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Spike's Real Peeps in Academy Plugs

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LOS ANGELES The Oscar for best marketing of an Academy Awards telecast by an advertising agency goes to Omnicom's TBWA\Chiat\Day, if for no other reason than it's the first traditional shop ever to create a campaign for the show.

The push includes 15- and 30-second spots featuring street readings of famous movie lines at the behest of director Spike Lee.

The effort breaks Feb. 19 on host network ABC, as well as on cable outlets such as MTV, VH-1, BET and Oxygen. Outdoor tailored to specific venues broke this week and runs through Oscar night Feb. 25.

According to the client, ABC will soon begin a separate campaign featuring the evening's host, Ellen DeGeneres.

Pitching former director of marketing Beth Harris, the third time was a charm for the agency, according to Jack Fund, creative director at TBWA\C\D in Playa del Rey, Calif. He worked on the campaign under executive creative director Rob Schwartz and with art director Lance Ferguson and design director Erik Miller.

The agency first pitched ideas four years ago, but couldn't sell Harris on a campaign. "They didn't go with Chiat, but we made a great impression," said Fund.

The shop came up with another idea two years ago, but the client again demurred—then asked the agency to "resubmit" the concept for consideration last year, when it was enthusiastically endorsed and produced.

Fund said the agency-designed poster art, intended to be a icon rivaling Hollywood studio key art, has gotten play on shows such as Oprah, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and Good Morning America.

The outdoor "takes famous lines from movies and syncs it with a location execution," said Fund. "It is very tactical and location specific," he said.

So, for example, "Greed is good" and "Lunch is for wimps," from Wall Street, are physically near the New York Stock Exchange building. A "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown" billboard resides in San Francisco's Chinatown district. "What we've got here is a failure to communicate" from Cool Hand Luke was placed on phone kiosks.

"Most creative guys love the movies," said Fund. "The campaign came from the observation that when you go out to see a movie, part of it becomes part of you. You find yourself describing a scene or a line and the lines become a common language."

Lee was hired, Fund said, because they wanted a diversity of people interviewed humorously and quickly, and agency creative directors felt Lee was perfect for applying "the NYU-style of filmmaking. He has the keys to the city."