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With the 1998 holiday season animated movie, "A Bug's Life," the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group marketing machine directed by Chairman Dick Cook decided to break a rule by revealing its behind-the-scenes "magic."

Disney maintains a steadfast mystique around its animated characters.

The veil was lifted during TV spots for "A Bug's Life," however, where actors such as David Hyde Pierce were shown first discussing their characters, then reading their lines. The commercial closes with the animated scene from the movie and the actor's voiceover.

"Traditionally, we have not used talent in this manner," says Mr. Cook, who credits Federico Tio, senior VP-creative director of marketing, for the behind-the-scenes concept.

The film, which was co-produced with Disney's Pixar Animation Studios, follows a misfit ant looking for warriors to save his colony from grasshoppers.

The strategy was innovative, but just one part of the overall marketing picture. A key element to the movie's success was that it attracted viewers of all ages, and it was Mr. Cook who directed that the message reach not just kids, but teens and adults. He accomplished that with heavy TV buys during adult prime-time shows. For example, spots featuring Mr. Pierce-who plays Niles on "Frasier"-ran during that NBC show.

Mr. Cook also made sure the McDonald's Corp. tie-ins-including a pocketwatch premium-were edgy enough to win over teens and young adults as well as small children.

"A Bug's Life" finished the year as the 12th-highest grossing movie, with $127.5

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