But that's precisely what 20th Century Fox was aiming for when it came time to market its new Doug Liman-helmed sci-fi actioner "Jumper," opening Feb. 14.
In the film's theatrical trailer, the lead character, played by Hayden Christensen, is able to teleport seamlessly from place to place at a moment's notice, everywhere from London's Big Ben to the pyramids of Egypt.
Jumping into TV
On TV, however, you might have seen Mr. Christensen crop up in a familiar Hewlett-Packard ad starring Serena Williams. The 90-second spots start out as a trailer for "Jumper" before Mr. Christensen turns on his TV and suddenly finds himself walking around and interacting with the tennis pro in her shape-shifting ad. By the time Ms. Williams says, "Hey get outta here!" you know you've just witnessed a unique approach to integrated marketing.
Cheryl Idell, exec VP-media and marketing planning for 20th Century Fox, said the concept of having Mr. Christensen interact with an existing ad originated in the marketing brainstorming process, long after the HP spot with Ms. Williams had first aired.
"We wanted to market and communicate the idea of jumping. We're always looking at ways to break through the clutter of traditional ads and ad spots that are so easily ignored and come up with a way to make messaging so engaging and putting those two spots together," she said. Plus, it was crucial to staying true to the film's storyline. "The technical rule [of 'Jumper'] is you can't go anywhere you haven't already seen. It was strategic and practical."
Reaching out to media agency
The folks at Fox then reached out to their media agency, Zenith Optimedia, which happens to have HP as a client as well. From there, the conversation to merge ads for the two clients got under way rather quickly. For HP, the idea even made sense technically, because Ms. Williams had to film her green-screened ad in several "layers" to make all the moving parts and scene changes flow seamlessly. Fox was then able to shoot Mr. Christensen separately against its own green screen and essentially graft his footage on to the existing scenes with Ms. Williams. Only one line had to be re-recorded -- the aforementioned "Hey, get outta here!"
Hybrid ads merging content and brand have been employed by studios and TV networks alike for quite some time to plug the integration between a show and its sponsor during the commercial break. But recently the model has evolved to include brands and shows that otherwise have no in-show integration affiliation together. NBC, for example, tapped Sprint for a hybrid ad to promote its "build your own character" mobile feature for "Heroes."
That was the case with "Jumper" as well, which doesn't feature any HP products in the film itself. "It truly was a partnership of marketing strategies," Ms. Idell said.
Although the film doesn't open for another three weeks, David Roman, VP-worldwide marketing communications for HP's personal systems group, said he already feels like the spot has been a success due to the active consumer interest online.
"You get to see quickly where people are sending it out on YouTube, if they're going around talking about it and get quite a good buzz. If the film does well, it'll be a true brand partnership in that we both get a benefit out of it. It really is a case where one plus one equals three."
HP's co-branded partnerships
HP has done its fair share of co-branded partnerships in the past, most notably with MTV for its "Meet or Delete" college dating series. But as the writers strike forces the brand to rethink its media strategy, future integrations may start to appear in media other than TV. Mr. Roman said nearly half of HP's media budget is already spent online in order to more specifically reach its target youth demo, and that percentage could soon increase. "If TV takes anymore blows in the U.S., it's pretty easy to see how you can move that content over to the web. There are many different ways to reach those audiences."
Ms. Idell, meanwhile, said Fox's movie-marketing strategy isn't likely to change just yet. "We have to open our movies all year long, and the networks are doing their best to put original programming on the air and keep it fresh." The movie studio also has the benefit of being under the News Corp. umbrella, where networks such as Fox and FX are well positioned to keep high-rated programming on the air throughout the spring. "Our goal is always to sell each movie, come up with ideas and a marketing strategy that's best for each movie and what the best environment at the time might be, yet taking the issues of the strike into account also."