Client: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment (Los Angeles)
Agency: Hill+Knowlton Strategies (Los Angeles)
Campaign: 50th Anniversary of Cleopatra
Duration: March 2013 – December 2013
Budget: $250,000 (includes partner support)
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and AOR Hill+Knowlton Strategies ran a multifaceted campaign celebrating the 50th anniversary and the Blu-ray release of the digitally restored iconic film Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
"In our home entertainment world, we’re curators and guardians of the studio legacy," says Mary Daily, president and CMO of worldwide marketing for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. "We’re always looking at how we can bring some of the spectacular gems we have in our library to consumers in new and different ways. There’s a generation of people who had heard of the film and never seen it, so the 50th anniversary gave us the opportunity to engage a new consumer."
Partnerships with multiple organizations and companies that are relevant to the film helped drive messaging through numerous channels.
Partners included The Elizabeth Taylor Trust, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Cinecittà Studios, and Bulgari. Burton commissioned many original pieces from Bulgari for Taylor, and Bulgari acquired much of Taylor’s jewelry collection after she died.
"Cleopatra is one of the most incredible movies ever made in terms of ambition, scale, and scope," Daily says. "Plus there’s the legacy around the film, including the Burton and Taylor love story, the awards it won, its cost and box office success, and the influence it had on fashion and designers. By tying in the right partners and leveraging our equity together on a subject that’s so rich, we were able to really make the release relevant to modern audiences and drive the message that we were bringing this film to consumers in a way they’ve never seen it before."
The campaign kicked off March 1, 2013, when Richard Burton got a posthumous star (next to Taylor’s star) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. National and local media were invited to the event, which was also promoted by the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, the Wales government, and on social media channels. The Richard Burton Company is the Royal Welsh College’s in-house theater company.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment’s digital agency ThinkJam handled blogger and social media outreach throughout the campaign.
The team and Bulgari hosted a tour for fashion and beauty press April 30 to May 3 in London and Rome. London activities included interviews with a Fox executive, a visit to Bulgari’s gem workshop, and a stay at the London Bulgari Hotel. In Rome journalists toured Cinecittà Studios, where scenes from Cleopatra were filmed, and Bulgari’s Condotti flagship store, which houses Taylor’s jewelry collection.
The Blu-ray was released May 21. On the same day, the restored film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
Actress and Bulgari spokesperson Jessica Chastain hosted a reception at the festival wearing pieces of Taylor’s jewelry from Bulgari’s collection. Additional pieces of Taylor’s Bulgari jewelry and original costumes from the film were displayed at the event.
"We engaged a global audience [at Cannes], and our partnership with Bulgari gave us access to hot young talent to support the premiere and attract major media coverage," says agency VP Amanda White.
The team then promoted the limited release of the film in more than 200 theaters worldwide (May 22 to May 26).
Media outreach continued through December. Angles included promoting the December 11 Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels Auction, where Cleopatra-inspired earrings created by Bulgari were auctioned to benefit The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
The week of May 27, the 50th anniversary Blu-ray edition of Cleopatra was the top-selling title in its category in the US.
"Because we had [an extended] celebration, the Blu-ray title sold at a steady pace throughout the year, and sales continue to exceed expectations on a worldwide basis," Daily says.
More than 400 stories ran in outlets such as Cosmopolitan, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, Lucky Magazine, Vanity Fair, Women's Wear Daily, Access Hollywood, E! News, Extra, Reuters, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, The Wall Street Journal, Parade, People, OK!, and Us Magazine.
The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation received $42,000 (more than double the expectation) from the Sotheby’s auction.
The team will promote new home entertainment releases this spring, including The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Daily’s team also manages MGM’s library, and she says campaigns are in the works for MGM’s 90th anniversary and Fox Searchlight’s 20th anniversary.
The fantastic array of partners assembled for this campaign really helped extend the conversation around the film’s 50th anniversary by delivering rich and varied engagement points throughout the year. The film and the lore around it certainly provide rich subject matter, and this team found numerous avenues to celebrate that in ways relevant to both long-time fans and modern audiences. A shorter, more modest campaign would have seemed incongruent given the film’s impact both in its day and in the legacy it created. And the scope and length of the campaign undoubtedly bolstered sales. This campaign also served to reinforce the studio’s strength and history of taking risks that pay off.