Can you sell a raunchy comedy to the audience using only one cable network group? Relativity is betting you can. Viacom, parent company of Comedy Central, MTV, BET and VH1, has an unprecedented exclusive deal to hype its Movie 43, a raunchy comedy coming out in January and starring Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber (yes, you read that correctly).
“We’re not buying any other cable at all,” said Elana Sulzer, Relativity’s svp, media, “even though we would normally buy Adult Swim or Walking Dead on AMC.” Sources say the cable TV spend for a comedy from a small studio in January should be near the $10 million mark although it’s not clear how the exclusive would change pricing (Relativity declined to disclose terms).
“[An exclusive deal like this] is very rare,” said Francois Lee, group client director at MediaVest Worldwide (in fact, Viacom says it’s never done this before). “If you have a limited budget, and depending on your objective, it may make sense to explore one big partnership versus buying deep.”
The deal was put together by Dario Spina, Viacom’s evp of integrated marketing, and the mandate given the cable conglomerate by Relativity was, per Sulzer, “treat us more like family.” Viacom promotes its own Paramount Studios content in-house pretty vigorously, but Relativity has had a productive relationship with the media group before, notably producing MTV’s new Catfish series and integrating with MTV on its Greek warriors flick Immortals.
So Spina set about to create a campaign tailored to the odd property, and that started with showing viewers things they can’t see on TV. “[We did] a custom-tune into a premiere episode of Tosh.0, where the world premiere of the green-band (read: PG) trailer was housed, so there was a throw from Daniel [Tosh] himself,” Spina explained. Then Tosh gave viewers the URL for the red-band trailer.
Terry Curtin, Relativity’s president of theatrical marketing, said that Tosh was a must-have, and his imprimatur made waves for the movie. “He accounted for about 4 million views and one of the most positive reactions ever.”
There are other integrations coming—Spike is returning to live mixed-martial arts fighting and will plaster the arena for its first fight with Movie 43 images—but the Tosh.0 slot pushed viewers to the Web, and it’s vital to Curtin and her team that potential viewers get a glimpse of the movie’s coarse content.
“We really want people to understand just how R-rated we are,” she said. “Doing our due diligence has become a campaign strategy.”