March 29, 2011 / 11:40 PM / in 7 years

Hollywood "terrible" at marketing itself: lobbyist

LAS VEGAS (Hollywood Reporter) - Christopher Dodd doesn’t mince words.

Christopher Dodd in Washington, May 21, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Reed

At the CinemaCon industry convention on Tuesday, Hollywood’s newly appointed chief lobbyist said the movie industry is great at selling movies but awful at marketing itself.

As a result, Washington tends to think of the business as “red carpets and tuxedoes,” not as a thriving industry that employs millions and contributes billions to the economy, he told The Hollywood Reporter.

Dodd, who spent three decades in the U.S. Senate and was a high-profile figure during the financial meltdown, took over as chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America nine days.

CinemaCon, an annual convention where studios tout their upcoming movies to theater owners, was a natural venue for Dodd to deliver his first speech. He set up a flurry of meetings and becoming the unofficial star of the Caesars Palace event.

In a subsequent interview, Dodd said it was too early to make any big policy announcements on such hot-button issues as piracy. But on the issue of Hollywood doing a better job of marketing itself, he was adamant, saying it’s a top priority for him.

“There is a total misunderstanding on Capitol Hill,” Dodd said. “Studios are terrific at selling their films but terrible, just terrible, at marketing their business.”

One idea Dodd has involves theater owners. During his speech, he encouraged them to host Saturday morning community meetings, where they could explain the problems and concerns facing the movie business.

“After three decades in Congress, I have some idea how to attract the attention of a congressman or senator,” Dodd said. “When you return to your states, invite your local governor, state legislator, congressman and senator to your theater and fill it with those who work with you along with video store employees and their families. Tell them about the importance of these issues to you and to your communities.”

He said that sort of event would have impressed him far more when he was a senator than a visit from an executive.

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