Record #1201

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David Palfreyman
Mr Will H. Hays, President, MPPDA
Reel 12
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Fiftieth Anniversary of Motion Pictures (Golden Jubilee)

Re Motion Picture's Greatest Year Advertising campaign. While direct box-office results are hard to prove, this was effective in "overcoming unfavourable public reaction on motion pictures ... inspired by radio commentators and people in the industry questioning the ethics and product of the business."


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10 November 1939 memo, Palfreyman to Hays, re Advertising campaign on Motion Pictures Greatest Year. "Unaffiliated exhibitors are inclined to overlook the main objectives of the campaign and fail to fully appreciate the value of the general advertising, no matter how effective it may be and to judge the results by how effectively the advertising sells specific pictures and draws people into the theatre who would not otherwise spend money at the box office. Criticism is rather widespread from this narrow point of view, that the newspaper advertisements listed so many titles of pictures that no advertising benefit was bestowed on any of the pictures listed, that the contest itself included too many pictures to be fully effective on any of them, that the clearance and run structure throughout the country threw most of the benefit from the contest to those theatres who were able to play the contest pictures near national release dates and that for these reasons the tangible return received by the unaffiliated theatres and through them by the distributors in dollars and cents was not all it should be. "They admit that the business at the theatres generally increased substantially after the campaign was started. They point out, however, that every year there is a seasonal increase in business at the same time of the year, partly due to the season and partly due to the invariable habit of the business to release stronger pictures at the beginning of the fall season than are released during the spring and summer seasons. Just how much of the increase this year was due to the advertising campaign and how much of the increase was due to season and the improved box office strength of the pictures released is not possible to ascertain mathematically. Probably one opinion is as good as another. "While individual exhibitors may criticize severely this advertising campaign, it is my impression and opinion at least 75% of the independent exhibitors believe that it was worthwhile, that it achieved a substantial success and that it was a very good thing for the business."

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