TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: In movie publicity, advertising and PR don'tread from the same script

Publicity and advertising are usually lumped together like milk and

cookies. In truth they mix more like oil and water. There's the

occasional half-hearted 'synergy' office meeting on Tuesday afternoons,

of course, but the two camps often circle each other like wary lions.

And communicate as well as Brad Pitt in Snatch. Maybe worse.

CEOs and studio executives may like to think there is spirited

cooperation between their publicity and advertising departments, but

anyone who has worked in the in-house or agency side of PR knows better.

They do their thing, we do ours. Should we somehow converge, it's

usually an accident.

Like finding something good on TV at 3am.

I just witnessed a fine example of this awkward coexistence. A hip

photographer from New York and his assistants (never less than three,

I've found) were scheduled to arrive on set to shoot the poster for the

movie I'm working on. These shoots always have the potential to turn

into an absolute mess.

Photographers sometimes travel halfway across the world to shoot the key

art, only to sit around the set for three days while nothing


Then they go back home with only frequent flyer miles to show for the

effort. Knowing this, I first began asking the studio two months ago if

anything was happening with advertising. Nothing in the works, I was


Until a memo appeared last Monday stating a photographer with a

three-word name was arriving in just four days to shoot ... yes, the

poster. Working with the production manager on a Friday afternoon (isn't

it always?), we scrambled to get the necessary grip gear and location

space for the shoot. Everything was prepped. Only one thing was missing:

the photographer.

Because of a visa problem he ended up arriving two days late. To make

matters worse, one of the actors he wanted to photograph was not working

that day and would not be coming to the set.

'How come no one warned us about these potential problems,' advertising

haughtily inquired. 'Because nobody bothered to talk to us about it,'

publicity angrily responded. Harrumph! The Odd Couple, Felix and Oscar,

in action.

This lack of communication and teamwork can ultimately lead to confusing

movie release campaigns. Actors and filmmakers will describe a movie in

interviews and PR materials in a much different way than is reflected in

advertising posters, trailers and TV spots. The disparity can befuddle

the audience even more than the difference between 'extra large' and

'jumbo' popcorn. And 'befuddled' is not the objective of a dollars 20

million marketing campaign.

My column must end here because the mag has sold some ad space at the

bottom of this page. At least, I think it has. It's something that ties

in with the subject. I'm not sure what. Exactly. (Oh sorry - didn't we

tell you? - Ad Dept.)

Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in