Phonemaker backs doc on fest circuit

It can be tough for independent films to break out and get exposure, but “Rock Prophecies,” a docu about rock ‘n’ roll photographer Robert M. Knight, is getting a lot of help from Samsung Mobile.

Phonemaker is backing the pic, helmed by John Chester and produced by Tim Kaiser, on the festival circuit as a way to generate awareness for its new high-end Memoir handset, which features a built-in 8-megapixel camera.

Company is pushing the phone in cities where the docu is being screened at festivals. Marketing effort started with the docu’s premiere at the AFI Dallas Intl. Film Festival in March and runs through Labor Day.

Pic revolves around the photog’s quest to find himself and the world’s great new guitar player and features interviews and performances from Jeff Beck, ZZ Top, Carlos Santana, Slash, Def Leppard, Sick Puppies and Cheap Trick.

Samsung had been looking for a way to promote its new point-and-shoot digital camera, available through T-Mobile, and felt pairing up with a film about a photographer was a perfect fit — especially an indie film, considering the phone isn’t targeting the mass market.

“We thought it was a perfect way to get our message across of what our phone can do, especially for the audience we’re trying to reach,” said Bill Ogle, chief marketing officer for Samsung Mobile.

Tie-in will help promote the phone in key local markets, through retail and online ads and special events, while helping boost awareness for the film.

Although Samsung ponied up a portion of the film’s production costs, the phone does not appear in the film. Company only gets a mention in the end credits.

“We’re doing our best to support him and what he’s trying to do as an artist,” Ogle said. “We said, let’s build a relationship with him and see where it goes.”

Where it will go is a blog that Knight will launch about his experiences using the touch-screen phone’s camera and its capabilities. He has also been talking up the phone during photography classes he teaches or on panels at festivals.

Ongoing effort and tie-in with the film enables Samsung to build a campaign for its new phone that lasts for six months rather than the traditional one-month hype fest that usually launches around a new handset rollout.

It’s an example of the types of deals Madison Avenue and its brands are looking to pursue as marketing budgets get tighter.

Samsung wouldn’t disclose numbers, but Ogle said the tie-in has already started paying off, with the $250 phone selling well in the local markets where the pic has been playing.

“The film has been helping us a lot, with sales way up in those markets,” Ogle said.

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