CAMPAIGNS: 'Blood Work' finds way to tap pulse of US Latin audience

PR Team: Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA) and S+S Communications (Irvine, CA) Campaign: Blood Work Time Frame: June-August 2002 Budget: $50,000-$60,000

PR Team: Warner Bros. (Burbank, CA) and S+S Communications (Irvine, CA) Campaign: Blood Work Time Frame: June-August 2002 Budget: $50,000-$60,000

Hollywood has grown savvy in recent years when it comes to marketing niche pictures to ethnic audiences, but mainstream flicks rarely get the same kind of multicultural promotion. When actor and director Clint Eastwood was making Blood Work, however, he stayed true to the characters in the Michael Connelly book the film was based on, and cast Latino actors in two key roles. Paul Rodriguez plays an investigator, and Wanda de Jesus won the role of Eastwood's love interest; the sister of a murdered woman who also happens to be the heart donor to the retired FBI agent played by Eastwood. Hoping to give the film an extra box-office boost, Eastwood himself insisted that distributor Warner Bros. promote the film to Latino audiences. The studio enlisted the help of S+S Communications. Strategy S+S wanted to reach out specifically to urban areas with high Latino populations, utilizing Spanish-language media to raise awareness of the film. Since Blood Work wasn't the type of movie normally marketed to the target audience (it lacked any sort of Latin story line), S+S instead concentrated on highlighting the two Latino actors, and the importance of having them cast in a mainstream Hollywood film. "It wasn't as much pitching the stars as it was pitching the movie as important to the Latino community, stressing the importance of a Latina actress in a starring role with Clint Eastwood," explains S+S partner Sheryl Pearl. "The movie highlighted the important role Latinos play in the US today." Tactics Pearl and her partner Sandra Eckardt made a 35-page media list of target broadcast and print outlets, and set the goal of getting coverage in at least 85% of them. After researching Latino demographics, they created a plan of first- and second-tier cities in which to concentrate their efforts. Large Latino populations in obvious places such as LA were approached first, with smaller markets such as San Jose, CA given attention later on. The team then put together both a video and audio press kit, which included interviews with de Jesus and Rodriguez. They especially targeted radio, and joined in with local-market events around the US - such as concerts - to promote the film. "That's one of the real key ways to get to the Hispanic market," says Eckardt of the focus on radio. They also arranged for members of the Hispanic press to attend junkets and screenings, and approached talk shows and morning shows on Spanish-language networks such as Univision and Telemundo. Results While Blood Work took in only $26 million at the box office, the cities targeted by S+S showed above-average ticket sales. "[Film producers] Malpaso Productions and Warner Bros. confirmed that the cities we were targeting had significant spikes [in ticket sales]," says Eckardt, stressing the importance of measurable results. And Eastwood was also happy with the work. "When we did the premiere, he came up to us and gave us a big hug. His publicist said, 'You just scored,'" she adds. In addition, S+S exceeded its 85% goal, instead getting placements with 100% of the targeted outlets. That included a one-and-a-half-hour interview between Eastwood and top Spanish-language DJ "El Cucuy." "Clint had never done an interview that long," says Eckardt. "He told his publicist that it was one of the best interviews he's done in his career." Future S+S has been hired to handle Latino publicity for Mystic River, a Warner Bros. film directed by Eastwood and starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon. Mystic River will open later this year.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in