Hooray for Hollywood ads that know showbiz

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Beneath the glamorous veneer of show business is some serious business-to-business. Paging through the trade books read by Hollywood's producers, directors, distributors et al., we found that the smart marketers seemed especially conscious of their sophisticated audience's self-interests.

B-to-b ads of the one-size-fits-all variety were hard to find. For example, Dell Computer clearly targets the showbiz set with the headline: "The assistant to the assistant to the assistant to some of the most powerful people in Hollywood" astride the visual of a laptop computer. A single line of text further zeroes in on the target audience: "From scripts to special effects, it's the power behind the scenes."

The headline and body copy were well-tuned and well-targeted. It created the sense that Dell has a keen understanding of Hollywood's lingo and hierarchy. It's important for a marketer, especially one that sells into a wide breadth of vertical categories, to subtly demonstrate that it understands the nature of the business it's targeting.

We were less impressed with the visual of the Dell laptop, however. It was gray and lifeless. But maybe Dell is trying to be counter-intuitive with its monochromatic ad in the pages of a book where the ads are loud and colorful.

A far more Hollywoodesque production comes from Apple. In a carefully composed image, we see filmmaker Mark Shelley editing one of his documentaries in the dim glow of his tent on the African savanna. Etched against a spectacular sunset is a pair of elephants moving across the African plain. Oversized type at the head of the copy block serves as the headline: "Mark Shelley's HD edit bay."

Here's some of the copy: "Mark Shelley travels to the end of the earth to shoot his documentaries. But a professional-strength HD editing facility is never far away. Presenting Final CutPro HD, the best way to capture, edit and output high-quality DVCPRO HD footage with no generational quality loss. So now you can edit HD anywhere." The ad is a powerful combination of a striking visual-and directors know one when they see one-and compelling copy.

For those who prefer to edit or produce in less exotic locations, there are the Hollywood studios. This appears to be a lively category in the trades.

Fox Studios serves up a bland, industrial-looking ad that lacks any sense of art direction. It consists of a column of functions or equipment available at the studio. Just as sleep-inducing is a stack of oval-shaped images of the studio's offerings.

Universal Studios trumps Fox with an ad that features a montage of images that speak to what a filmmaker does. It uses a series of plus signs and bullet points beneath a silhouetted shot in a film studio to announce the various features of its studios.

A manic-looking barber armed with scissors and a comb takes center stage in an ad for NT Video, which touts 22 edit suites in its new studio in Hollywood. Time is money in Tinseltown, and NT Video wisely makes that point in the headline: "A Cut above the rest ... 22 edit suites-No waiting."

The copy sounds as conversational as a barber chatting up a customer, making frequent use of the personal pronoun "you." Yet the copy also walks the walk through adroit use of the technical language of the target audience. "All edit suites have direct fibre access to NT's Avid Unity server for direct file transfers after telecine. You not only save generation loss by avoiding transfers to tape, you also save valuable time."

The black-and-white ad doesn't lack for visual appeal thanks to generous white space and attractive, well-leaded type that's set in an unusual, ragged format.

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