A 'Curious' promo strategy for
By Gail Schiller
Reuters, February 8, 2006
ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - In a
rare move for an animated film,
Universal Pictures' "Curious George"
has integrated Volkswagen, Dole
bananas and the U.S. Postal Service
into the movie, which opens Friday.
While many animated movies depict
fantastical worlds that don't
usually lend themselves to
real-world product placements,
"Curious George," with its realistic
city setting, was an ideal film for
product placement, said Stephanie
Sperber, executive vp partnerships
at Universal Studios.
"It really is hard to do placements
in animated movies," Sperber said.
"But the way 'Curious George' was
written provided a few key scenes
that were appropriate for Volkswagen
and Dole. 'Curious George' is not a
fantasy with a capital 'F.' It takes
place close to the real world, so it
does lend itself to product
placement more than most animated
The two- to three-year lead time
usually needed for animated films
frequently hinders advertisers from
partnering with animated fare
because their marketing plans and
even their products could change by
the time the movie comes out.
Release dates also tend to shift
more with animated fare than with
live-action movies, creating yet
another obstacle for brands that
need to time their marketing plans
to a movie's opening.
Advertisers also need to be willing
to allow their products to be shaped
and styled to fit the animated style
of a particular movie. Sperber said
the fact that "Curious George" is
such a well-known and beloved
property made it easier for
advertisers to tie into the movie so
far in advance.
In "Curious George," the Man in the
Yellow Hat drives a Volkswagen
Touareg based on a real-world design
of a Touareg concept vehicle. "We
took the Touareg and adapted that
car design to suit the needs of the
film," Sperber said, noting that the
filmmakers needed a pickup
truck-type vehicle that could carry
George and his so-called
Volkswagen is not promoting "Curious
George" but might partner with the
movie's DVD release, Sperber said.
For its part, Dole, which is
promoting the movie with "Curious
George" stickers placed on 100
million bananas in grocery stores
nationwide, has its logo depicted on
numerous fruit and vegetable crates
during two scenes.
A U.S. Postal Service mailman and
mailbox also are depicted in the
movie. The USPS licensed "Curious
George" for its Favorite Children's
Book Animals commemorative postage
stamp pane but is not a promotional
partner for the movie.