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By David Finnigan - October 10, 2002

A surprise video appearance by former President Bill Clinton capped the L.A. Office RoadShow entertainment marketing conference Sept. 23-25, with the Hollywood gathering seeing increased interest among the 600 attendees in music promotions but disappointment over some films showcased.

"It would have been nice to see more of the studios," said Stacy Jones of product placement agency Creative Entertainment Services, Burbank, Calif. "New Line didn't present. Paramount didn't present. And of the films that were presented, all of them were the blockbuster-caliber releases, and there are so many more opportunities in some of the smaller films."

Sioux Jennett, a San Francisco-based branding consultant, also found RoadShow's movie line-up somewhat unimpressive, a blur of studio executives seeking tie-ins for films not unique.
"There seems to be a lack of original content," Jennett said. "It seems like re-purposed, regurgitated Spider-Man."

Of the 32 films presented by eight studios, 11 were sequels: X-Men II, Spider-Man 2, Shrek 2, Legally Blonde 2, The Fast and the Furious 2, Scooby-Doo 2, Cats and Dogs 2, Spy Kids 3, Terminator 3, Pokemon 4Ever and Analyze That, the Analyze This follow-up, which was being pitched despite its December, 2002 release date

No single film generated serious buzz as an early promotional stronghold for 2003. DreamWorks' Wendy Ryding and fellow SKGers impressed attendees as they eschewed Hollywood blah-blah-blah in favor of a we're-about-quality-not-quantity take on future movies, notably Sharkslayer and Shrek 2.

"[DreamWorks] showed so much more on screen," Jones said.

There was no keynote RoadShow speech-and no one missed it. Brassers go there to network, not hear Marketing 101 lectures. "To me, it's all about quantifiable metrics," said Jennett. "Talk to me about business."

RoadShow's second and third days focused on television and music, respectively. (Note: Reporters were barred from the film presentations, including Brandweek, which was one of six RoadShow media sponsors.)

Unlike the back-to-back film pitches, TV marketers were split into two separate blocks for kids/family and teen/adults marketers, such as those from Nickelodeon and Discovery Channel. Ex-MTV veejay Kennedy talked up her new Game Show Network gig. DIC Entertainment brassers discussed their new Mommy & Me franchise.

At one of the two RoadShow parties, IRS Records founder Miles Copeland said, "The public doesn't care anymore that [musicians] do a commercial. Because everything we do is a commercial. You wear advertisements every day."

Though his comments were not new, they were timely and reinforced this RoadShow's emphasis on music marketing. The overflow-crowd opening night party featured music from classic jazz-rockers Chicago, the Warner Music Group/Rhino band seeking a higher marketing profile.

RoadShow's music segment saw Walt Disney Records highlight its new line of kids' read-along DVDs, Sony Music emphasize promotion-friendly acts like The Dixie Chicks and Universal Music play on its urban/hip-hop strengths.

But it was Warner Music Group's collective pitch that made audiences sit up again after almost three days of pitches. Comedian Fred Armisen posed throughout the session as a fictitious cliché-spouting music exec and Michelle Branch played an acoustic song.

Especially noteworthy was Lava Records, the Warner label home to Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker headed up by president Jason Flom. Lava's product video opened with greetings from Clinton, who mentioned Lava Records by name-making the audience realize his words were not disinterested soundbites.

Lava's video closed with Clinton, seen finishing the intro's filming. Slightly shaking his head and smiling, the notion that Flom is a political donor came to the forefront when Clinton said, "The things I do for Jason Flom."