SPRINT LINKS WITH 3 BIG SUMMER FILMS: $20 MIL IN ADS TO SUPPORT PROMO OFFERING CUSTOMERS FREE TICKETS

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Sprint Corp. plans to tie into three summer blockbuster movies with a new promotion for free tickets.

The drive will be supported by an estimated $10 million to $20 million in advertising, breaking May 4.

Customers who sign up for Sprint long-distance service in May and June will receive eight movie tickets to any film they choose -- two tickets upon sign-up and two more for every month they remain a customer and spend at least $10 on long-distance service.

Existing Sprint customers also can get the tickets, as long as they're not already signed up for another promotion.

BUILDING ON `MIB'

The program builds on the success of last year's "Men in Black" tie-in, in which Sprint customers got two free tickets to that film.

This year's campaign, from J. Walter Thompson USA, San Francisco and New York, will use exclusive clips and stills from the Sony Pictures Entertainment films "Godzilla" and "The Mask of Zorro"; and Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures' "Deep Impact," along with Sprint's own new ticket-booth lady character. There will be three separate 30-second spots, one for each movie, and a :60 that features both Sony films.

Other media include print, radio, Internet and point of purchase.

Sprint is working with MovieCash, which has distribution deals with 85% to 90% of the movie theaters in the U.S.

New Sprint customers will get an introductory packet listing the theaters that will accept the coupons and the information will be listed on Sprint's Web site (www.sprint.com).

"Because of the success of the `Men in Black' promotion, it led us to expand the program. Instead of limiting folks to just one movie, we decided to give them a choice," said a Sprint spokesman.

"It gives Sprint a bigger, broader Hollywood angle, which is great," said Mark Workman, senior VP-marketing and promotions, Sony Pictures Entertainment. "We couldn't be more pleased that the centerpiece of it will be `Godzilla.' "

PIECES OF GODZILLA

Although bits and pieces of Godzilla will be seen in the Sprint spots, there will be no head shots and no full-body shots. The first full-body shot of the creature won't be made available until May 20.

The studios, which do not help pay for the ad placements, get exposure in exchange for the exclusive clips.

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