mouth, began an incoherent speech, quickly increasing in volume, about getting in front of the board by tomorrow and embarking on a Dr.-Livingstone-seeks-the-source-of-the-Nile tour. Other diners studiously avoided eye contact and physically shied away from us, no doubt fearing that they would somehow be dragged into the expedition carrying displays, sherpa-like, through Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport.

I grabbed my beer as it headed toward the edge of the table—he had tucked the table cloth into his pants—and told him the one thing that ruined the whole deal: "What if the movie bombs?"

Now, we all knew the movie wouldn't bomb because it was a sure thing. It was going to redefine Hollywood, push the boundaries of integrated entertainment marketing and be the biggest licensing bonanza in any of our lifetimes. Movies like Godzilla just don't bomb.


And therein lies the moral of the story.

In case you missed it, or if a few years of successful therapy finally blocked it out, Godzilla was a bomb. And if a sure thing like Godzilla can bomb, who among us is safe in the entertainment marketing world?

Here is a quick primer on getting the best seats in the house.


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Stephen Denny has been a marketer for more than two decades and blogs about strategy, marketing, and big ideas at www.stephendenny.com. Download his e-book, This Sentence Has 5ive Words: Eigen Values, Creating Truisms and the Future of Marketing and follow him on Twitter: @Note_to_CMO.

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