The Man Who Couldn't Sell The Iron Giant
The best movie of the summer of 1999 was The Iron Giant, which about 328 people saw in theaters. It has rightfully accured a reputation as a beloved kids' film at this late date, thanks in large part to the fact it was the first feature from The Incredibles' Brad Bird, and has been released on DVD in several iterations. But seven years ago, Warner Brothers all but let The Iron Giant rust out in the rain. At the time, the man in charge of selling the movie was Brad Ball, then the president for domestic marketing at Warner Brothers, who told The New York Times in March 2000 that The Iron Giant toppled at the box office because "we did not have a fast-food component," meaning a tie-in with something like a McDonald's or Burger King. "If you don't have that in this arena, you are behind the starting gate. You're not only not in the pole position, you're seven or eight rows back." Word was he even sent a letter to Bird, apologizing for his failure to sell the would-be classic.
Ball would have known all about the fast-food nation: Before he was at Warners, he had been senior vice president and chief marketing officer for McDonald's from 1995 to 1998, where he forged the company's "landmark 10-year marketing alliance" with The Walt Disney Co., says here in today's online issue of Promo Magazine. This is the same magazine that announced Ball's latest gig: He has been hired by the Hall Street-based ad agency Moroch to open its first major office outside of Dallas. (The Dallas HQ looks like something out of a movie; one of the offices looks like a classroom filled with movable chalkboards.) Ball, who left Warners to open his own agency, will open Moroch's Los Angeles HQ, where, says Moroch founder Tom Moroch, Ball will focus on "digital and branded entertainment [that] will complement and broaden our capabilities in emerging media."
Moroch already does some work for McDonald's and handles marketing for many of the major film studios, including 20th Century Fox, Miramax, New Line and Sony; Ball brings them even more fast-food work. Moroch also does marketing work for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, The Dallas Morning News' Spanish-language spinoff Al Dia and KTVT-Channel 11. Meanwhile, the paper version of Unfair Park continues to market itself using only stray dogs wearing sandwich boards and a whole lot of wishful thinking. --Robert Wilonsky