Paramount Goes Beyond Expectations for 'Star Trek' Partnerships

Quicken Loans, Enterprise Rent-A-Car Among More Unusual Campaign Collaborators

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Paramount's partnership with HPE led to a TV spot that introduced 'The Machine.'
Paramount's partnership with HPE led to a TV spot that introduced 'The Machine.' 

Few franchises have played up the theme of technological innovation than futuristic "Star Trek." To capitalize on the release of the latest big screen saga "Star Trek Beyond" in theaters July 22, Paramount Pictures has established partnerships with brands such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise that are now running unique, Trekkie-themed works on various platforms.

"We really like to have the opportunity to connect with corporate brands that help us get a little more into the zeitgeist of pop culture and, as we say in the movie business, 'eventize' the films," said LeeAnne Stables, Paramount's President of Worldwide Marketing Partnerships and Licensing. Ms. Stables said Paramount's partnerships originated with her team, which reached out to brands that "share DNA" with a movie and they worked together to develop campaign tie-ins.

While some of the partner brands including Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Vizio and Microsoft's Bing reflect the movie's techy ethos clearly, others such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Quicken Loans might seem like less intuitive choices.

HPE's partnership with Paramount was particularly fruitful, as the IT company developed a TV spot for the campaign that introduces "The Machine," its own long-term data storage research project. According to Ms. Stables, HPE engineers served as "tech advisors" on set in Vancouver, which helped to bring the film's out-of-this-world technological concepts down to Earth by showing audiences "these things will be real in the future -- these things are being worked on by Hewlett Packard." She cited a scene in which a character is scanning someone for medical information as an example of a technological concept HPE helped develop for the film.

Paramount's collaboration with Vizio is similarly intuitive. The consumer electronics company gave its SmartCast app users access to the "Star Trek Beyond" trailer as well as re-graded versions of J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" and "Star Trek into Darkness."

For its part, Microsoft's Bing is displaying a storybook feature with movie content to users who search for "Star Trek Beyond" and featuring a "Guess the Star Trek Beyond character" trivia game on its website. Eastern Airlines, another collaborator, will wrap its 737 plane with "Star Trek Beyond" artwork.

The partnership with Quicken Loans, a mortgage lending company with no obvious tie-in to the world of Star Trek, emerged mostly because of its quick ascent in adland -- the company aired a spot during the Super Bowl this year -- and the recent roll out of its Rocket Mortgage product, which uses space-related themes that pair well with the film's content.

"We got to know them and spent some time trying to find some kind of hook that would work for them after we understood a little bit more about their business and the online mortgage process," Ms. Stables said, adding that Paramount ultimately hired Pitch to come up with the creative concept for Quicken Loans' Star Trek-themed spot in which two characteristically matter-of-fact Vulcans navigate homeownership on planet Earth.

Paramount worked with Enterprise Rent-A-Car because of its reach and its target demographics. The car rental service's TV spot was ultimately considered effective because it achieved the kind of customization Paramount was looking for in its partners. "You kind of look at all these partners and see they're all coming from different points of view, but they've customized something to sort of get on board with the excitement of what we're creating for the movie," Ms. Stables said.

Ultimately, according to Ms. Stables, the value of partnering with corporate brands for movie marketing is in how the relationships "elevate the film to more of a pop culture status." She added that while Paramount itself has invested heavily in promotion of the movie, it considers these corporate partnerships "money-can't-buy relationships."

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated Paramount hired a pitch agency to create Quicken Loans' Star Trek-themed spot. It hired the agency Pitch.

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