Douglas Cohn & Wolfe (DCW) was awarded the task of building visibility for the home video launch of Miss Congeniality, starring Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine, William Shatner and Candace Bergen. A $110 million box-office hit, Miss Congeniality appealed particularly to women and families nationwide. Warner Home Video (WHV) anticipated the VHS/DVD release would be a chart topper and asked DCW to garner extensive publicity to ensure wide awareness for the title.
Originally, Sandra Bullock was available for media interviews, so DCW secured appearances on the “Today Show,” “Live With Regis” and “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.” In Los Angeles, Bullock signed-on to talk with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.” Unfortunately, at the eleventh hour, Bullock pulled out. Taking this setback into consideration, DCW’s challenge was thereby two-fold; to create a publicity program, sans Bullock’s star power, that would still be so distinctive that it would set the title apart from competitors also streeting May 1, including Paramount Home Entertainment’s box-office hit, What Women Want, and drive national visibility, as well as ensure Warner Home Video’s sales expectations were met.
DCW has submitted this project to be considered for a 2002 Sabre Award because we feel that with the unfortunate turn-of-events in losing Sandra Bullock at the eleventh hour, the account team proved flexible, fast and efficient in its’ response to the situation and still delivered on-target results.
DCW reviewed Warner Home Video’s marketing plan for the home video release of Miss Congeniality and researched the movie’s theatrical reviews to determine the target audience. Based on the research, we concluded that our efforts should appeal first to women, specifically women consumers who rent and purchase videos and DVDs for the family.
Without talent support and working within a limited budget of $25,000 for fee and out-of-pocket, DCW called upon additional means to market the title. First, the Miss USA Pageant was contacted and the 2001 “Miss Congeniality” winner, Monica Palumbo, was invited to serve as the new campaign spokesperson for the movie’s home video release. DCW then sent “Miss Congeniality” on a media tour to offer tips in congeniality and parallel her life to Sandra Bullock’s character in the film. Fittingly, many aspects of the two beauty queens’ lives actually matched, particularly their tomboyish younger years.
Ms. Palumbo, the reining “Miss North Carolina” and just 19-years-old, turned out to be the perfect representative. DCW knew her bubbly, good-natured, quick-witted ways would make for a successful media tour. To make double sure, DCW media trained Monica with key message points.
DCW also prepared gift-baskets, filled with products fit for a beauty queen, including Clinique skincare products, a tiara made by the same company that provides Miss USA Pageant tiaras and crowns, a bathing-suit by the maker of Miss USA Pageant swimwear, a Miss Congeniality mirrored compact and, of course, a copy of the Miss Congeniality VHS and DVD. Also included in the basket was a “Miss Congeniality” sash with bright pink lettering, just like the one worn in the film, that news anchors enjoyed wearing on-air. The baskets and sashes were a huge hit with television and radio stations nationwide.
To ensure the program would achieve the desired goals, DCW implemented the following:
· Drafted and disseminated consumer and trade press releases announcing the release of the VHS/DVD to print and electronic media.
· Drafted and distributed a pitch letter to top-tier morning news shows in an effort to secure interviews with Monica Palumbo or secondly, on-air gift-basket giveaways.
· Aggressively pitched national media before street date to secure multiple media hits during the week of the release.
· Contacted appropriate sponsors and coordinated the assembly of two dozen Miss Congeniality gift baskets.
· Arranged travel for Monica Palumbo that fit within the limited budget.
DCW secured national broadcast hits on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Access Hollywood,” “Extra,” “E! News Daily,” as well as in many of the top 50 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Las Vegas and Charlotte.
Feature stories and reviews of Miss Congeniality ran in daily newspapers across the country including USA Today, Los Angeles Times, New York Times and the Chicago Tribune.
Reviews of Miss Congeniality ran in national weekly magazines including Entertainment Weekly and US Weekly as well as in monthlies, Premiere, Movieline and Tiger Beat.
Photographs also ran in key video and Hollywood trades, including Billboard Magazine, Daily Variety and Video Store Magazine.
Sales of the Miss Congeniality video and DVD were fantastic and exceeded expectations. In fact, the Miss Congeniality video and DVD continue to be listed among the top 10 best selling videos and DVDs on the charts—nearly 13 weeks later. The title was also among the top 10 most rented videos for several weeks, beating WHV’s monster hits The Perfect Storm, The Green Mile and You’ve Got Mail and, importantly, Paramount’s What Women Want.