Ballyhoo Business Stunts

Bath-Tub Stunt Effective for ‘Rounders’ in Iowa

BOXOFFICE, The pulse of the Motion Picture Industry. July 12, 1965

Highlighting J. Louis “Doc” Smith’s promotion for “The Rounders” was the bath tub bit, when relief projectionist Rick Annunazio sat in the tub nightly in front of the Iowa Theatre, Jefferson, Iowa.

Manager Smith had Annunazio reading a pressbook on the MGM picture while music poured from a transistor radio. “This certainly an an eye-catcher,” Smith said, “and created more than the expected amount of interest.”

In the foyer of the theatre, the showman had a saddle display and rifles and side arms were on exhibit at the concession stand. In addition, the theatre promoted a page of co-op advertising with a coupon in each ad entitling the bearer to free admission when accompanied by a paying adult.

Smith also is again running his summer series matinee which started June 9 and runs through

July 28.

Band, Playdate Tie-Ins Effective for Canadian

BOXOFFICE, The pulse of the Motion Picture Industry. July 12, 1965

Showman L. Rand Archibald, assistant manager of the Armond Theatre in Cranbrook, B.C., believes that tying in a band with playdates, appealing to teenagers, really pays off.

He has a teenage band on an hour before showtime. He says he has done it this four or five times, and each time “we have had to turn away at least 100 people.” Also, instead running “an ordinary” horror show for midnight, Archibald books two or three rather short films that have teenage appeal, and has a band on hand before and between each show. “We have fantastic results,” he says.

For his “Godfather” playdate, Archibald took an old pair of shoes, an old shirt and pants and sprayed them with gold paint. During the week, an usher wore the outfit, and on Saturdays a student wore it downtown giving out passes for the show.

For United Artists’ “The Pink Panther,” he had a pink panther made up. He also painted his car pink and had a panther costumed person drive it around town which proved “very effective.”

Archibald says a teenage night club has opened in Cranbrook and he uses this to promote teenage shows. He give out passes to the disk jockey, who operates the place by advertising the shows.

Another effective means Archibald uses to promote future playdates is through a tape recorder.

A Down-to-Earth…Can Do Selling Job Without Being Expensive

BOXOFFICE, The pulse of the Motion Picture Industry. July 12, 1965

The pomp and pageantry of a gala campaign, with the hustle and bustle of a coronation, is good. Most every exhibitor would welcome the opportunity to direct such a ballyhoo. But most often, it’s expensive. And a good campaign doesn’t have to be so costly to be successful. All it takes is good imagination and a determined follow-through.

Showman Harry Gaines, manager of the Trans-Texas Hollywood in Fort Worth, and his capable assistant Morris Tallmon carried out an elaborate, inexpensive campaign for their “Die! Die! My Darling!” playdate in an an attention-getting manner.

Two weeks in advance of opening, a scream record was piped in from of the theatre, which included playdate and credits for the Columbia picture. Three Thousand heralds were uses as bag stuffers at three Fort Worth supermarkets. A few passes to each manager was the only cost here.

The Texas Wesleyan College newspaper ran a nice piece of an art on “Die! Die!” Again, the only cost was a few passes to the Hollywood.

The street ballyhoo, which rated a two column picture and a column item in the Fort Worth Press, was showmanized in the image of Hollywood. Here, Gaines and Tallmon had Mary Nelson, a concession clerk, appear on downtown streets wearing a “fright” wig and carrying a portable tape recorder, which emitted blood curdling screams. The excellent stunt attracted the attention of pedestrians and motorists. The wig was rented from costume shop and the recorder, from an electronics company.

The three days before playdate, the theatre began running a classified ad, advising anyone named Darling would be admitted free to the Hollywood upon furnishing proper identification.

The campaign was suggested to Gaines by Dick Empey, publicity and advertising director for Trans-Texas.

Sky Diver, Clown-Disk Jockey, Girls Launch ‘Beach Blanket’ at Liberal, Kansas, Theatre

BOXOFFICE, The pulse of the Motion Picture Industry. July 12, 1965

Manager W.P. Rector of the Tucker Theatre in Liberal, Kansas, attributes most of the success of his “Beach Blanket Bingo” run with his promotions that broke on opening day and included the ballyhoo of a popular disk jockey and a sky diver’s free-fall leap from 12,000 feet.beachBlanket

On opening day and the day after, live radio broadcasts originated from the theatre. The hour-long programs were hoisted by a local disk jockey “K-LIB the Clown.” He had with him two girls in swimming suits who helped. He used the star interviews of Deborah Walley, Frankie Avalon and other others offered him in the AIP pressbook. They gave away records and interviewed teenagers.

Even merchants in Liberal joined in. When they saw the theatre’s activity, the clown and the girls, they sent over little gifts to them, including suntan lotion, lemonade and magazines.

Also on opening day, a free parachute exhibition was held at the airport to plug the picture. The sky diver was interviewed before and after his jump from 12,000 feet and free falling to 1,500 feet before opening his chute.

Radio station KLIB gave the major portion of the airport interviews a full-news bulletin effect.

Rector also promoted window tie-ups with merchants before opening.

Radio Contest for “Most Popular School” Aimed at Teenagers for Engagement of “The Head”


A radio contest to determine the Most Popular School in Syracuse was arranged by Sol L. Sorkin, manager of RKO Keith’s Theatre in that city, to plug his engagement of Tran-Lux’s horror film release “The Head” The rules were kept simple, with the contestants required to be enrolled either a junior or senior high school, and each phone call to the radio station a vote for the school.

Radio Station WNDR invited contestants to telephone their identification of a song played on the station at a particular time. The songs were of a popular variety and easily identifiable. Anyone guessing the tune’s title had his or her name placed on a ballot which was thrown into a huge drum. Five names were drawn daily for seven days, with each of these persons entitled to pick a prize from station WNDR’s Grab-Bag of prizes.

More than $2,000 worth of prizes were in the Grab-Bag, including a $500 car, a television set, a Hi-Fi set, a year’s supply of guest tickets to RKO Keith’s theatre, plus 25 pairs of guest tickets and many other prizes.

The Grab-Bag drawings were conducted live each night from the lobby of the theatre. Dan Leonard, top announcer of station WNDR, emceed the lobby broadcast for seven nights from 8 to 9 P.M. Considerable excitement was generated each night from the lobby of the theatre as contestants, relatives and station listeners jammed the lobby for the nightly drawings. Listeners were advised over the air that the broadcast was originating from the lobby of RKO Keiths’s theatre.popularSchool

The lobby was wildly decorated with prominent displays of the forthcoming opening of “The Head.” Also, for two weeks in advance plus three days after opening, the theatre received 10 free one-minute announcements daily referring to the picture, theatre and playdate of “The Head.”

Special Displays

The special displays on “The Head” included: using a cutout of “The Head” from the free-sheet plus stills, a display was set up in the main library at Syracuse University; a similar display was set up in the Syracuse Main Public Library centered around the library’s science fiction books; the out lobby display, set up a week in advance of playdate, featured a huge head larger than the one in the three-sheet, as the center of a special horror front, which had the hand hanging down above the box office. The showman was prepared for the prospect of any of the Syracuse students grabbing the head as a souvenir. An ad offering a reward for “The Head” would have followed.

The radio contestant for the “Most Popular School” proved a most effective angle in reaching the teenage audience. Mr. Sorkin did not neglect the science fiction enthusiasts. All of the local “out of this world” groups were contacted with full information on the playdate.

Boxoffice, North Central Edition, March 11, 1974. The ad for Mad House, 1974, is very different than the traditional movie poster. Note at the bottom the banner: “Contact Your American International Exchange.” The direction of the ad was to get theater managers to book the film.