Cinemax Sets Movie-Getaway Sweepstakes

Consumers face some compelling choices this summer: They can go on vacation or stay at home and watch hit theatrical movies make their premium television network premieres.

Lucky winners of the "Cinemax Movie Getaway" sweepstakes — which runs throughout the month of July — will have a chance to do both.

To highlight its strategy of airing the most movies with the fewest number of repeats, Cinemax that month will stage its "Max Out on Movies" consumer-acquisition campaign. New subscribers can enter to win a choice of three cinema-themed trips: the Passport to Paris, in honor of Moulin Rouge; an eco-exploration excursion to Costa Rica's rainforest to celebrate Planet of the Apes; or a visit to Los Angeles, and the Warner Bros. studio, to commemorate the overall Hollywood experience.

"We thought it was a great way to leverage the great movie inventory on Cinemax," said Home Box Office senior vice president of marketing and business development Olivia Smashum.

Other hit theatricals slated to run during the July promotion include Cast Away, Eyes Wide Shut, Gladiator, Meet the Parents
and Proof of Life.

"These are movies that have done considerable box office," Smashum said. "People are aware of them."

Cinemax wants to condition its viewers to expect to see hit movies there, said Smashum. Following the July promotion, Cinemax will become the first premium network to debut Ali, Monster's Ball
and Ocean's Eleven.

In addition to the consumer sweepstakes, Cinemax will run a similar contest for its affiliates to encourage them to play up the summer promotion.

The network plans to support the consumer-acquisition campaign with radio ads in 22 major markets, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Cinemax will also supply affiliates with such support materials as direct mail, post cards, postage reimbursement, cross-channel spots and online messages.

Cinemax will produce over 1 million direct-mail pieces for AT&T Broadband's New England division alone, Smashum said. Affiliates can play their part by adding a special offer to encourage new subscriptions. The campaign is open to both cable and direct-broadcast satellite operators.

Another key component is an online viral marketing campaign. To entice electronic-mail recipients to spread the good word, Cinemax will promote a $15 rebate to any new subscriber, and will raise that rebate to $25 if the new subscriber forwards the e-mail on to a friend.

Cinemax was able to generate this consumer database through its corporate relationship with AOL Time Warner Inc. sibling America Online, Smashum said.