Walter Mencken 9:15 a.m., March 28
Anatomy of an ad campaign: North by Northwest
This is the image that started it all:
I turned 6 the day mom took me to Chicago's Loop Theatre to meet Pinocchio. After a birthday luncheon at Wimpy's, we spent the following hour standing in line. The image of Monstro about to devour a raft and its cartoon contents was pinned inside a poster case at eye-level, poised to both terrify and entice. I spent almost as much time staring at this picture as I did the 88 minute feature it came from.
After the show, the house lights came up and there in the lobby were people hawking Pinocchio hats and pendants. (I picked up a size 6 7/8 felt beanie in green.) When asked how much for the picture in the lobby, the usher laughed and told me they were not for sale.
It took a few years, but I eventually figured out where to find them.
When was the last time a publicity still passed through my hands? Five years? Seven years? Press kits have gone the way of exhibition. Why print out hard copies when pixels are so easily downloadable?
Black-and-white photographs were generally released to print publications while color stills -- along with posters and lobby cards -- adorned the outside of ornate picture palaces. Amidst the sequential light bulbs and splashy poster art, these individual swatches from the film added a more intimate touch.
Pressbooks provided exhibitors with images of posters and other assorted lobby art on sale at National Screen Service as well as eye-catching newspapers advertisements of all shapes and sizes to select from.
I've been actively collecting stills since my teens and was fortunate enough to unearth these highly coveted studio-issue images from North by Northwest at a relatively early point in life. A paper bag containing 5 black-and-white 8 x 10s, found on my first visit to Sin City in 1975, sat waiting for me in a basement gift shop at the MGM Grand.
The Technicolor stills came my way in the late '70's. There was a long-gone memorabilia store on La Cienega Blvd. where they were priced to move at an outrageous $12 a piece. Today, what with eBay having turned everyone's basement into a collectibles store, they sell for $12.50.
If you think product placement and promotional tie-ins are relatively recent phenomena, guess again. Scroll down to find cross-over promotions for everything from Mercedes Benz and Greyhound to Western Union, Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and stereo cameras!
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