PR Team:Edelman (New York) and Hallmark Entertainment (New York)Campaign:DinotopiaTime Frame:November 2001- May 2002Budget:$82,000
Hallmark is known for producing epic miniseries such as last year's Merlin and Gulliver's Travels. But it outdid itself with Dinotopia - a computer-graphics-intensive movie about dinosaurs and humans interacting.
"Dinotopia was Hallmark's biggest production to date," explains Edelman senior account supervisor Bridget Klein, who helped handle promotions. "The main objective was to drive viewership," but she adds that Hallmark also hoped to create a Dinotopia franchise that could lead to other brand opportunities.
Edelman was hired months in advance of the show's May premiere in order to build buzz. With their long lead-time, Klein and her team quickly saw multiple avenues to build excitement. The audience was very broad - "anyone from ages two to 99," says Klein. That allowed Edelman to reach various audiences with broad tactics in some areas, and specific targets in others.
Edelman's first effort centered on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, where Hallmark sponsored a float. Joey McIntyre, the youngest member of '80s boy band New Kids on the Block, was the featured singer on the float, and did many pre-event interviews. "We got in touch with Joey's manager and gave him some key messages about Dinotopia," says Klein. "In all pre-parade interviews, he mentioned that he was going to be on the Dinotopia float."
At the same time, Edelman began a website and online campaign with paid placements that made Dinotopia the first site that appeared on search engines when about two-dozen dinosaur-related words were entered as search terms.
Then, with the help of ABC's publicity team (the network aired the show), Edelman began focusing efforts on the press. "We started doing the basic media relations and news-bureau outreach, from long-lead magazines to weeklies to national television," says Klein. Edelman also specifically targeted science-fiction outlets, where news of Dinotopia had already spread. "There are some terrific sci-fi magazines out there that have a million readers. Our goal was to get the most magazine covers we could," says Klein.
As the debut neared, Klein's team also helped plan a premiere party at the Museum of Natural History, where cast members mingled with press and watched a preview of the show. "It helped get the buzz in full gear," says Klein of the gala. "The best thing was that Liz Smith came to the party and wrote the most amazing review I've ever seen in her column the following day."
Edelman also planned an SMT with cast members, and events with the author of the book on which Dinotopia was based with Disney radio programs in selected markets.
Not only did Dinotopia get good ratings and a ton of press, but ABC turned it into a weekly program debuting on Thursday nights this fall. The miniseries pulled in enough viewers to become the second-highest-rated miniseries with three or more parts in more than three years.
Edelman played a big part in that success, helping generate more than 25 entertainment book covers in newspapers (including The New York Times), along with many magazine and broadcast stories. "Getting the TV Guide cover was huge," says Klein. "We kept sending photos, they kept saying, 'It's not really a TV Guide cover,' and we'd say 'OK, well, we have some other graphics.' It was hard pitching."
Dinotopia also received seven Emmy nominations - the most for Hallmark in four years - and won in the category of outstanding visual effects for a miniseries.
While ABC has taken over publicity now that Dinotopia is a weekly series, Edelman looks forward to Hallmark's next project. "We have a great relationship with them," says Klein. "We are staying in touch to see what the next big program will be."