Faith Audience Propels 'Blind Side'

   Dec. 9, 2009 – Family-audience sports film The Blind Side achieved a rare feat of ranking #1 at the box office in its third week of release, helped by a massive specialty marketing campaign targeting the faith audience.
   Warner Bros. Pictures hired Grace Hill Media to promote the film to consumers that actively pursue religious worship and an Advertising Age article by Andrew Hampp notes that 20,000 churches downloaded clips about the film. Further, Grace Hill pitched the film to its database of 155,000 ministry professionals and 1 million consumers.
  “I don’t know if you’ve seen a contemporary church service lately, but they’re pretty big, modern places with lots of TV screens -- definitely not your grandfather’s church with an organ,” Grace Hill chief Jonathan Bock, who is a former Warner Bros. publicity executive, says in the Advertising Age article. “So if you’re a pastor and you just paid $35,000 for a massive high-tech screen, you don’t just want to screen out the lyrics to ‘Our God Is an Awesome God.’ In the last four years, websites have started cropping up specifically for pastors where they can go and download and look for clips they can use as sermon illustrations, instead of using something like some story they either made up or had about their own life.”
   Bock continues, “We’re not buying advertising in church bulletins. I don't want to infringe on that sacred hour, but if a pastor feels comfortable using something from a movie, if it ties in with something he's doing in church, then that's terrific.”
   Bock adds: “We do a lot of outreach efforts with pastors, youth pastors, priests -- people who would have an occasion or opportunity to speak to a few dozen or many thousands. Then we'll create advertising, publicity and word-of-mouth screening programs for them, and depending on the movie, we'll provide resource materials for ministers to use in their churches.”
   The Blind Side, which has grossed a blockbuster $129 million at the box office in its first three weeks of release, stars Sandra Bullock in the inspirational true story of a well-off woman who adopts a homeless youth that goes on to success in football.
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