Entertainment Marketing Revolution, The: Bringing the Moguls, the Media, and the Magic to the World
- By Al Lieberman, Pat Esgate
- Published May 1, 2002 by FT Press.
- Copyright 2002
- Dimensions: F
- Pages: 384
- Edition: 1st
- ISBN-10: 0-13-029350-4
- ISBN-13: 978-0-13-029350-3
- eBook (Adobe DRM)
- ISBN-10: 0-13-151727-9
- ISBN-13: 978-0-13-151727-1
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Product Author Bios
AL LIEBERMAN is Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the Entertainment, Media & Technology Program at New York University, a state-of-the-art program designed to help MBA and undergraduate students understand the strategy and operating principles that drive each sector of the entertainment industry, the financing of start-ups and product development, the marketing and management of entertainment companies, and relevant technologies that connect entertainment products with consumers.
Lieberman has extensive international and domestic marketing and advertising management experience with global communications companies. He worked at Young & Rubicam in New York, Milan, Italy and Sao Paulo, Brazil, managing Fortune 500 companies' advertising accounts before becoming Executive Vice President of the Wunderman Direct Response Division of Young & Rubicam.
Lieberman later joined Simon and Schuster as Worldwide Director of Marketing, becoming Executive Vice President of its Silhouette Books division. Most recently, he founded and served as CEO of Grey Entertainment, an advertising and marketing company whose entertainment, leisure and recreation clients have included Warner Bros. Studios, ABC Entertainment, Harper Collins, Westinghouse/Group W Radio, Viking Penguin, and Bertelsmann. He continues to maintain an entertainment consulting business.
PATRICIA ESGATE is the Executive Editor of Entertainment Management magazine and The EZone newsletter, both serving the Experiential Industry. Ms. Esgate's 25 years in design, construction, marketing, training, management, operations and new business development is offered to clients through Esgate & Associates, a firm that has specialized in the strategic development of experience-based destinations and branding for over a decade. Her clients include the Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios, Sony, and Jim Henson Productions.
Pat is a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA), the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD), and is the past Director of the Northeast Chapter of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).
Entertainment is now a $500 billion industry that reaches into every corner of human life. The Entertainment Marketing Revolution: Bringing the Moguls, the Media, and the Magic to the World profiles that industry, from film to print, music to theme parksand shows exactly how to find and reach your market in today's insanely competitive marketplace. Discover the driving forces, key synergies, new opportunities, and advanced marketing techniques today's top companies are riding to success... and learn how to create tomorrow's blockbuster properties, starting today.
Online Sample Chapter
Table of Contents
1. Peeling the Onion: Entertainment Marketing Basics.
2. People, Power, and Players.
3. Movies: Wannasee, Haftasee, and Mustsee.
4. Network TV, Syndication, and Radio.
6. Publishing: The Printed Word.
9. Travel and Tourism.
10. Location-Based Entertainment and Experiential Branding.
11. Changes and Challenges.
"Let Us Entertain You"
P.T. Barnum was the master showman. He knew what the masses wanted, from lowbrow sideshow freaks to the highbrow culture of Jenny Lind, imported straight from Europe. Barnum knew that people craved entertainmentit gave them somewhere to go, something to talk about, something to take their minds off the humdrum days of their humdrum lives. He excelled at divining the desires of his audience and creating just the spectacles they'd flock to see. And, he knew that the buildup to a show was just as important as the actual performance.
Barnum knew that the right kind of promotion was critical to the success of the showand that every event and every happening called for its own particular approach to its own particular audience. What P.T. Barnum knew best of all was that to pull in an audience, you have to reach out the hook and reel them in. You need the right hawker out there, enticing the crowd. You have to make them notice, make them wonder, and get them to follow their curiosity right into the tent. P.T. Barnum may not have heard of the term yet, but he was the Master of Marketing.
While the basic principles of marketing may not have changed drastically from Barnum's days, the global big top has increased dramatically in size. Entertainment drove more than $500 billion in worldwide revenue in the year 2000more bucks than Barnum could ever have ballyhooed his way. And, given that figure has been rising every year for the last decade, odds are that the dollars will continue to pile up.
Today, there are a lot more Barnums, many more tents, and innumerable hawkers out there shouting for our attention. In fact, the din has been raised to the point that, in order to lure us into the tent, entertainment marketing itself has turned into a form of entertainment all its own?a virtual sideshow of technology, celebrity, and bells and whistles. And the big top? Sometimes it seems as though we're destined to live under one tent, supplied by one fast food company, one software company, and one entertainment company. But for now, we're somewhere in between Barnum and BizCorpGlobal.
Entertainment Takes the Stage
Entertainment as an industry has shown steady growth since P.T. Barnum's day. While the first big kick occurred in the early part of the 20th Century, when movies appeared on the scene, the true explosion of entertainment came in the post-World War II era. Movie moguls enjoyed a relatively cornered market in pre-war times; Hollywood was the center of attention, given that technology had not yet reared its intriguing head in the form of television. The favorite at-home form of entertainment was radio, which had grown from crystal sets in the attic to decorative cabinets in the living room, with the family gathered `round for an evening of music and programming.
Then the world turned upside down.
From V-Day to V-Chip
Outside the palm-lined streets of Hollywood, the world was in transformation. While the United States slowly crawled out of the Depression through a series of government-related programs, other parts of the globe found themselves under different influences. The poor and starving in Europe and Japan turned their eyes toward leaders who promised a new and glittering future, born out of the rising of the masses, the extermination of undesirables, the acquisition of historic land holdingswhatever it took to build a power base.
It was only a matter of time before the global cauldron boiled over. World War II arrived, and with it, a sociological and technological upheaval unlike any that came before. Women worked outside the home en masse for the first time in modern history, tasting economic freedom. Backed by huge infusions of war-driven government dollars, industry and technology leapfrogged forward. By the time Johnnie came marching home, the wheels were in motion for a vastly different society than before the war. The economy stayed in overdrive: paychecks grew fatter, workdays shorter. In the midst of this economic growth, families boomed. And most important, the seeds of technology, sown in strategic advances in science and communication, spawned the beginnings of a technological revolution.
As usual in the history of humankind, these advances ultimately found their greatest source of revenue in the entertainment of the masses.
The tidal wave of the good life in America broke free from both coasts of the U.S. and sped toward Europe and the Pacific. Infused by the dollars of the Marshall Plan in Europe and a combination of American investment and Japanese vision in Japan, the economies of both theaters of war returned to and surpassed pre-war peaks. The advancement of technology was at first overshadowed by hard goods, but by the late 1950s and early 1960s, the roots of a technological revolution were in place.
The sociological revolution was already in full swing. Back in the U.S., Levitt and Sons Construction Company built the first mass-produced town of 17,000-plus cloned homes, completed in 1951. Suddenly, communities were sprouting up where cornfields once stood. The "starter homes" soon included not only radios, but also the new technology: television. Right down the block, in the brand-new strip mall, a new cinema broke ground. Money was good, jobs became plentiful, and the masses, moving to the suburbs, more time and money on their hands, were eager to find new ways to spend both.
Entertainment exploded. The convergence of discretionary time, disposable income, and especially, advancing technology put the entertainment bandwagon into overdrive in the second half of the 20th Century. With time on their hands, money in their pockets, and a general sense of a great good life, the varied peoples of the American public demanded and received distraction.
The entertainment industry, sensing the moment at hand, kicked up another notch and cranked out movies, TV programs, and music, managing not only to bypass the barriers of Korea, McCarthy, and Vietnam, but to actually take advantage of them. The widening split between far left and far rightnot to mention the mass in the middle?opened up huge new niches, and all areas of entertainment were quick to exploit the opportunities.
The individual entertainment segments thrived. Movies jumped from the silver screen to cathode ray tubes, at first simply showing up on network TV. Then, that quick-thinking upstart, Ted Turner, purchased the MGM film library for TNT and the rush was on. Movies became the staple content that drove the initial boom of the cable industry, through new concepts such as Home Box Office (HBO) and Showtime, later joined by offshoots such as American Movie Classics, Independent Film Channel, Bravo, Starz, and more. The home consumer gained control with Betamax, then video home system (VHS), then digital versatile disc (DVD), opening yet another channel of distribution, to be followed later by satellite TV, movies on-demand, and pay-per-view.
Television found the mother lode in the advent of cable, erupting from three networks to hundreds of channels, thousands of programs, and unlimited dollars, with the syndication of hit network series providing an afterlife for audience favorites. With the introduction of VHS players, then recorders, television became tied even tighter to the studios, which finally took the leap into developing their own programs, side by side with feature films.
Craving even more content, cable blasted sports from the sleepy backwater province of local stadiums to satellite transmissions, beaming one "America's Team" after another into cities, towns, and suburbs with no local heroes of their own. Sports figures became superstars overnight, with salaries to match. Leagues that simply provided a skeleton for competition became cultures, with fans fixated on licensed logo-wear. The NFL and NBA became icons, usurping baseball as a point of passion for millions.
And music? Set free from small venues and unchained from the scratchy airwaves of AM radio and vinyl records, music found new power in the surging market of compact discs (CDs) and superstar performers who mounted global tours with semis carting towers of speakers and tons of technology from one stadium to another, selling out wherever they traveled. The backlash to such overabundance?alternative music?turned into its own powerhouse.
Even sleepy publishing, once the haven for a few magazine titles and that old-fashioned medium, books, suddenly sprang to life as publishers found that niche markets could provide a base of readership never before considered. In a few short decades, the magazine market grew to over 20,000 titles, as it seemed that every individual on the face of the earth could find some periodical that would focus on his or her own particular passion.
Then came the personal computer (PC), possibly the single most important advancement in the field of entertainmentalthough the full power of this technology is yet to be seen. PCs have made possible the electronic game industry, which now exceeds movies in yearly revenue. And the Interneta whole new revolution in entertainmentis becoming the conduit for downloadable music (MPEGs, Napster), movies, and Web sites for every conceivable form of entertainment, driving even more revenue from youthful consumers who recently proclaimed that they would much rather spend their hours in front of their computer than a television. Why? Because it's interactive?because the consumer now has the power to communicate with the entertainment. No less an entertainment powerhouse than Time Warner discovered the strength of the Internet, whenunthinkableAOL bought the company for $183 billion.
Finally, we have TiVo? (a service that allows consumers to digitally record content for viewing at a later date, sans commercials), video on-demand, and digital movies replacing traditional film, allowing for the transmission of movies as well as live performances. The expansion of entertainment brands into branded entertainment destinations completes the cycle that started with local venues and grew to national and international distribution. It now returns to something that people can experience personally, one-on-onenot just in theme parks, but in facilities down the street and around the corner.
What has been the driving force between this explosion, this convergence, this intertwined knot of entertainment mediums that blends from one conduit to another? Mr. Barnum's basics: entertainment marketing. It has also been the realization that the public has a hunger for stimulation, a desire to identify with something larger, a need to feed themselves with images and sounds and sights?that vehicles must be created to take each individual product and catapult it above the din that engulfs today's consumer.
Serious Competition for Serious Money
Competition for the consumer's interest has now reached Olympian levels. Traditional marketing channels such as TV, print, and outdoor advertising are becoming saturated; promoters are constantly in search of new ways to spread the word. As always, necessity has been busy mothering invention, so just when it seems there isn't one more square inch of turf that can be covered by adsairport baggage carousels, supermarket floors, subway stationstechnology rears its intriguing head. Advertisers can now insert a digital image overlay into the broadcast of nearly anything. So, for example, instead of relying on the local stadium camera to pick up the ad plastered over the box seats, promoters can now simply patch a digitized image wherever they want it, and change it in seconds.
Today's consumer is faced with an estimated 3,000 marketing messages daily. Therefore, the successful marketer must create a message that truly draws away from the pack. And, when it comes to entertainment marketing, the best way to do that is to create a message that becomes entertaining in and of itselfone that creates its own "wannasee," buzz, word-of-mouth momentumreversing Marshall McLuhan's groundbreaking thoughts on the medium as the message in the span of one short generation.
The stakes in this race grow higher yearly. At the close of the Millennium, for the year 1999, the entertainment industries generated $250 billion across the eight major sectors to be covered in this book: movies, home video, broadcast, cable, music, publishing, sports, and electronic games (see Table A-1).
|Sector||1990 U.S.||1999 U.S.||1999 World|
|Home video, DVD||13.6||16.4||32.6|
As the second leading U.S. export, the entertainment industry sells an equal amount abroad, generating nearly $500 billion on a worldwide scale. According to Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), entertainment is the only U.S.-based industry in which there is a trade surplus, not deficit. Therefore, it is no surprise that today's entertainment moguls are focused on issues of fair trade, including NAFTA, the European Union, and China's recent entry into the World Trade Organization. In today's world, with information moving at the speed of light, both domestic and international distribution are criticaland marketing even more so.
The 50,000-Foot View
Entertainment marketing left second-class status in its rear-view mirror decades ago, and as a result, created a heavily trafficked marketplace constantly faced with the collision of time, money, and changing trends. How does entertainment marketing differ from other forms of promotion? Consider these factors:
- Entertainment marketing is consumed with speedthere is little or no time to test-market before release, before one source or another gets word of the buzz on a project and broadcasts it to the world at large.
- Every film and CD is a new product, and each one is different: different content, different audiences, different deal structures. There may be two or threeor tenof these products released every week, yet every campaign must hit the target on the money, on time.
- With film, any misfireany hint of bad box officemust be counteracted immediately, since the window of first-run distribution is only three to four weeks.
- Budgets for entertainment marketing can be hugethe average marketing budget for a film that costs between $50 and $100 million to produce is between $25 and $40 millionbut the burn rate extremely high, with much of the budget being spent during the six- to eight-week period just before and during the film's theatrical release dates.
- While entertainment marketing shares the search for the right genre with its more traditional cousin, the production of entertainment content is based totally on creativity; therefore, it is fraught with the possibilities of human frailties. Production and release dates can change with the sneeze of a star. Bringing a product to market often combines a fine balance of crossed fingers and creative finagling.
- Entertainment marketing first focuses on selling an experience rather than an object. The audience must first buy into the event, before the sale of objects associated with that encountera highly desirable outcome, not to mention revenue streamcan occur.
- Entertainment is subject to the same whims and vagaries as fashion. Trends and styles change; with the pre-production planning and strategizing stretching out years before actual release, entertainment producers must strive to catch the wave before it crashes into the cliffs of consumer apathy.
- Award showsnot within the control of the marketercan make or break entertainment products. Very few consumers may care what seal of approval a chair, a car, or a carton of eggs may carry, but the profitabilityor failureof a film, or an album, can rest on the opening of an envelope one evening each spring.
- The changing face of technology carries with it ever-expanding channels of distribution for entertainment products, many of which have their own particular following. Each of these channels must be addressed, and marketers must be constantly aware of the demographics involved in every new format.
- The marketing of entertainment focuses not only on the initial product itselfthe movie, the CD, the program, the sports spectaclebut also on all the associated products spun off through licensing and merchandising. Each product can launch billions of dollars in revenue, if carefully handled and strategized across all channels. In fact, licensing and merchandising revenue can widely eclipse the revenue brought in by the original event.
- The global desire for entertainment requires a universal understanding of the language needed to promote the product, both locally and internationally.
Keep in mind that every single one of these factors impacts every single entertainment productabove and beyond all of this is the single biggest challenge facing every release and every promotion: competition from all other forms of entertainment.
Think about it: your blockbuster movie, weighing in at $150 million, is not being released into an entertainment vacuum. The scenario is much the opposite. Your baby is being thrown right into the bathwater, along with that week's new CD release(s), big author publication(s), video game(s), must-see TV show(s), playoff game(s)oh, and the other studio's big behemoth. Each and every one of these products is duking it out for the eyes, ears, and wallets of the consumer. Your job is to find a way to bring it to the very front of the consumer's consciousness.
As a marketing professional, you have many weapons in your arsenal: print, network TV, cable, radio, Internet, billboards, bus posters, skywriters, and costumed characters roaming the street of every city in the U.S., Europe, South America, Africa, India, and Australia. Most likely, if your baby truly is a blockbuster, you have a budget the size of a first-tier athlete's contract. If not, you're faced with the opportunity to become the golden child of the industry by creating a guerilla campaign aimed at knocking the consumer's socks off. In any case, you're about to join a long line of folks who have come before you, eager to parlay their product into the season's big hitin any way they can.
The March of Marketing
Marketing money has been the fertilizer that has fed the entertainment industry for over a century. But entertainment promotion wasn't always the prima donna it is today. The growth of entertainmentand the marketing of the sameclimbed steadily in the last half of the last century. Prior to that, peddling distraction to the masses was a cottage industry. Part of this was due to the fact that the consumer base was made up of people who had been born very close to the introduction of electricity into the home, so the novelty of the various diversions themselves, coupled with the public's desire to be entertained, carried the entertainment industry along on its own impetus. Even during the height of the Great Depression, people flocked to the theaters, eager to relieve themselves of the grim darkness that surrounded day-to-day life.
During this period of infancy, the concepts of branding, brand promotion, and brand extension were hardly even a twinkle in the eyes of promoters. There were no stars in Hollywood in the early daysMary Pickford, the first movie celebrity, was known only as the "girl with the golden curls" until someone noticed that more people attended movies that featured that shining halo. If anything, the studios themselves became known for the types of entertainment they excelled at?MGM musicals, Mack Sennett comedies?and the stable of stars under contract. The idea of individual idols controlling the destiny of a feature was several decades off.
The upshot of this was that producers spent their money on the development of the product and the distribution deal rather than any of the widespread media blanketing we see today. After all, the media itself consisted of newspapers, magazines, and radio, and each of these conduits was primarily local or regional in nature. A producer could rely on a few well-placed announcements prior to the opening of a movie to drive the audience into the theater. Even "word of mouth" carried less weight, given that these words stayed in the neighborhood, with very little in the way of rapid communication available to the mass public. The occasional bomb could actually be fine-tuned before it reached general release, with no one the wiser. Life was good for the movie moguls.
For instance, in the early days of the Golden Age of Entertainmentthe 20th Centuryradio and print somewhat peacefully co-existed from a marketing revenue perspective, blissfully sharing the budgets of local merchants. As entertainment mediums, each had its strong suit; print articles or ads, for instance, could be torn out, or at least carried along during commutes. While radio didn't leave anything physical in its wake, its content could be targeted to different parts of the day. So, radio and print rolled along, content in the knowledge that neither one was stealing much thunderor advertising dollarsfrom the other.
Along came movies, and the stakes began to rise. Movies pulled people away from home radio and the printed page, but movies were not, in and of themselves, marketing mediums. In fact, they were a bonanza that worked and played well with the others. After all, theater listings provided a great source of ad revenues to print, as well as radio. Then there were all of those stories to be told about the stars of the daygreat fodder for listeners and readers, and a great basis for a whole new genre of publications: fan magazines. A pretty happy little universe out there: Mom in the kitchen, listening to the radio while she did the dishes; Dad checking out the evening paper; the whole family taking in a movie on Friday nightin and of itself a new trend in socializationand radio, print, and film sharing the marketing wealth. On the licensing side, studios began to realize the power of the brands their movies had become and started churning out tie-insand dollarsthrough licensing, creating a stream of consumables for every release: tee-shirts, toys, travel mugstrinkets by the trillions.
Then came television, and with it a marketing battle for the wallet bulge that expanded with the introduction of every new medium, each leap in technology producing yet another industry fearfully looking over its shoulder, concerned that the revenue from advertising would be stolen by the new kid in town. Early TV programs started the trend as sponsors flocked to the new medium, just as they had in radio's early days.
Just when the movie marketers were feeling pretty content with their ability to get folks out of the house and into the theaters, the small screen started beckoning consumers back into their living rooms. "Free" TV, funded by the dollars flowing in from commercials and sponsorship, looked as if it might kill the golden goose of the silver screen. So, movie marketers started to crank up their efforts with giveaways, loyalty programs, more ads in print, and more spots on radio. They turned up the gossip just a notch or two as wellhey, sex always sellsoh, and they produced better quality films. Movie sales climbed back up, and the marketers breathed a sigh of relief.
Next it was TV's turn. While networks jumped from genre to genrewesterns, detectives, doctors, shows about poor people moving to rich neighborhoods and rich people moving to poor neighborhoods, game shows, soap operasthe American public seemed content to while away their hours switching between three networks. The networks were relatively delighted to split the ad revenue, although each did their best to make sure its portion was greater than the other two. Marketing for each of the networks pretty much relied on the usual suspects as neededprint, print, or printalong with a few spots on the network itself, utilizing undersold space.
Then came cable. "Hogwash!!" the industry shouted, "People will never pay for TV when they can get it for FREE!" No, and they would never buy sliced bread or trade in old Bessie for one of those horseless carriages, either.
Never doubt the consumer's desire for choice.
Suddenly, network TV found itself in the position of needing to lure viewersand keep advertisersand the entertainment marketing volume turned up another notch. The powers that be finally realized that the advertising plugs on their own networks were reaching viewers that were already watching and started looking for more innovative ways to reach the publicincluding better quality programming.
Ah, but cable TV found its comeuppance as well. It was not only the networks that fought back; VHS made inroads into the sacred cable turf of both recentrelease movies and old favorites, and then came DVD. Now, cable was forced to push its way through the crowd of virtual pitchmen, trying to lure customers/viewers/guests to keep those subscriptions rolling in and the advertisers happy. Up went the marketing meter one more time, and with it the quality of the offering, as premium providers began producing their own movies and series.
Then, just when the consumer thought life was complete in the old recliner, remote in hand, 500 channels at the ready, stations streaming in via cable and satellite, SHAZAM!!here came the home computer, followed by re-writeable CDs, downloadable digital music and Napster, and electronic games, which overtook movies in yearly revenuesall through the power of the positive pitch. Suddenly there were two small screens in the home battling it out for marketing bucks, with banner ads and hyperlinks crisscrossing Web sites all over the Internet.
Meanwhile, over in the music aisle, a flat-lining vinyl-based industry took a little bump from cassettes, but met manna from heaven in the form of CDs. Marketers shifted gears, pushing new releases of new music right alongside new releases of old music, surfing a wave of hype touting better audio quality and lifetime durability. Music executives, looking for ways to further increase revenues, began to drill further and further into niche markets, expanding the horizons into hip-hop, rap, country/western, blues, R&B, hard rock, heavy metal, Christian, world music, classical, jazz, new ageeach and every niche accompanied by its own army of ads in every medium appropriate to the demographic.
And sports? Baseball felt the fire of the NFL on its tail; the NBA exploded in a mushroom cloud of teams; hockey dipped out of the cold northern climes and into such faraway places as Miami and Dallas; arena football, World Cup soccer, golf, tennisall of it consumed the American populace until it seemed as though we were surrounded by one great slamma-jamma-smashmouth-empty-the-benches rivalry, fed and watered by the most competitive teams in our society, the ad agencies. And who could have predicted the World Wrestling Foundation, flexing its massive merchandising muscles?
So, here we sit, with the entertainment marketing volume turned to max, messages coming in through network TV, bus shelters, radio spots, online advertising, telemarketing, bulk mail, subway cards, giveaways, print ads, blimps, stickers, cereal boxes, sponsored music tours, branded arenaseverything but the bat silhouette streaking across the sky of Gotham City. Through all of this ongoing battle for every last cent the consumer has to spend, not one medium has gone out of business. Yes, there have been mergers, acquisitions, and realignments, but the bottom line is this: Revenues continue to grow in every single area of entertainment, including those for entertainment marketing, as everyone screams for our attention and mediums feed on one another in one great big consumer campaign for brand loyalty.
Much of this continued health and phenomenal growth can be traced to the ability of the marketing gurus to understand not only who their audience is, but who it might be. It isn't enough to simply plug, plug, and re-plug a product to the existing consumer base. Growth occurs only when that base can be expanded. Entertainment is the perfect industry for an expansion-based modelespecially in a world with more time and income on its hands.
Broadening the Business
The shift from an industrial economy to a service-based economy had a huge impact on the domestic audience. More service-oriented businessesnot the least of which were the fast food joints springing up everywhere in sightcalled for more workers. More and more of those workers came from younger age groups. More youth with more jobs meant more disposable income in the hands of a demographicthe 18- to 24-year-oldsthat spend a higher percentage of their time socializing in the modern version of the mating ritual. And, entertainment destinations are the perfect place to take a date.
Marketing executives, poring over their research, recognized this trend and leaped on it. The content base of the message began to widen toward different age groups. It then widened even further as research brought to light the differing desires of males versus females as regards entertainment content. It grew further still as the research became even more sophisticated and began to focus on marital status, income, ethnicity, lifestyles, philosophical beliefs, dietin short, slicing and dicing into hundreds of nicheseach creating yet another opportunity to develop new and innovative marketing approaches. Action movie figure with your latte, sir?
As the public fed on the ever-widening buffet of entertainment choices, the appetite for inside information grew. What started out in the 1920s and 1930s as gossip, a la Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, has morphed into cocktail conversation and barroom banter. What was once a two-inch bit in the back of the financial pages, or a splashy story in some fanzine rag, is now the cover story for Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report, the lead story on the business page, and a full-length article in the Sunday magazine. Fanzines have become an independent industry, with People, InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, Premier, US, Rolling Stone, Vibe, Blaze, and Spin; more than half a dozen movie screen magazines and five soap opera periodicals, all geared to lay bare the lifestyles of the rich and famous celebrities in every avenue of entertainment.
The spotlight is no longer focused solely on the stars, either. In fact, the line has become very fuzzy since the mogul has stepped out from behind the scenes. It's hard to say who got more press in the late 1990s: Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise or Michael Eisner and Michael Ovitz. The failure of any number of heavy-hitting films took a back seat to the barbarians-at-the-gate appeal of studio takeovers and media mergers. Entertainment is big business and big press, from regular reports of box office revenues to bestseller lists to weekly ratings of network TV shows. And, don't forget the expectations for seasonal success from video retailers and suppliers. All of thisand much moreis explored in the mainstream press as well as in trade publications such as Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Broadcast & Cable, Electronic Media, and hundreds of other magazines examining every aspect of each of the sectors.
So here we are at the doorstep of the 21st Century, in a world that has been well-schooled in the pleasures of both in- and out-of-home entertainment, surrounded by a population that has grown used to having the ability to choose among hundreds of entertainment opportunities. The marketing professional of today operates in an industry consumed by louder, faster, bigger, and brighter to reach an audience on choice overload. In short, entertainment marketing is not a career for the indecisive, the incompatible, or the inexperienced. With over $500 billion in total revenue at stake, today's entertainment marketing professional must be fully aware of the mistakes of the past and the opportunities of the future, and be able to combine the knowledge of the two to produce something extraordinary.
But be warned: If you think the entertainment industry is a glitzy, fun business, full of ski-slope weekends and fabulous Mondays at Morton's, you're rightfor about one-tenth of one percent of the population that makes up the toilers and scrapers of the industry. For everyone else, it's a shin-skinning climb up a greased power pyramid, each and every one of the contestants willing to do his or her worst to get to the top. And what do you do once there? Being at the top is the closest experience you can have to jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. It's high-stakes, high-speed, and high-riskand for very few, high-rewards.
Still want to get into the tent? Well, step right up, ladies and gents. You pay your money, you take your chances.
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