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'Pirates of the Caribbean'

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No one in hollywood expected a feature film based on a theme park ride to be successful, especially since a recent jaunt into that area, Walt Disney Co.'s "Country Bears," fell flat on its furry face in 2002.

Oren Aviv, president of Buena Vista Pictures Marketing, used those low expectations to his advantage when he and his team crafted the campaign around Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." In fact, he adopted a do-the-unexpected mantra for the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film starring Johnny Depp.

The kickoff was a roadblock 21/2-minute trailer in March that stretched across all the Disney channels, from ABC to ESPN to Lifetime. Mr. Aviv created the trailer in-house with Jim Gallagher, senior VP-creative film services, Buena Vista Pictures Marketing.

Disney had kept the movie's footage under wraps until that time, choosing an all-guns-firing media blitz to unveil the first trailer months before the premiere. "We sold it as a big summer action adventure event," says Mr. Aviv, 42. The TV stunt ignited buzz, a critical cog in the marketing wheel. Next came a glossy newspaper insert. By the time the regular ad campaign started, interest was stoked. "Pirates" has surged past $600 million in worldwide receipts.

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