Warner Bros. promotes show biz benefits

Warner Bros. is taking promotion of two of its TV series to the streets with truck advertising that boasts how many jobs the shows have created, the economic benefits they’ve brought to the community and a thank-you to residents and drivers impacted by on-location shoots.

It’s part of a new marketing strategy that simultaneously promotes the product while tapping into consumer interest in the economy and job creation.

“It’s kind of a pilot program,” said Michael Walbrecht, vice president of public affairs for the studio.

The trucks decked out with the display advertising rolled out this past week.

The three trucks — two for “The Mentalist” and one for “Suburgatory” — are used at on-location shoots to transport equipment and props, as well as for studio production work, bringing items such as props and furniture to the sets.

Because Warner Bros. is based in Burbank, local residents likely will see the trucks more frequently, Walbrecht said, but the vehicles will be traveling throughout the greater Los Angeles area, particularly for “The Mentalist,” which does regular on-location shoots.

“They could be anywhere from Long Beach to Lancaster,” Walbrecht said.

The new marketing tack comes as job creation dominates the presidential race and the headlines. In that environment, the ads let the public know that the movie business helps fuel the economy in significant ways, Walbrecht said.

“It reminds them that this is a big industry,” he said.

The truck ads tout “The Mentalist” as having created 216 jobs and resulting in $300 million spent locally during its last four seasons. “Suburgatory” created 168 jobs and generated $75 million in local spending during its first two seasons, according to the studio.

But the ads also serve to express Warner Bros.’ appreciation to residents affected by on-location shoots, and drivers who may have to take a detour around film crews, trucks and equipment, Walbrecht said.

“We recognize that taking out a crew of 100 people, and a whole bunch of trucks and a whole bunch of equipment, can be disruptive for a neighborhood,” he said.

If the marketing program is successful, Warner Bros. may expand it.

“I hope that we get some good response and feedback and try to find some more shows in the future to do it with,” Walbrecht said.

Follow Mark on Twitter @LAMarkKellam.

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