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Brave new world for summer tie-ins

Gail Schiller/Rueters
May 30, 2006

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Big summer films such as "Superman Returns" and "Cars" are looking further afield than traditional marketing partners like McDonald's, Burger King and PepsiCo as they try to reach niche markets -- and figure out how to deal with media attention on junk food and obesity.

"All the studios are aware that childhood obesity is an issue," one studio promotions executive said. "They're slowly starting to figure out what they want to do but there hasn't been a shift yet. People are just more aware of it."

More to the point, entertainment marketers and studio executives say they are seeking deals with unconventional brands and nontraditional partners in an attempt to reach as many moviegoers as possible.

Disney/Pixar's June 7 release "Cars" has lined up 17 promotional partners for what is being described as the biggest and broadest campaign in Disney history. More traditional partners include McDonald's, AT&T, Georgia-Pacific, Kellogg's and General Mills' Go-Gurt brand.

The other partners, many of them relatively new to the film business, are State Farm, Hertz, Goodyear, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Energizer, Valvoline, Mack Trucks,, Porsche, Airheads Candy, Intelligent Direct Marketing and NWA World Vacations.

Only four of the 17 tie-in partners for "Cars" sell products or developed promotional programs geared specifically for children as even family movies broaden their reach far beyond traditional kid-targeted brands.

"There are more and more promotions happening with companies that haven't done film tie-ins before as Hollywood reaches out to consumers in new and interesting ways," said Brett Dicker, marketing executive vp at Disney's Buena Vista Pictures unit.

Disney's July 7 release "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" is launching a big promotional program in the summer, though Disney said it was too early to provide specifics. McDonald's, Verizon, MSN and M&M's are on board, along with a number of other partners.

"Superman Returns," which opens June 30, has teamed with such traditional movie partners as Burger King and PepsiCo., whose promotion also includes PepsiCo. brands Tropicana, Quaker, Aquafina and Frito-Lay. Other promotional partners are Duracell, the Got Milk campaign, Samsung,, the Newspaper Association of America and Quaker State Oil, which said "Superman Returns" is its first-ever movie tie-in.

The increased competition for brand marketing dollars from television, the Internet, music and video games also is leading studios to hook up with a growing number of unconventional promotional partners.

For "Over the Hedge," DreamWorks Animation worked with Wal-Mart to integrate several of the retailer's own suppliers into Wal-Mart's "Hedge" custom-animated TV spots. Hanes Tagless Tees, Diet Pepsi, Frito-Lay Baked Cheetos, Gatorade, Oscar Meyer beef franks, HP digital cameras and Coleman Coolers all were featured in Wal-Mart's summer-themed "Hedge" spots.

Universal Pictures, along with such promotional partners as Anheuser Busch and MasterCard, came up with some intriguing concepts for "The Break-Up," which opens June 2.

Budweiser is hosting a "National Break Up Day" microsite for the Jennifer Anniston film that includes such features as community postings of the worst break-up stories and the best ways to break up; compatibility quizzes, e-cards and other viral tools to facilitate actual breakups and a "photochop" application that allows users to scratch, replace, burn, tear or mark up the faces of their former loves.

MasterCard's promotion includes a special edition Zagat guide incorporating ideal restaurants for breakups that will be inserted into magazines in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

For "The Da Vinci Code," Sony Pictures partnered with the Eurostar train rail system, the tourism boards for the U.K., France and Ireland, Symantec, Cingular, Google, Sony Ericsson and DaimlerChrysler's Smart Car, which was featured in the movie.

Warner Bros. even managed to set up a unique tie-in for "Poseidon," the disaster movie that quickly sank at the box office. Ike Behar shirts, which were worn by Josh Lucas and Kurt Russell in the movie, ran co-branded print ads in a number of fashion magazines and an in-store promotional program at Nordstom.


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