Movie studios have supplied press-related
materials to the theatres and movie distributors since the early 1900’s. These
materials have been referred to a number of ways through the years. Terms
such as campaign book, merchandising manual, showman’s manual, campaign manual,
press kit, press book,
etc. have been used interchangeably. However, there are some specific differences
which are generally determined by the extent of the information and/or advertising
materials provided. One of the most comprehensive of these was the Campaign
Kit and the Campaign Book.
The campaign kit was extremely comprehensive
and elaborate. Unlike the press kits that are utilized today, a typical campaign
kit included a hardbound, full color campaign book (featuring the standard
press information such as full cast, story line, and star biographies) as
well as ad sheets; a breakdown of other available advertising materials; radio
commercial ideas; promotional games and ideas; contests, promotions, product
tie-ins; and movie merchandising ideas.
Many campaign kits included buttons, giveaways,
posters, negatives, etc. In short, a campaign book contained everything that
a theatre would need to promote a successful movie campaign.
Campaign kits were used
by movie studios as press materials as early as the 1910’s. Their
main purpose was to assist movie theatres and exhibitors with ideas for a
successful movie campaign. Since the success of the movie had a direct financial
impact on the studios, it was very important to them that movie theatres and
exhibitors had all the tools at their fingertips to promote a successful exhibition.
As the years went on and advertising budgets
decreased, the campaign kits and books became less elaborate. They were initially
used to give the illusion of grandeur, but slowly evolved into showman's manuals
and the present day press kit/press book. The elaborate campaign kit/campaign
book of yesteryear is no longer used by studios. However, a more compact version
of the campaign kit, which is commonly referred to as the press kit, is widely
used by all motion picture companies. The term "campaign kit" is rarely used
in today's movie market.
AS A COLLECTIBLE
Because the campaign book contained so
much information about a movie and its cast, campaign books are very popular
with some collectors. In many cases, these kits/books are the only evidence
of exactly what posters and related materials were released for a particular
film. In addition, the campaign book can provide a means for determining the
age of a poster if none is shown on the face of the poster. There are extremely
important to dating of movie materials.