Record #1184

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Howard Dietz, MGM
George J. Schaefer, (at UA in 1936) General Sales Manager, Paramount
Reel 12
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The report of the Advertising Committee on Motion Pictures' Greatest Year -- the improved profits have to do with the improved product (higher quality films) but the advertising and publicity campaigns cannot be underestimated. Reveals problems of negotiating institutional promotion as opposed to promotion of individuals and companies. For example, "We must present the press with the story of motion pictures in the best light. We must not allow this story to be impaired by temporary competitive gains."


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Advertising Committee memo on MPPDA institutional advertising campaign for Motion Picture's Greatest Year, 15 November 1938, by Howard Dietz: "... At the outset we found an opposition developing on the part of the press. This was due to a misconstruction of the purposes of the appropriation that had been unavoidedly printed. It was thought by some that the appropriation was designed to influence the Government suit. It was thought by others that it was a device to high-pressure the newspapers and distort criticism. Also the critical mind seemed to think that the status of pictures was so low that any effort that was not solely in the production field must be completely discounted. We found such agencies as the Associated Press and the United Press giving an inflection to our plan which was not the intended one and might be considered definitely cynical." Attitudes were greatly improved during the campaign. "... Business has increased steadily due mainly to the improvement in the quality if the releases -- but a substantial measure of this success must be attributed to the atmosphere that was created as a stage setting for the new season." 37 million booklets of the Movie Quiz were produced, to date over 30 million of them sold, included in a total of $185,000 in accessories. "This activity has been managed with complete solvency." 610 editorials have appeared to date in daily newspapers -- more than 1/4 of the 1,950 daily newspapers in the United States. "The problems to be faced at the outset in copy preparation were these: "1. The advertising could not feature a selected list of pictures as this might work along lines of favoritism. "2. Similarly, the photographs of stars could not be used as they represented individual company possessions. "3. Sensationalism and show language was to be avoided as this had been one of the source of out industry's difficulties. "4. A contest was to be included which with its large money prizes was not to be stressed out of proportion to the good will purposes of the campaign. "With these restrictions in mind the path of dignity was the only one that could properly be taken. "... It is my firm belief that for the future success of our industry we should be organized to present the aims and aspirations of the industry through the years. There is a great deal more to this than meets the eye and in the long pull the industry will have made a wise investment if it goes about this most important proposition in a thorough manner. I would feel remiss in my duty if I did not strongly impress upon you the urgency of such consideration. "I do not discuss media as it is possible that all type of publications and air waves be used. I am not even making a specific recommendation of the type of advertising. I am recommending primarily, research, house to house canvases, polls, continuous exhibitor and patron interviews ... A real effort to find out the subjects the public is interested in. What they think about motion pictures. Why they go and why they don't go."

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