Sample Book Chapters
Chapter 5 - Tie-ins & Prod. Placement
Chapter summaries in this section of the website are distilled from 139,000 words in the book.
With Hollywood’s major studios spending billions of dollars annually on release prints and advertising in the United States and Canada, there’s pressure to enlist third parties to help carry the marketing load. Thus, film distributors turn to tie-in promotions, which are cross-marketing deals in which consumer-goods companies put movies in their ads. In exchange, the consumer-goods outfits get to associate their products with films, hoping that a little Hollywood magic will rub off.
Another type of promotion is the product placement, in which brand-name items are visible in the films themselves. Companies whose products are identifiable in films may provide some form of compensation, whether tie-in-promotion support (promoting a movie in their own advertising or putting movie promotions in stores), cash payments, and/or lots of free product/services to the film when it is in physical production.
For 2011 release Thor, Marvel Studios and Paramount corralled a handful of key promotion partners for the PG-13–rated film that grossed $181 million domestically. Key tie-in partners were Honda’s Acura luxury-car division, Dr. Pepper beverage and 7-Eleven convenience stores.
Such promotional tie-ins today are part of the Hollywood landscape, but the reality is that activity is off from a peak a few years earlier. Consumer-goods marketers came to dislike the unpredictable nature of films and their short lives in theaters. “Consumer companies and brands have heard a lot of movie pitches over the years,” said Terence Keegan, executive editor of newsletter Entertainment Marketing Letter. “The phrase you hear over and over from them is that the film property has to ‘fit the brand’ for a promotion to make sense.”
Movies compete for promo dollars against television programs, whose tie-ins are on the upswing. TV shows are suitable for real-time contests where viewers vote via mobile-phone e-mail SMS and on the Internet. Beverage giant Coca-Cola reportedly paid $20 million to tie up with Fox’s reality-TV series American Idol, getting drink cups with its red logo placed on the desks. American Idol TV commercials fetched $600,000 to $1.1 million per 30-seconds over the years, indicating value.
Contests are a staple of promotions, with consumer entries providing a measurement of consumer engagement. Farmers Insurance partnered with Twentieth Century Fox for a 2011 content tied to X-Men: First Class. The winner received roundtrip airfare to London, hotel, and a studio visit to re-create scenes from the sci-fi yarn.
Text copyright © 2013, Robert Marich. All rights reserved. Used here with permission from SIU Press.
Fig. 5.1. Marvel Studios regularly does promo deals allowing its movie characters to be used on collectible Slurpee plastic cups in a tie-in with 7-Eleven convenience stores. It’s unusual for stars to allow their actual images to be used in third-party promotions, but it happens occasionally.