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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 505 (490)

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition
1948-49 Theatre Catalog
1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 505
Page 505

1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 505

How Advertising Introduced a Theatre

An Analysis of the Sound Psychological Background in the ODEON-TORONTO Campaign

Building a new theatre is an engineering and artistic triumph. Getting that same theatre known and accepted is a work of art in psychology, or advertising to call it by its usual name. Since the advertising campaign of the Odeon-Toronto has been fully documented, it is possible to describe here its day-by-day progress and to discuss its general themes. This campaign was characterized mainly by its dignity, restraint and its constant and undeviating good taste, none of which admirable qualities interfered in the least with its essential high potency.


In the newspaper advertising cama paign created for the purpose of introducing the new two-million dollar OdeonToronto Theatre, largest and most elab ' orate post-war film house to be built in Canada, continual emphasis was placed on the quasi-slogan uShowplace of the Dominionli and the claim, quoted from experts, that the new theatre was tone of the five most distinguished cinemas in the world."

The campaign avoided any reference to the cost of the structure. With building costs zooming into the stratosphere and beyond, this previously valid approach was omitted because in 1948 it was meaningless. Rather, it was deter mined that dignity and not flamboyance would be the continual key-note running through the series of advertisements.

Setting the Theme

This meant some striking changes in policy. Like avoiding the traditional use of a front view photograph of the new theatre, surrounded by masses of reading mattereusually dragging out once more all the overworked adjectives of exaggerationeand making much use of black-and-white reverse type. Instead of the old routine, a new principle of moderation was adopted. Instead of black and white extremes, the use of hen-day was adhered to throughout the entire newspaper campaign. In fact, an attempt, and a successful one, was made to abstain as much as possible from the use of sheer black, with the reasoning that reader attention would be more effectively attracted by a maximum use of gray with white borders.

From the standpoint of psychology, it was recognized that the theatre-goer of today knows little of the manifold technicalities involved in theatre design and operation; but that he is extremely interested in such factors if these are

explained in simple non-technical language. This includes not only the engineering details of heating and airconditioning but also the problems of acoustics and optics, the difiiculties of film projection, and the effect of color on the emotions. The Odeon-Toronto campaign, directed by men who realized the presence of this innate desire for information, made full use of the explanatory technique. This was the reason why the story of the new Showplace and its various activities was told in the straight forward, non-technical prose; and why such hackneyed and oven worked adjectives as tide luxeil, Hcolossal", and ffmagnificentll were deliberately and enthusiastically discarded.

On the occasion of the opening of the Odeon-Toronto, the governing advertis

OPENING SALVO OF THE CAMPAIGN was this often repeated cryptic brace of teaser bold letters.

ing theme-.and point of saleewas the theatre itself rather than the opening hlm attraction. The number one tagline, used consistently throughout the latter part of the newspaper advertising campaign, was "Showplace of the Dominion" (already alluded to); and, in order to positively attract reader attention, all surrounding copy was kept to a minimumewith a message that could be read in 15 seconds.

Still s t r e s s i n g the architectural uniqueness and beauty of the building itself, a ll advertisements after the teaser campaign precedingefeatured a rendering of the nine-story tower which, with its ten-foot high blue letters and neon gold lighting, is now a distinguishing landmark on the midtown Toronto skyline. In addition to announcements of the new theatrels approaching opening and its architectural splendors within and without, the campaign manifestly stressed the actual location of the house in the city of Toronto. While the YongeCarlton intersection is well-known to Toronto residents, it was remembered that

the circulation of the three Toronto daily newspapers covered a wide radius and that the theatres potential clientele lay not only in the urban limits, but even more important, within all the fifty-mile surrounding area.

The Physical Execution

An analysis of the different advertisements in the same sequence in which they originally appeared will make clear how the series was ingeniously con structed to project the maximum interest, create the maximum Suspense, and generate the maximum anticipation among the greatest number of potential patrons.

Advance Teasers

lTWo-and-aehalf weeks before the theatrels scheduled opening, a bold in-T" almost 9/4 of an inch tall, simulating the design of the letters on the actual theatre sign, set in an island of white space one column wide and 15/3 inches deep, was inserted in the three Toronto daily newspapers-Toronto Daily Star, Toronto Globe & Mail, and Toronto Telegramefor six consecutive days.

The juxtaposition and exploitation of the two letters tiO-T" became the keynote of the teaser campaign. Because the Odeon-Toronto was scheduled to

open on a Thursday night with thliver

THE "O-T" THEME DEVELOPS with variations of the same initials devoted to other saleable facts.

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1948-49 Theatre Catalog, 7th Edition, Page 505