Speaking on a panel at NATO/Showest, the National Association of Theater Owners' annual get together here, Hy Smith, senior vp of marketing for London-based UIP, which markets films internationally for Paramount, MGM and Universal, said, "Certain ingredients work better overseas for marketing films." As a result, campaigns get changed abroad about 40% of the time.
Consider Regarding Henry, which stars Harrison Ford. Unlike Mickey Rourke, Ford's not the toast of Paris, and marketers felt his character didn't look nearly macho enough to interest a European audience. By the time marketers doctored the American print campaign for Europe, Ford's hair was slicked back like Gordon Gekko, the glint in his eyes had narrowed to a sneer, and the poignant story became one of power, lust and ruthlessness.
But don't get the idea that Europeans don't have any heart. The Germans, as it happens, love dogs. The American print ad for Beethoven featured a family and Beethoven the dog. For the German effort, UIP cut the family and featured the dog alone. The film grossed more abroad than it did in the U.S.
Thanks to marketers, Wayne's World grossed $42 million in Europe even though the show where the characters originated, Saturday Night Live, is only beginning to air overseas. The reason was a mass-distribution of a "Passport to Wayne's World," which explained Wayne and Garth and the nuances of their hip vocabulary. Before the Passport hit the streets in the U.K., 1% of young adults were aware of Wayne's World; after, Wayne's World registered an 84% awareness. Paramount spent $10 million on the ad blitz through Europe.
Some 15 years ago, 70% of box office revenues came from the domestic market, according to Gene Cofsky, president of Ted. Lor Entertainment Marketing, Tarzana, Calif., who moderated the seminar. "Today, the percentages are changing dramatically--up to 50-50. And in some cases these percentages are tipped in favor of international," he said.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)