June 25, 2011Ken Amorosano and I flew to Denver yesterday morning. Got an Avis rental car and drove downtown Denver for a meeting with longtime True West ambassador Rob B. We were meeting him at Ted's Montana Steakhouse (yes, Ted Turner's concept restaurant) and as we waded into the downtown area Ken mentioned that parking in that area of downtown Denver is really a beech. Lots of construction and tons of lunchtime traffic. We decided to bite the bullet and park in one of those $5 lots where you put your money in an automated box. As we stood in front of the contraption trying to figure out the mechanics of how it worked, I saw a street person approaching on my left (just out of my vison but I sensed his "incoming" body language). I braced for the inevitable come on, but when I looked up I saw a clean cut young kid in a gray jump suit with two logos, one on the each side of his chest: One was for Pixar and the other said Cars II.
He had a roll of quarters in his hand and he said, "Can I help you pay for this parking?" Both Ken and I looked at him with unbridled cynicism and Ken, who's from New York, sneered, "What's the catch?" The kid said, "No catch, we're just helping people park and getting the word out that Cars II opens today. It would be great if you went to see it, but this is on us."
At least 20 quarters later, he walked off and I saw him helping a woman who had just parallel parked down the block. This sounds ridiculous, but I felt a sudden surge of empathy for Pixar and a movie I had no intention of seeing. "I'm going to see that movie," I said, touched by the crass, but obvious good will the act generated. Amazing. Genius marketing and I would have never green lit the idea—"See, we're going to dress kids up in jump suits, give them a bunch of quarters and help people park in congested urban areas. It will really help the opening day grosses for the film."
Right. On this crazy, snide planet? That would have been my response to the concept if it was pitched to me. But, here I am, talking about the whole thing to you. Those Pixar bastards are scary brilliant.
Speaking of kids and brilliant marketing, we are here to attend the auction tonight for the Billy the Kid photo. Rumors buzzing everywhere. Big guns in town, even heard a rumor an oil rich Arab is going to buy the photo and take it to Dubai (Bye Bye Billy Dubai).
I'm filming a special True West Moment for the Westerns Channel, and Ken is uploading video we shot yesterday. We interviewed Brian Lebel and Bob McCubbin.
"Not promoting is like kissing in a closet. You know what you're doing but nobody else does."
—Old Vaquero Saying