LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- As Dreamworks Animation's head of worldwide marketing and consumer products, Anne Globe's name is fitting. In that role since January 2007, Ms. Globe is charged with creating marketing, licensing and brand-extension strategies that will give films legs that stretch far beyond the opening weekend. A 13-year veteran of the 15-year-old DreamWorks Studios—DreamWorks Animation became a separate publicly traded company in October 2004—Ms. Globe has overseen merchandising and promotional activities for such animated franchises as "Shrek" and "Madagascar" and their accompanying TV specials, consumer products and marketing tie-ins. More recently, she's been instrumental in carrying out the studio's long-term commitment to 3-D, an initiative spearheaded by her boss and DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg that kicked off earlier this year with the release of "Monsters vs. Aliens."
That film presented a dual challenge to Ms. Globe, charged with launching a non-sequel original film produced in a technology that had been considered a novelty at best since the 1960s. But her brainchild, a splashy marketing campaign that included a 3-D ad break developed with partners Intel and Pepsi that kicked off during the 2009 Super Bowl and included a retail giveaway of more than 125 million pairs of 3-D glasses, helped the film debut to $59 million and a cumulative gross of $198 million. Although only 28% of the 7,300 screens "Monsters" played on were 3-D enabled, the technology accounted for 56% of the film's March 27 opening-weekend ticket sales, an impressive feat considering tickets were priced as much as $4 higher than 2-D tickets.
Indeed, despite recessionary constraints, "we've seen no resistance to the price premium," Ms. Globe said. "We did exit research after 'Monsters vs. Aliens' opened confirming that audiences were willing to pay the premium and saw the value in the 3-D presentation."
As DreamWorks preps the release of three new 3-D releases in 2010—March's "How to Train Your Dragon," May's "Shrek Forever After" and November's "Megamind"—Ms. Globe and her media-buying allies at Mediaedge:cia will be pushing the studio's $175 million global budget to work even harder.
Advertising Age caught up with Ms. Globe on the DreamWorks Animation lot in Glendale, Calif., on the eve of the studio's latest brand extension, "Merry Madagascar," a TV special/DVD release accompanied by a major retail partnership with Walmart, the studio's first, and packaged-food tie-ins with Kellogg's.
Ad Age:You began the year by taking the biggest risk in DreamWorks' history by releasing "Monsters vs. Aliens" to a movie-going public that had yet to embrace 3-D as something for which they were willing to pay a premium. How did the Super Bowl help that risk pay off for you as a launch event?
Ms. Globe: It was seen as a bold move at the time, but seeing that kind of success for our first movie has us excited about [3-D's] potential. The focus for us is creativity and innovation and some risk-taking associated with that. The Super Bowl campaign was an example of our trying to find a creative big idea to get the word out about our first movie in 3-D.
We did a lot of work on the PR front in educating people on what was new about this, how this wasn't your father's 3-D.
On the marketing side, it was debated internally because bringing 3-D content to television was a different process than [bringing it to] theaters, and creating a 90-second spot in 3-D had not been done before. And then distributing 125 million pairs of glasses at retail had certainly not been done before—and I daresay won't be done again—but we had terrific partners in Pepsi that helped us get that done. Coming out of the Super Bowl our awareness grew by 70%. For a new product, it was a risky strategy that paid off in the end.
Ad Age: You have several multiplatform franchises in "Shrek," "Madagascar," and now "Kung Fu Panda," for which you have a virtual world set to launch in 2010, a sequel in 2011 and a TV pilot in the works. At what point in a movie's release schedule do you decide it's become more than a film but a product?
Ms. Globe: You certainly have a terrific gauge with opening-weekend exit polls to see if audiences are responding well. And you have to keep following those as it plays on in the weeks to come. But it doesn't end there, because you have to look globally to see if we have an equally positive response. But you do have a sense in those first couple of months if it's something we can continue, and if there's different storytelling we can put out there.
Ad Age: What kind of metrics are you putting in place as a studio to help you gauge that these brand extensions are working?
Ms. Globe: You have to start with a successful film product. And then that gives you the opportunity to really look at the stories, which are typically 80 to 85 minutes in feature form, so there's often more story to tell beyond the feature story that's been conceived. There might be some additional questions we ask beyond that, like, "are there characters like the 'Penguins of Madagascar' on Nickelodeon?" or "might there be some environment like a TV special?" We're mapping out how we want the story to continue visually; the business is the continuation of that story.
Ad Age: Much has been made of digital and social media's ability to make or break a film's success at the box office faster than ever before. Is that true for animated movies, and how are you harnessing those tools?
Ms. Globe: We've been able to do some out-of-the-box things we wouldn't normally do. For "Monsters vs. Aliens," we created a viral monster-conspiracy site that we did not admit was ours at the time. There's a double-edged sword to doing things like that, because word-of-mouth is spread so rapidly now. But the great news is, if your movie is good, you literally couldn't buy a better tool for your movie.
There are new rich-media opportunities that offer a different way to connect, whether it's through Facebook or creating custom games. But we're sticking with some of our favorite channels like banner ads and home-page takeovers, too. We can talk to our audience so quickly and in such a targeted manner online, so you'll see a spending shift occurring, but our budget overall will finish about the same year-over-year.
Ad Age: Pepsi and Intel helped you do some of the heavy lifting in terms of getting the word out about 3-D. Where do you find the value in marketing partnerships at a time where everyone's dollars are stretched?
Ms. Globe: You learn so much about each other when you market both of your products. Whether it's for events like with Intel and Pepsi at the Super Bowl, or if it's seasonally like with Kellogg's and Walmart, marketing partners are certainly going to be a part of our media mix going forward.
For consumer packaged goods brands, it's a way for them to get a lift from something coming into the popular culture. The characters in "Madagascar" lend themselves to great entertainment content and different products. And when you have a movie and then a TV special and then a DVD you have to bring those things together in the marketplace so that all of that works harmoniously. The value for Walmart is it gives a theme to the holiday message for them—it took a big leap of faith on their part to dedicate all the in-store real estate and signage; their execution was really impressive. And nobody knows their customer better than Walmart, so this was a lot of fun.