Lord Saatchi said to Mr. Weinstein: "`You're a titan in the movie business,' " recalled Dennis Rice, president of marketing at Miramax. "And Harvey gave him back the compliment by saying he's right up there with David Ogilvy. It was a mutual admiration society."
The conversation continued months later between Mr. Rice and Robert Fletcher, executive chairman at M&C Saatchi in New York, and resulted in Miramax, a division of Walt Disney Co., choosing the shop this month as its first official advertising agency in a deal that could be worth close to $100 million in billings.
Last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting, Miramax spent $95 million in measured media.
M&C Saatchi will handle Miramax corporate sponsorships, movie promotional tie-ins and other creative and strategic consulting on an assignment basis.
"We are already working on some creative consulting," Mr. Fletcher said. "And we are seeking out some sponsorships." One of the sponsorships might involve British Airways, another M&C Saatchi client, Mr. Rice suggested.
"If Miramax and British Airways got together in some sort of sponsorship program, that would be great because it leverages the relationship M&C Saatchi can broker between those two entities." Miramax intends to develop marketing relationships with companies outside M&C Saatchi's client base, Mr. Rice also pointed out.
In the meantime, Miramax will continue working with other shops, including Geronimo, which creates movie trailers for TV and theaters; Aspect Ratio, which creates movie posters; and Palisades Media Group, which does the company's media buying and planning. All three shops are based in Los Angeles. Miramax Advertising, an in-house agency formed by the company in 1997, will also remain in business, according to Mr. Rice. Miramax Advertising "tries to leverage what we are doing in the feature film business, and create a commercial production entity that is separate," he said.
Mr. Rice characterized the M&C Saatchi partnership as a project-by-project relationship. The agency will help the film company advertise certain films "when appropriate," or when the film commands a budget large enough to support an extensive advertising campaign. Otherwise, marketing will be handled "in tandem with Lori Sale, who runs our promotion department," Mr. Rice said.
The arrangement appears similar to the one established last year between Cliff Freeman & Partners and the Shooting Gallery, both New York. In a break from traditional film advertising, Cliff Freeman created a campaign for the the Shooting Gallery's "The Minus Man" featuring TV spots with no clips from the movie.
Although Mr. Rice denied that there was an overall branding assignment involved in the M&C Saatchi deal, he said the company would keep its options open.
"We are one of the few entertainment companies that has an identity among consumers," Mr. Rice said. It's hard to imagine a consumer picking up the arts and leisure section and saying `Gee, let's see if there's a Warner Bros. movie out there.' Miramax stands for something in the minds of consumers."