The U.S. Department of the Treasury has enlisted two Hollywood honchos to introduce its very own blockbuster: the colorized $20 bill.
WPP Group public relations agency Burson-Marsteller, which is spearheading a global integrated campaign for the department's Bureau of Engravings, has tapped Omnicom Group's Davie-Brown Entertainment and talent titan William Morris Agency to help market the new money. The bills will begin distribution through commercial banks Oct. 9.
"The impact of this campaign is going to be enormous and we need to get it out through as many channels as we can. That is why we are using many avenues. Product placement is just one of them," said Rhona Brauer, client managing partner at Burson, Los Angeles.
The new $20 bill will use peach and blue in its design, the first time since 1905 that U.S. currency has featured colors other than green. Color makes the bills more complex, and therefore harder to counterfeit. The government plans to introduce new currency designs every seven to 10 years, and designs are in the works for the $50 and $100 bills, with different colors planned for different denominations.
Davie-Brown and William Morris were both quietly hired for product placement help in January following a rigorous review process that involved other entertainment agencies that were not named. The two companies have already started to see the fruit of their efforts.
`big money week'
"The `Wheel of Fortune' has been showcasing the new money all week as part of its Big Money Week," said Mark Owens, exec VP at Davie-Brown. The bill was also shown Sept. 14 as part of "Pepsi Play For A Billion" on the WB network. Mr. Owens said Davie-Brown and William Morris are trying to gain product-integration opportunities on a number of prime-time dramas.
Product placement is just one element of the huge globally integrated launch campaign, which will be followed by similar efforts for the $50 and $100 bills.
Wal-Mart Stores and Pepperidge Farm are also assisting with the marketing efforts, Ms. Brauer said. Wal-Mart plans to produce a public service announcement to air on its in-house network. Pepperidge Farm is adapting Goldfish packages to promote the bills and will run a contest to a win a trip to Washington, D.C.
The campaign is being executed by Burson's internal ad agency, Marsteller, and is expected to launch next month. Burson would not reveal the size of the national TV and print buy. The tagline reflects the key reason for introducing the colorized currency: "Safer, Smarter & More Secure."