JOUSTING WITH KING KONG'S FEROCIOUS IMAGE KEEPER

A Story of the New York Lottery, DDB and Peter Jackson

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Starting next week New Yorkers will be under the simian stare of King Kong, the central image of a marketing blitz for a pair of New York State Lottery games called King Kong Millions.
The director's approval was necessary before the New York Lottery and its agency, DDB, could move forward with its King Kong-Lottery promotional materials.
But, in a twist on the ad-making process, that visage wasn't ultimately given the go-ahead by the lottery or its ad firm, DDB, New York, but by a shadowy-sounding entity known throughout that agency's offices as "the filmmaker" or, alternately, "New Zealand."

Every detail
Every scar and hair follicle, even the shape of the gnarled gorilla's mouth, has been subject to the approval of Peter Jackson, the rumpled auteur best-known for his obsessive re-creation of Middle Earth in the wildly successful "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Mr. Jackson was able to parlay those box-office smashes into a deal with Universal Pictures for a rare amount of creative control in his remake of 1933's classic tale of a big gorilla run amok in Manhattan, set for release Dec. 5.

Testing agency's patience
"There have been challenges," said Leo Mamorsky, group account director at DDB, with all the enthusiasm of someone describing a tax audit. "They're going over it with a fine-tooth comb."

Mr. Mamorsky and a pair of the lottery's creative team gathered last week in a DDB conference room festooned with posters and promotional pieces picturing Mr. Jackson's Kong to talk about the work. Conversation invariably ran to the director's complex relationship with his creation. "These are like pictures of his kids," said

Photo: AP
Based on his success with the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, director Peter Jackson wields unusual control over every aspect of the latest King Kong's physical appearance.
Creative Director Rich Sharp, pointing to one of the posters.

Given a breakneck schedule and the fact that creatives often complain about complex approval processes for their work, preferring instead to deal with the bare minimum, the DDB team was in good spirits. After all, Mr. Jackson and his people vetoed very few of the group's big-picture ideas. More often their fixes dealt with minutiae. For instance, there was concern about which profile Kong should be showing off. An extra roar at the end of a radio teaser was deemed too much.

Letting DDB 'define' Kong
Work for Kong Millions will air before the studio's major media push begins. "Universal is allowing us to define the movie, to define King Kong," said Lottery Director Nancy Palumbo. "It truly is a risk for them but it shows a tremendous amount of confidence in us."

"We signed off on the program and Peter Jackson had direct input and approval," said a Universal Pictures spokesman, adding that such an arrangement is not unusual in promotional campaigns.

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