Brad Pitt Alert: Is Sony's lengthy 'Moneyball' ad really on the money?

Brad+pitt This is the time of year, with the major league trading deadline looming, when baseball fans like me are usually noisily debating the merits of the latest potential big deal. How much will the Phillies give to the Astros for Hunter Pence? Will the Braves swap a boatload of prospects for B.J. Upton? And will the Dodgers unload half their infield in return for a decent young minor league pitcher?

Sports talk radio fans everywhere are still having plenty of those discussions. But they've also turned into amateur film critics, arguing about the merits of Sony's new "Moneyball" TV spot that has been playing incessantly on the MLB Channel. If one thing stands out about the ad, besides the fact that Brad Pitt seems to effortlessly capture the cockiness and charm of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, the real-life character Pitt plays in the film, it's the ad's sheer length. In today's attention-deficit culture, most TV ads for an upcoming film range in length from 10 to 30 seconds. That was the length of the "Moneyball" spot that debuted during the major league home run derby contest earlier this month.

But the "Moneyball" spots that have been airing virtually every night on MLB are a whopping 120 seconds long, nearly the length of a regular theatrical trailer. What is Sony up to? Marc Weinstock, the studio's marketing chief, isn't talking, preferring to let the spots speak for themselves. But after talking to a few rival marketers, I got a pretty good idea of what's going on.

As it turns out, MLB, being a modestly rated cable channel, doesn't charge a lot for its ad time. Since the price is right, Sony can afford to buy a lot of relatively cheap media

Film Patrick Goldstein
07/28/2011 18:00

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