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HEY, SPONSORS: YOU OUGHTA BE IN PICTURES OR TV;ENTERTAINMENT & MEDIA: THERE'S ROOM FOR INVOLVEMENT, SAY EXECS

By Published on .

When Bob Harper brings out the moon rock, his staff groans.

The rock commemorates the one of the biggest hits in movie history. But it's the pun emblazoned on the rock-"No stone unturned"-that causes his staff's reactions.

The phrase best sums up the work from one of the most effective movie-marketing campaigns in Hollywood history, as well as from the gold standard in movie marketing, Walt Disney Co. So, too, can it sum up the work NBC's done in promoting itself and its advertisers.

`VALIDATED A PHILOSOPHY'

At Fox, "*`Independence Day' validated a philosophy that has been forming for a couple years: integrated programs, created by a team, working together, firing on all cylinders," says Mr. Harper, president-domestic marketing.

The media came in three waves: Christmas/Super Bowl, Memorial Day and two weeks before release. Each wave revealed a little more of the movie's impressive special effects and haunting images. Meanwhile, the studio's licensing division had a roster of partners committed to spending significant dollars behind toys and other merchandise.

"Independence Day" represents a kind of movie the studio wants to make more of, the so-called "event films." Next year will see a fourth "Alien" film, as well as "Anastasia," the first effort from the studio's new feature animation division. Such products will require making the out-of-the-box thinking Fox demonstrated on "Independence Day" the rule, not the exception.That's a way of marketing for which Disney has set the standard, one it continuously reinvents.

From a "Toy Story Funhouse" in Los Angeles last fall to a lavish parade through New Orleans' French Quarter celebrating the premiere of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" last summer, Disney again proved to be experts at "finding new ways to reach the audience, to rise above the clutter and make our characters and films familiar to audiences before they arrive into theaters," says Richard Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Pictures Group.

This past year, Disney bolstered its marketing resources by inking a 10-year promotional alliance with McDonald's Corp., not to mention finalizing its acquisition of Capital Cities/ABC. Disney also announced that it would cut by nearly half the number of films its Hollywood Films and Touchstone Pictures labels produces each year.

"We're trying to be smarter and more strategic in what we do, and also be more effective" in distribution and marketing, says Mr. Cook of the leaner-and-meaner approach.

FORCE IN TV

Movie studios, however, are not the only forces in entertainment marketing.

NBC surprised media observers by naming Andrew Capone this year as senior VP-marketing. NBC Network President Neil Braun plucked Mr. Capone from the TV stations division, where he had labored as VP-sales & marketing.

In his new position, Mr. Capone has at his disposal a $50 million ad budget and the programming and branding assets of the nation's top-rated TV network.

Mr. Capone had a running start when he came aboard this past spring. Negotiations with McDonald's Corp. and Coca-Cola Co. for value-added promotions tied to the Summer Olympics were proceeding. And the plan for the network's Olympics coverage, under the direction of NBC sports chief Dick Ebersol, to capture a large women audience for the Games was also already in place.

Mr. Capone says he is confident the marketing team he joined will continue to make sure viewers recognize the NBC brand, whether associated with the Olympics-which the network will carry through 2008-or otherwise.

One way the network is doing that is by getting into other businesses. The network has started marketing an NBC Club, a frequent-flyer-like club to reinforce the NBC brand with discounts on NBC merchandise and other goods. That program was set in motion by Mr. Capone's predecessor, but it's the type of idea NBC will continue to push.

"I want to find a way we can combine a number of our properties, including cable and our stations, to help clients in integrated marketing solutions," Mr. Capone says. "We have the best branded network. Now let's use that as a springboard."

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