Cinemax Drives Demand

Cinemax's promotion touting The Matrix trilogy centers on the question “Are You The One?” But the marketing effort seeks to achieve multiple goals.

In addition to driving tune-in for the linear airings of The Matrix on Nov. 11, The Matrix Reloaded the following night and the pay TV premiere of The Matrix Revolutions on Nov. 13, the premium channel is aiming to boost awareness for its on-demand offering of the three films.

A special tab called “Are You The One?” allows viewers to access any or all of the films from Nov. 4 through Dec. 2.


These elements, supported by a variety of media, are aimed at helping affiliates boost acquisition and retention efforts, said vice president of brand development and subscriber marketing Bernadette Aulestia.

“This is further positioning of the brand as the place for top theatricals. This is an event we believe can assist distributors in reinforcing the value of the service,” she said, noting that Cinemax has scored well with viewers when airing big-budget, action-type films.

Aulestia said The Matrix gambit also underlines Cinemax's positioning as the service for big theatrical premieres, which began a couple of years ago. Since then, Home Box Office's sister service has bowed such films as Old School, American Wedding, Bad Boys II, The Rundown, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Big Fish on Saturday nights in 2004.

Through 2010, company officials said, Cinemax and HBO have access to over 50% of Hollywood's theatrical output.

As to The Matrix on-demand feature, which will afford viewers the capability to watch all the films in sequence — or any part therein — Cinemax has high hopes.

“This is the first time we are doing an on-demand special. It will really be quite exciting to see how consumers react,” said Aulestia.

To stoke awareness for the films, Cinemax is arming affiliates with various promotional materials like tent cards and posters for their call centers and give-aways like Matrix DVDs. Cross-channel spots with a place for five-second tags are available. HBO recommends affiliates run cross-channel spots on such general-entertainment networks as USA Network, Turner Network Television, TBS and FX, as well as more-targeted services like MTV: Music Television, Comedy Central and ESPN. There will also be plenty of on-air promotion on Cinemax and its multiplexes.

On the consumer side, Cinemax will run an online sweepstakes and has secured full-page inserts with scratch-and-win game card pieces in newspapers in the top 10 markets, as well as Rolling Stone (Nov. 25 issue), Entertainment Weekly (Nov. 12) and ESPN The Magazine (Nov. 21).

On the radio side, Cinemax plans to have DJs run call-in trivia contests to find “The One.”


Cinemax will also take to the streets of New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Atlanta, deploying 25-member teams attired in “Agent Smith” garb who will hand instant-win cards at key locations in those cities.

Premiums include seven grand prizes of a home theater package and 10 Sony Corp. HDTV sets.

Going forward, Aulestia anticipates that Cinemax will conduct similar on-demand campaigns around some major releases.

“We may not have trilogies, but we'll take a look at behind-the-scenes features and other content,” she said.

Some of the films scheduled to make their premium TV debuts on Cinemax next year include: Starsky & Hutch, The Whole Ten Yards, The Day After Tomorrow, Spider-Man 2, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.