Groups play on films' Oscar buzz to win press attention

LOS ANGELES: Tapping into consumer enthusiasm for Oscar-nominated films, seemingly everyone from the city of Santa Barbara to nonprofits focusing on African genocide is using ties to such movies as the path to a little media attention.

LOS ANGELES: Tapping into consumer enthusiasm for Oscar-nominated films, seemingly everyone from the city of Santa Barbara to nonprofits focusing on African genocide is using ties to such movies as the path to a little media attention.

One of the most successful of these efforts has been waged by the Santa Barbara, CA, Conference & Visitors Bureau (SBCVB) and is tied to best-picture contender Sideways, filmed at wineries and restaurants in the region. The SBCVB centered its campaign on a map of locations used in the movie, as well as on screenings of the film at local venues and travel trade shows. It resulted in more than 94 editorial placements nationally and an increase in local tourism, said communications manager Shannon Turner.

"It's the gift from the PR gods," she said. "We couldn't have asked for a better promotional vehicle."

Tying its marketing fortunes to The Aviator, the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon, which houses Howard Hughes' famous Spruce Goose airplane, has also created Oscar-themed events and press releases, boosting daily visitors by more than 700 people a day.

"The Evergreen Aviation Museum has been really honored to be a part of this process," said the museum's collection director, Katherine Huit.

On a more somber note, Hotel Rwanda, which deals with genocide in that country, has inspired multiple social marketing efforts. The United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme created an international aid fund, and did PR around it to attract attention. The Save Darfur Coalition created a "Hotel Darfur" campaign that asked volunteers to approach patrons coming out of Hotel Rwanda screenings and give them information and ways to take grassroots action.

"It's a wonderful time to give people an opportunity to respond," said Dave Rubenstein, Save Darfur Coalition coordinator. "While they are feeling their compassion and the pain of the people in the movie, they can translate that into action."

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