Big Elvis Sighting Reported at TCM

Turner Classic Movies is all shook up about the multipronged marketing efforts set to support its Jan. 15 premiere of the remixed and re-edited letterbox version of the 1970 theatrical documentary Elvis: That's the Way It Is.

The concert movie has been retitled Elvis: That's the Way It Is-Special Edition, to reflect the changes. It includes 40 percent new footage, including musical numbers from Presley's Las Vegas appearances.

Also that night, TCM will run four songs cut from the original film to make room for the new material on both the network and its Web site.

TCM commissioned the $1 million revamp of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film. (Turner Entertainment Co. president Roger Mayer, who was with MGM when the movie made, facilitated the new edition.)

January was chosen because it's when the "King of Rock & Roll" was born and when TCM had slated a month-long, 19-film "Elvis Star of the Month Birthday Celebration," hosted by Priscilla Presley. (Titles set to air each Monday as of Jan. 1 will include Blue Hawaii, Jailhouse Rock, Love Me Tender
and Viva Las Vegas.)

All the Elvis promotional hoopla for the tribute and the concert special represents "a good chunk of change" but falls short of the support behind TCM's annual "31 Days of Oscar," TCM executive vice president and general manager Tom Karsch said last Thursday. But the Elvis promo contains more layers than other TCM efforts, including a prominent Web component in terms of both content and marketing, he said.

August is another big month for Presley fans since he died in August of 1977, 23 years ago. TCM technically began its Elvis concert-movie promotion last August with a sweepstakes tied to a "sneak preview" at the legend's Graceland estate in Memphis, Tenn. Musicland Stores Corp. was among the sponsors.

Karsch said TCM will cosponsor promotions with affiliates and radio stations in Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Tulsa, Las Vegas, Nashville and four other cities, offering tickets to a local movie-theater screenings of the reworked movie during the second week in January plus a shot at a sweepstakes grand prize in each market (which includes a tour of Graceland and a stay at the Heartbreak Hotel in Memphis). Affiliates in those ten markets will begin running customized 30-second spots starting late this month.

Comcast in Las Vegas will participate, as will Adelphia Communications Corp. in Cleveland by hosting a screening at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Karsch said. Several AT & T Broadband systems also have linked up with the promotion, he said.

Moreover, TCM will have an Elvis subsite on its own recently relaunched Internet site, where another sweepstakes will offer a similar trip to Memphis.

That microsite will present streaming video from the concert film and theatrical trailers from Presley's various films. It will offer electronic Elvis postcards, said TCM senior vice president of enterprises and new media Katherine Evans.

When TCM suggested using that microsite as a cobranded way to drive high-speed Internet access, "Cox [Communications Inc.] really jumped on it," Evans said. That MSO has encouraged all its systems to participate, although TCM is not yet clear how many will do so come January, added TCM director of interactive marketing Laura Galietta.

In another unusual marketing ploy for TCM, the network will utilize a video electronic-mail campaign, sending teaser footage from the movie special to 11,000 TCM subscribers and 18,000 fans on Elvis Presley Enterprises' mail lists, Evans said. Because it is "a viral campaign," she noted, TCM will be able to track any additional names to whom those 30,000 pass along the e-mail images.

More traditional marketing elements will range from ad pages in magazines (Entertainment Weekly, People, Premiere
and TV Guide) and newspapers in ten key markets to commercials on TV Guide Channel and in movie theaters in the top three DMAs as well as seven others, through mid-January, Karsch added.