Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Film Uses Tribune Setting, Unique Print Campaign for Its 'Message'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Film Uses Tribune Setting, Unique Print Campaign for Its 'Message'

Article excerpt

Moviegoers will have to wait until its Feb. 12 opening to learn what Chicago Tribune critics Gene Siskel and Michael Wilmington think of "Message in a Bottle." But the romantic Kevin Costner vehicle, which is billed as "a story of love lost and found," is already getting two thumbs up - way up - from the newspaper's advertising and promotion departments.

For the Tribune. "Message in the Bottle" amounts to a marketing triple play: The movie showcases the paper by setting much of its story in the famed Tribune Tower with the lead actress playing a Chicago Tribune researcher; the studio signed on for an unusual print promotion that required contestants to track ads in several sections of the Tribune over the course of five days; and the circulation department boosted single-copy sales at weekend sneak previews by selling papers wrapped with the film's poster.

"There are tie-ins everywhere," says Tribune spokesman Jeff Bierig. Tribune readers first learned of the movie with an ad campaign and contest that began in Friday, Jan. 22 editions. Highlighted inside the quarter-page ad was the beginning of the mysterious letter that kicks off the movie's story.

To enter the contest for a "Romantic Weekend Getaway," readers had to collect all the excerpts, which ran in ads in three sections of the following Sunday paper, followed by one ad each Monday and Tuesday in the Tempo feature section, and concluded with an ad in the Wednesday Good Eats food section.

"We had never done anything like this before," says Mary Hess, principal in the Chicago ad firm Hess Newmark Owens Wolf Inc., which created the ads. "We brainstormed and came up with the idea because the revelation of the letter is such a big deal in the movie."

In addition to the Tribune, the contest is sponsored by Air Jamaica, Sandals, Loews Cineplex, and Crown Brooks.

"I don't want to say it was turnkey, because it definitely wasn't that, but it went really pretty well," Hess says of efforts to get sponsors and schedule the print ads. In Chicago, broadcast contests were held by WGN-TV, the Tribune Co. superstation, and WTMX-FM. The contest also ran on the newspaper's Web site, www. …

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