GSD&M's Cinema Play

Southwest Airlines, ExxonMobil back IMAX film

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% While far from ready to quit their day jobs, Tim McClure and his crew at GSD&M are hedging their bets on the 30-second TV commercial by developing entertainment plays for their advertiser clients.

The creation of Mythos Studios, originally set up as Idea Studios five years ago, at the Austin, Texas-based Omnicom agency, is a formal acknowledgement of the agency's vision of the future of marketing. The 40-minute IMAX film "Texas: The Big Picture"—co-sponsored and funded by GSD&M client Southwest Airlines and ExxonMobil— is the first project hatched under Mythos XL, which will focus on large-format films. McClure has also set up Mythos ND to develop micro-budgeted indie films for clients.

McClure, a GSD&M co-founder and chief creative officer, is on the foundation board of the Texas State History Museum, which turned to him almost three years ago to produce an IMAX film for its newly opened Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.

According to McClure, the film cost $5.5 million to produce, with Southwest and ExxonMobil picking up half the tab and the museum paying for the other half.

The project was not without controversy. In midstream, original writer-director Al Reinert, who had a hand in the writing of "Apollo 13," was replaced by Scott Swofford, a well-known IMAX director who took over the directing reins while McClure took over the writing chores on the project.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% "From a marketing standpoint, our audience ranges from school kids to seniors, and we felt a traditional documentary approach, which Al was committed to, would bore the kids," said McClure. "With 10 year-olds, a slow, plodding history lesson would lose them immediately. We needed to dial up the entertainment value because of our obligation to make it commercially viable." McClure said the sponsors in no way were involved in the decision to change directors.

McClure said the film has been well-received and that the museum is entertaining distribution offers from other states, such as California and Oklahoma, as well as from abroad.

"At this price range, it is an incredible boon for sponsors to get their names in front of the public for 10, 15, 20 years. The amount is the same as they'd spend on a 30 second commercial or two."

All promotion for the film was branded with Southwest and ExxonMobil.

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