Hot promotions: Summer movies inspire creative tie-ins

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It’s that time again: hot weather and summer vacations. What does it mean for the U.S. cinema industry? More leisure time to make a trip to the movies, and the studios have quite a lineup for the 2009 summer season. Box office and attendance numbers for 2009 are already well ahead of last year and the slate of movies coming in the next four months should definitely keep the momentum going. The promotions that accompany them are also impressive.

There will be sequels like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and prequels like Star Trek and Wolverine. Many other movies are originals that have created quite the buzz in Internet tracking, such as G-Force, scheduled for release in July by Disney.

We know in the concession business that action-packed thrillers such as the ones mentioned above are great for creating concession revenue. Why? They attract the demographic that is going to stop and buy concessions to chomp on while they are entertained.

But just in case this correlation doesn’t create enough demand, we are going to put those promotions out there to make sure we reel them in! Promotions in all sizes and shapes are going to be out in the market for the summer season: cups, bags, trays, toppers, giveaways, special candy and, of course, the combos. Theatre chains of all sizes have chosen different offerings from suppliers and are ready to wow the consumer.

There are special print concession packaging programs for just about every wide release film this summer. Packaging companies such as PCI and Frankston, along with promotional companies such as NCM and Cinema Scene, have all developed containers that will be in theatres with the movie release. In the first wave, Battle for Terra, Wolverine and Star Trek all have packaging associated with them, and I could keep adding to this list for the rest of the summer slate. Kids’ trays are in full force with movies such as Disney’s Up and Fox’s Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. There are also kids’ trays available that are subsidized by the candy companies themselves, as opposed to the studios. One of these is distributed by AICP, for the Airheads Extreme product.

The distribution channel has adjusted to the regular exchange of stock product for film marketing product. But the summer movie blitz still kicks it up a level. These products add value to the consumer’s purchase and enhance the overall experience, and this makes it well worth the effort to continue, even before you consider the financial exchange with the studios for film marketing. Some of the packaging is also plastic, to take away from the theatre and keep. Another keeper is the increasingly popular plastic topper on top of the drink cup. Golden Link is supplying a topper with Up, opening internationally on May 29.

But the candy category will not be overshadowed. The Star Trek movie has its own gummy candy being distributed by Taste of Nature to movie theatres for the big crowd that will support this re-imagining of the classic sci-fi series. To kick it up even further, Hershey is conducting an incredible Night at the Museum sweepstakes to accompany the release of Fox’s comedy-fantasy sequel. They are offering many prizes such as projectors, cash and Visa gift cards, but the grand prize is a family adventure at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, including a most special overnight stay inside the Museum. Chances to win are located inside specially marked packages of Hershey candy such as Almond Joy, Kit Kat, Hershey Kisses and many other brands, available at many retail outlets.

Hershey just may outshine their last big promotion. Last summer, the venerable candy company ran a very large Dark Knight promotion, giving away a motorcycle as its grand prize. This summer they are back in the game with a unique offering that is a complete tie-in to the theme of the museum movie. It’s a great way to get the audience excited about the film, with a chance at an amazing experience at the Smithsonian.

There are many other film promotion tie-ins that bring the consumer into the theatre for the film and give the concession operator the chance to sell. The summer blockbuster schedule runs through August and there are many opportunities for theatres of all sizes to participate in both supplier and studio-sponsored promotions.

If you have any questions about the Hershey promotion, please visit www.hersheys.com. If you would like more information about the Star Trek promotion, please visit www.candyasap.com. And if you want to know more about the Airheads Extreme kids’ tray, visit www.aicpcorp.com.

Please send any comments to Anita Watts at anitaw@reactornet.com.