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SEQUEL SAVVY: Let the spin be with you. That's what media editors and producers must have been thinking during the one-month period leading up to this column, because they devoted more attention to the marketing of the forthcoming "Star Wars" sequel -- "Episode I The Phantom Menace" -- than any other marketing topic on this month's SPINdex list.

Marketing coverage about the "Star Wars" sequel prevailed despite a real menace lurking behind the marketing of current blockbuster hit "The Matrix," which benefited from a surge in publicity when its black trench coat-enshrouded violence was linked as one of the cultural forces believed to have influenced the Columbine High School killers.

It's nice to know the Force still can prevail over the Dark Side, at least when it comes to stories about theatrical film marketing and promotion.

A related "Star Wars" marketing topic, the hype surrounding the decision to sell advance tickets to the film's nationwide premiere, ranked fourth on this month's SPINdex with a score of 52. Rounding out the top five marketing stories are The New York Times' decision to ban tobacco advertising from its pages (ranked third with a SPINdex of 72) and coverage surrounding the phasing out of outdoor tobacco ads.

Just missing out was coverage of the Forum for Family Friendly Programming, which scored a SPINdex of only 12, despite backing by some of the nation's top

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