Paul Holmes 12 Jun 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Just like Dr. Doolittle dared to think “If I Could Talk to the Animals” so too did the team at Douglas Cohn & Wolfe who planned the VHS/DVD premiere party for Warner Home Video’s My Dog Skip. While many Angelenos can say they’ve been to an autograph signing, only a few can say they’ve been to a “Pawtograph” signing. We believe this highly successful premiere event is deserving of an award because the creativity, strategy and execution detailed below both exceeded client expectations and raised the bar on the level of energy, imagination and resourcefulness needed to bring events to life.
DESCRIPTION OF CHALLENGE
Douglas Cohn & Wolfe (DCW) was awarded the task of building visibility for the home video launch of My Dog Skip, staring Frankie Muniz, Kevin Bacon and Diane Lane. A sleeper hit, My Dog Skip did extremely well at the box office, appealing to families nationwide. Warner Home Video anticipated the VHS/DVD release would be a chart topper and shared their lofty sales expectations.
Additionally, the VHS/DVD release of My Dog Skip shared the “street date” of July 11, 2000 with other significant home video releases, including Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Taking this competition into consideration, DCW’s challenge was two-fold; to create an event so distinctive that it would set itself apart from competitors and drive national visibility, as well as ensure Warner Home Video’s sales expectations were met.
In response, DCW created an inimitable media event that transformed the archetypal VHS/DVD launch into a Hollywood-style, red-carpet premiere party, focusing on a unique canine element. DCW’s strategy was rooted in tremendous inventive thinking.
SNIFFING IT OUT: RESEARCH
DCW reviewed Warner Home Video’s marketing plan for the home video release of
My Dog Skip and researched the movie’s theatrical reviews to determine the target audience. Based on the research, we concluded that our efforts should appeal most to families, specifically those consumers who rent and purchase videos and DVDs for the family.
Not limiting our target audience to simply humans, DCW explored how we could reach another essential audience … LA pooches! DCW tracked-down pet-owners in Los Angeles and married entertainment contact lists from animal charities, Three Dog Bakery and other pet-friendly businesses around the city.
Animal charities were contacted to find the most appropriate organization to participate in the event and accept a donation from Warner Home Video for their pet-friendly focused work. P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Wonderful Support) LA was selected, an organization that promotes pet companionship to bedridden individuals, paralleling the sentiment revealed in the film.
While it was expected that all black-tie pooches would be on their best behavior, DCW, careful to avoid a “barking lot” crisis, researched events involving animals and hired the appropriate number of handlers, ensured enough water would be available and,of course, had plenty of My Dog Skip inscribed dog biscuits on-hand. (And, yes, DCW arranged for top-of-the-line pooper scoopers to be available).
FETCH!: STRATEGIC APPROACH
To ensure the event 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 media advisory to secure calendar listings as well as invite local print and broadcast media to attend.
Secured media interviews with Frankie Muniz prior to street date, including Donny & Marie, CNN Showbiz Today and Billboard Magazine.
Produced eye-catching My Dog Skip signage that was strategically placed at the event to ensure inclusion in all photo ops.
Invited dogs and their owners to participate in event and create a lively and fun atmosphere.
Produced eye-catching black-tie collars with My Dog Skip printed on them for all dogs to wear during the event (unavoidable signage!).
Ordered and gave away as party favors, peanut butter dog bones and “people” cookies from Three Dog Bakery. The My Dog Skip logo was hand-written in carob on all goodies.
Produced custom My Dog Skip frames that family photographs, taken by a photographer at the event, were placed in as take-home party favors for all guests.
Invited and secured attendance of My Dog Skip star Frankie Muniz along with director Jay Russell and celebrity pooch “Skip,” who arrived in black stretch limos to join in on the fun and autograph (or “pawtograph”) guest’s VHS and DVD copies.
Produced and distributed as a national satellite feed b-roll footage of the event. The b-roll included clips of scenes from the My Dog Skip movie and was picked up nationally at network affiliates and independent stations.
Aggressively pitched national media before and after the event to secure multiple media hits following the home video street date.
THE BIG DAY! : CAMPAIGN EXECUTION
On July 11, 2000 more than a hundred dogs and their owners joined Frankie Muniz (star of My Dog Skip and TV’s Malcolm in the Middle), canine pal and celebrity pooch, “Skip,” as well as director Jay Russell and other cast members in celebration of the VHS/DVD release of the hit family film.
Clad in black ties for this Hollywood, star-studded event, pets (and their owners) enjoyed rubbing “paws” with the cast while waiting along the red carpet to have their VHS/DVD copy of My Dog Skip “pawtographed.”
Gussied-up for the celebration, pooches and their owners took advantage of the on-hand photographer who snapped memorable family photos, placed in custom-made My Dog Skip frames, that served as take-home party favors.
PAWS LA, a non profit organization that promotes pet companionship to bedridden individuals, enjoyed a VIP presence at the canine-fest and received a $2,500 donation from Warner Home Video for its pet-friendly focused work.
The premiere party took place in the “barking lot” of Hollywood’s celebrity central – the famed Tower Records & Video on Sunset Boulevard. The store was open and guests lined up to purchase copies of the VHS and DVD of the film.
GIVE A DOG A BONE: RESULTS
The event was a great success and attracted a larger than expected eye-catching audience with more than 150 celebrity and non-celebrity pet owners and nearly as many dogs attending, at Tower Records and Video on Sunset Blvd.
My Dog Skip b-roll feed secured more than two million audience impressions nationwide, airing more than 50 times in 40 markets.
Associated Press ran event photos nationally, as did Reuters News Service reaching a potential of 50 million impressions.
Photographs also ran in key video and Hollywood trades, including Billboard Magazine, Daily Variety and Video Store Magazine.
Feature stories, reviews of My Dog Skip and interviews with Frankie Muniz ran in daily newspapers across the country including Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Chicago Sun Times and USA Today. Print impressions amounted to nearly 80 million.
Sales of the My Dog Skip video and DVD were fantastic and exceeded expectations, in fact, the My Dog Skip video and DVD were listed among the top 10 best selling videos and DVDs on the charts for nearly 10 weeks. The title was also among the top 10 most rented videos for several weeks.