NBCU Uses Ticket Sales in Pitch for Hollywood Ad Dollars

Fandango ticketing service is key behind effort to snare film dollars in tough market

The Peacock is making a play for more ad dollars from movie studios.

Starting Monday, NBCUniversal will promote the new Summit Entertainment movie, “RED2” on its USA, Syfy and E! cablers with 60-second video vignettes that are tailored for each network’s specific audience and that will prod viewers to buy tickets to the movie using NBCU-owned tickets service Fandango.com.

“All three of these pieces when they appear on air will have two things as common denominators: Opening graphics customized for each channel, including the channel logo in each one of those piece and at the end, a drive to go to Fandango to purchase your ticket,” said John Shea, chief marketing officer for NBCUniversal, in an interview. The Syfy vignette will focus on behind-the-scenes processes, such as how stunts were completed, he said, while E! will put a spotlight on the film’s female stars including Helen Mirren. At Fandango, a video gallery will offer extended interviews with the film’s cast while the site offers chances to buy tickets to the movie in advance.

The push underscores a broadening trend in the TV business. Movie studios have long represented an important piece of the advertising that fuels its coffers, but the studios have been said to be committing less to TV in advance of its big fall season, according to ad buyers, forcing media companies to devise more creative ideas to capture advertising.

These buying executives have noted that advance advertising commitments from movie studios were down in last year’s upfront market, the period when the TV networks try to sell the bulk of their inventory for the fall season. Those commitments have also been slow in coming this year, ad buyers have said, helping to contribute to one of the more protracted upfront sessions in recent memory. Both NBCUniversal and Walt Disney’s ABC are said to still be working on selling inventory to advertisers – a process that in most years is wrapped up by mid-to-late June.

NBCU has long demonstrated a willingness to break convention to promote movies. Its broadcast network NBC has allowed promos for films from sibling Universal such as “American Gangster” or “Evan Almighty” to run along the bottom third of the screen during first-run episodes of programs like “Heroes” – obscuring the drama in the process.

“This was the first time we really went into the marketplace and said we can do a version of what we do for ourselves for you,” Shea said. While techniques such as tailored videos and customized promotions have been seen elsewhere on the set-top box, NBCU’s emphasis on Fandango is designed to get movie studios to view the company as having something distinct to offer, Shea said.

The deal with Summit is the first to be unveiled since NBCU’s ad-sales staff made a concerted tour in March to pitch its media outlets as a venue to movie-studio marketing executives. Shea said. NBCU has been making the point that it can use advertising on any number of its networks to drive Fandango-centered ticket sales, no matter whether the film is a big-tent blockbuster or a small indie film.

“We have a lot of conversations going on with a bunch of different partners,” Shea said. “Red2” is slated for a July 19 release. Summit is part of Lionsgate.

The film follows a retired black-ops agent who puts his old team of operatives back in play to thwart a cadre of threats. In addition to Mirren, the movie brings back Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Mary-Louise Parker, and also stars Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Byung-hun Lee.

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