Ad campaign plays the swelter card

Times Staff Writer

As millions of Americans bemoaned recent record-breaking temperatures, executives at Paramount Classics were using the heat wave to their advantage. In an “I told you so” kind of move late last week, the studio tweaked its print ad campaign for “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore’s “global warning” documentary, to add the headline “How hot is your city?” atop a blazing sun and bright red background.

According to the ad, it was 99 degrees in New York, 104 in Salt Lake City and 108 in Phoenix. Below those steamy figures, bullet points reminded audiences that the Earth’s temperature is at a 400-year high, that the first half of 2006 was the hottest in history and that melting ice caps spell trouble for coastal cities. The text sits above a silhouetted city, echoing the film’s signature poster of a hurricane-shaped emission billowing from a shadowy factory smokestack.

A spokeswoman for Paramount said its marketers were constantly scouting ways to accentuate the relevance and immediacy of the film.


“When a massive heat wave is going on, you want to make them think twice,” the spokeswoman said. “People still have questions about whether global warming is real. We’re not saying it is directly tied to this summer, but ultimately, there is a cumulative effect.”

It’s not the first time the film’s marketers tried something different: In a throwback to his days in politics, Gore recorded a message about global warming to be used in a phone campaign run by green gurus, the Sierra Club. And the team is gearing up for fall, when it will screen the film for students from elementary grades to college. Another round is slated for December, when the studio will promote the newly released DVD as a teaching tool.

Although ticket sales didn’t rise over the weekend, the movie did hold at the No. 12 spot -- a feat in itself for a documentary, but made even stronger when taking into account that it played in 130 fewer theaters than the week before, said Brandon Gray, president of BoxOffice The environmental flick has grossed nearly $19 million thus far, making it the fourth most profitable documentary of all time, behind “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “March of the Penguins” and “Bowling for Columbine.”

Once it passes the $20-million mark, Paramount is set to donate $1 million to the Alliance for Climate Protection, she said.