45 Years Later The Hills Are Still Alive
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45 Years Later The Hills Are Still Alive

The PR team created a far-reaching campaign resulting in enormous success, making The Sound of Music 45th Anniversary Edition the best selling live action classic film of all-time and the best selling Blu-ray musical of all-time.

Holmes Report

To generate awareness and success for the 45th Anniversary Blu-ray Disc release of one of cinema’s greatest treasures,
The Sound of Music, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment (TCFHE) and Bender/Helper Impact developed a massive publicity campaign utilizing a variety of high-profile tactics to position the film as the most exciting home entertainment release of the year. The campaign included a multi-faceted approach with many different components including a partnership with VH1’s Save the Music Foundation for their 2010 red carpet charity holiday gala, a limited time theatrical re-release of the film, a promotion with Dove Hair Care to encourage women everywhere to keep doing their favorite things and, for the first time ever, a complete cast reunion on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Applying a series of tactics including leveraging von Trapp family members and available talent, forming influential partnerships and utilizing traditional outreach methods as well as social media engagement, the PR team created a far-reaching campaign resulting in enormous success, making The Sound of Music 45th Anniversary Edition the best selling live action classic film of all-time and the best selling Blu-ray musical of all-time.

OPPORTUNITIES/ CHALLENGES

The Sound of Music 45th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Disc publicity campaign presented many opportunities: a five-time Academy Award?-winning film meticulously restored and re-mastered and packaged in a limited edition collector’s set, an adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved musical including many popular songs, and a $1+ billion (adjusted for inflation) box office hit featuring a powerful cast including Julie Andrews in her Oscar?-winning role and screen legend Christopher Plummer.

However, the PR team faced a few challenges as well: PR was charged with devising a publicity campaign that would bring measurable monetary and publicity results that were equivalent to or surpassed those of previous anniversary releases. Second, the economic downturn has significantly impacted the home entertainment industry and over the course of the past few years, daily newspapers have been eliminating their dedicated DVD column and/or DVD editors from their staff, resulting in fewer opportunities for coverage. Third, publicity was tasked with positioning The Sound of Music, a film that was initially released in the 1960s, as one that is still relevant today for audiences of all ages. Lastly, the Blu-ray Disc was released the same day as the much-anticipated Pixar film, Toy Story 3.

RESEARCH

PR felt the campaign needed to utilize several of the film’s core elements including the memorable cast, real members of the von Trapp family and enchanting music. The question became how to generate publicity exposure for the targeted audience – women and families – and where, when and how. PR decided the best approach would be to implement a multi-tiered strategy – hitting the target consumer all over the US. To kick off the campaign, a two-night only sing-along event took place at nearly 500 high profile locations nationwide (such as the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, etc) including a screening of the fully restored feature film. The PR team also looked to collaborate with an organization that would tie-in to the musical aspect of the film and have a charity component that would resonate and offer an additional media hook – VH1’s Save the Music Foundation was a natural fit. With these partnerships in place, PR began to research tactics that would generate maximum exposure for the Blu-ray Disc release, such as a one-of-a-kind cast reunion as the cast had not been together since the initial filming over 45 years ago.

STRATEGIC APPROACH

In order to generate massive consumer awareness, TCFHE focused on a few core areas: event and grassroots/social media tactics, leveraging availability of von Trapp family members and key talent associated with the film and targeted broadcast, print and online efforts. Development and implementation began approximately one year before the Blu-ray Disc hit store shelves.

EVENT/GRASSROOTS TACTICS
By partnering with NCM Fathom, a company providing groundbreaking cinema events, PR was able to bring back
The Sound of Music to select theaters for a magical two-night event on Tuesday, October 19th and Tuesday, October 26th only.
For the first time since 1973, the film appeared in 500 select theaters nationwide in stunning high definition to commemorate the beloved musical’s 45th anniversary. The event included the sing-along version of the fully restored feature with classic songs that have delighted fans for decades, such as “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “The Sound of Music,” “Edelweiss,” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” Audiences were whisked back to Salzburg for a travelogue where the classic was filmed, and treated to contemporary and surprising tributes ranging from modern dance and rock band salutes to an all-marionette version.

On Monday, November 8th, 2010 VH1’s Save The Music Foundation honored a living legend, Julie Andrews, at their holiday gala. The red carpet charity event celebrated music as a universal language that shapes our life stories and featured a special tribute to the 45th anniversary of the film including a performance inspired by the film by VH1 Save The Music Foundation Ambassador and Tony Award?-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth. In addition, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company – hosted an exclusive online auction to benefit VH1 Save The Music, entitled “My Favorite Things,” inspired by one of The Sound of Music’s signature tunes.

For the first time in 45 years, the entire cast of The Sound of Music gathered for a once-in-a-lifetime reunion on the
“The Oprah Winfrey Show” on Thursday, October 28th. Stars Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, along with fellow cast members Charmian Carr (“Liesl”), Nicholas Hammond (“Friedrich”), Heather Menzies-Urich (“Louisa”), Duane Chase (“Kurt”), Angela Cartwright (“Brigitta”), Debbie Turner (“Marta”) and Kym Karath (“Gretl”) reunited and revealed the stories behind one of the world’s favorite movie musicals. Nearly half a century later, the cast shared secrets from the set, reminisced about their time together and what their lives have been like in the years since the movie was released. Finally, the von Trapp Children, a singing group featuring members of the real von Trapp family, paid their own special tribute to the film that made their family name known throughout the world.

TCFHE and Dove collaborated to create a themed promotion that encouraged women everywhere to keep doing their favorite things. Consumers were provided with opportunities to purchase, win and experience The Sound of Music with Dove Hair Care products, with one lucky grand prize winner receiving a trip to Austria to see the picturesque Alps where the famed movie took place. The campaign centered on an exclusive “My Favorite Things” TV spot featuring a duet with “Glee” star Lea Michele and Julie Andrews which aired during major network television shows including “Dancing With The Stars,” “The Good Wife,” “The Defenders” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” The spot was also featured exclusively on “Entertainment Tonight” on October 25th.

MEDIA RELATIONS
PR utilized an aggressive traditional publicity campaign, which included outreach to national and regional broadcast and print publications, radio and online sites, with a special emphasis on women’s and family-friendly outlets and markets. By developing creative pitch angles, leveraging talent availability and implementing large-scale events, PR was able to secure coverage well beyond the DVD pages and exposure that appealed to a variety of different audiences.

SOCIAL MEDIA
Capitalizing on the popularity of the franchise, PR partnered with Rodgers & Hammerstein to directly interact with the fans through multiple social media channels – Twitter, Facebook and blogs (entertainment, moms, etc). Utilizing a series of contests, exclusive video and interviews, and content integration with all PR events and initiatives, The Sound of Music Facebook page grew from 7,000 to almost one million fans in less than nine months. On average, over 100,000 active users were engaging with the page and sharing the information with their respective networks on a daily basis.

CAMPAIGN EXECUTION

All of the tactics outlined below were developed to contribute towards two specific goals – generating awareness for the Blu-ray Disc amongst all ages and surpassing the high expectations the studio had for the release.

PR worked with renowned actress Julie Andrews and leveraged her astounding film career and recent success as a children’s book author for coverage on the “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “Today Show,” “Rachael Ray Show,” “Joan Hamburg Show,” Premiere Radio, Reuters, the New York Times Syndicate and Scholastic Child & Parent, among others.

VH1 Save the Music The Sound of Music themed holiday gala featured a packed red-carpet press line attended by numerous broadcast, radio, print and online outlets that resulted in massive coverage for the Blu-ray Disc release. In addition, Julie Andrews received an award tied to the 45th Anniversary generating increased awareness for the Blu-ray Disc among a key demographic six days after its release. Publicity highlights include “Access Hollywood,” MTV, VH1, NPR and The Hollywood Reporter, among many others.

The limited time theatrical re-release of The Sound of Music was broadcast on October 19th and October 26th in nearly 500 select movie theaters in nearly 150 locations across the country including major cities in top markets such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and Seattle, among others.

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” cast reunion reached millions of fans nationwide within the key demographic and was among one of the most highly anticipated shows of the season. Along with two exclusive teases with “Entertainment Tonight,” PR was able to secure several pieces to generate exposure for the episode including TV Guide, Star Magazine, Entertainment Weekly,
Home Media Magazine, and also had a large online/mommy blog presence to create awareness for the event.

Lastly, PR secured a sweepstakes giveaway with Woman’s World offering a trip to the Trapp Family Lodge and reaching over 1.2 millions readers among the target audience.

OVERALL RESULTS

The Sound of Music 45th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Disc was released on November 2nd, 2010 and within its first 24 hours of availability, the movie musical tallied sales of more than 100,000 units in the first week, resulting in the biggest catalog release of the year. In addition, the “The Oprah Winfrey Show” cast reunion reached more than 9 million fans in the U.S. alone and was syndicated in 146 foreign countries, boosting Blu-ray Disc sales across the globe.

Overall, the publicity campaign for the The Sound of Music 45th Anniversary Blu-ray Disc release received over 433 million impressions, reaching virtually every demographic and exceeded the expectations set forth by the studio, setting a benchmark for all large-scale PR campaigns to come.
 

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