Amy Gruberg

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Don't ask amy gruberg of DreamWorks Pictures why the studio's media strategy works so well for movies like "Gladiator."

"I can't talk specifics," she says.

But wait. You're an Advertising Age media maven.

"No, I love my job too much," she grins.

For movie media executives, this can be a typical response. Why? Few movie executives reveal their media strategies, whether before or after movies are released. Studios can launch between 15 and 20 films a year, so staying tight-lipped about strategy is good for business.

"We are dealing with a very limited shelf life," she says. "We have three days to make it happen." And with only three weeks to market each film, on average, the competitive pressure is intense.

This summer, the pressure has yielded big results. DreamWorks has had a dream of a summer, launching three mega-movies in a row: "Gladiator," "Chicken Run" and "What Lies Beneath," all of which posted more than $100 million in box-office results.

How did DreamWorks do it?

Ms. Gruberg, as head of media for the studio, helps set an overall marketing strategy led by the head of marketing, Terry Press. The 1999 DreamWorks' media budget was $124 million, according to an AA estimate.

"[Media] was a component of the overall marketing effort," says Ms. Gruberg. "I've been given a creative message and made sure it is positioned against certain targets."

For instance, DreamWorks placed a strategic spot for "Gladiator" on this past Super Bowl on ABC. The studio smartly developed a spot that tied in the combative aspects of the movie with the battling nature of football.

Unlike other media plans, movie advertising plans change almost daily. A spot is often moved here or there; more money can be added to tweak another demographic. This was a new experience for the Chicago office of DreamWorks' media buying agency, GSD&M, which is headed by Betty Pat McCoy, senior VP-director of national broadcast.

GSD&M had no experience in handling a movie client in 1998. Ms. Gruberg helped the agency get up to speed. "She's gifted," says Ms. McCoy. "She took a bunch of media people who didn't know about movies and made them movie experts."

Ms. Gruberg credits her expertise to the many types of entertainment executive positions she's held, from media buyer to media seller, with positions at agencies and at clients. "I wanted a full background, so you could know how to use the media especially from the inside," she says. "You have to see beyond just the numbers."

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