Caines tops SPE Internet marketing group

Sony Pictures Entertainment said Tuesday it plans to ramp up its marketing efforts on the Web and go after some “Blair Witch Project” marketing gold of its own, tapping Dwight Caines veep of its newly created Internet Marketing Strategy Group.

New venture will position Sony’s inhouse marketing mavens to execute online advertising strategies alongside Columbia TriStar Interactive, which already produces individual Web sites and other interactive marketing campaigns for Sony-produced pics and TV shows.

Caines will work with CTI to develop, coordinate and implement the Internet marketing campaigns for both Columbia Pictures and Screen Gems, integrating projects across SPE’s portfolio of online properties. CTI will continue to provide the technical and design duties.

With movie marketers still trying to replicate the success of the “Blair Witch” Web site — and failing miserably — Sony’s move could signal more funding and creative manpower funneled towards the attempt.

“In the past, Worldwide Marketing had viewed CTI as the agency that would execute all of our online strategies,” Caines told Daily Variety. “This is our attempt to get very focused with how we do things online for a film. It’s not that anybody was doing anything bad. It’s that we want to get more focused, more hands-on. Online users are savvy, and we’ll always need to explore new ways to bring this audience to the box office for our films.”

Sony already operates movie Web sites to promote everything from the pic when it bows in theaters to its homevid release and other ancillary offerings, as well as sequels.

Caines will report to Robert Levin, prexy of SPE Worldwide Marketing.

Appointment marks Caines’ third promotion since joining Worldwide Marketing in 1997 as director of market research. In that post, he worked on “Men in Black,” “Air Force One,” “As Good As It Gets,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “Starship Troopers” and “Big Daddy,” using the Web to test trailers and conduct other online research efforts.

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