MGM TO PUSH 'ROARING LION' IMAGE: BRANDING EFFORT TO HELP VIDEO, STUDIO STORE MOVES

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With its restructuring near completion, Metro-Goldwyn-May-er Home Entertainment/Consum-er Products Group is set to increase its marketing activity.

Under Richard Cohen, appointed the division's president last fall, MGM is planning a branding effort for its roaring-lion logo, an expansion of its nascent studio store business and a revitalization of its "Pink Panther" property.

Unlike most studios, MGM's home video and consumer products divisions are grouped together. However, the two divisions are now working more closely together to better promote the company's licensing and merchandising enterprises.

EXPLOITING LION'S FAMILIARITY

The branding plan for the lion logo hopes to exploit the icon's familiarity among consumers. Several Hollywood studio marketers perceive the trademark as the industry's best-known symbol and arguably the one consumers most associate with filmed entertainment.

Full details of this strategy will be announced in the next several months, Mr. Cohen said. But one component will be opening additional MGM Studio Stores, of which only one currently exists, in Santa Monica, Calif.

BRANDING AFFECTS STORES

"What we do with our stores will flow right out of our branding strategy," said Mr. Cohen. "Until now, we have not exploited our opportunities with our logo in any meaningful way, which is a good thing because our brand isn't tainted or overcommercialized."

Beth Bornhurst, promoted in the last month from VP-market development to senior VP, has the responsibility of developing and expanding the MGM Studios Store into the retail marketplace. Doug Gleason, who recently has moved from Twentieth Century Fox International to MGM's new post of senior VP-marketing, will oversee marketing.

MGM also hopes its Home Entertainment/Consumer Products Group will reinvigorate its "Pink Panther" franchise of movies and animated shorts through licensing and merchandising.

Plans for doing so include promoting "Panther" merchandise at point-of-purchase displays and through inserts inside the series' videos.

Similar marketing efforts are in the works for "Fame" and "Stargate," both of which are being developed into TV series for late '97. But "Pink Panther" will get the attention in the early part of the year.

VIDEO COLLECTION

The videos are being clustered as a branded collection, boosted by an in-house $2 million ad campaign and promo support from Travelodge.

"'Pink Panther' has had a long and reasonably successful life on video and as a licensed property. It's not going to be a 'Jurassic Park,' but the value of the franchise and the character should be and can be much greater," said Mr. Cohen.

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