Jelly Belly Creates a Line of Candy for Animated Film

Scenes Redone to Include Marketer's Logo in Children's Movie

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LOS ANGELES -- Your typical product placement usually has an existing product placed within a movie or TV show. But as part of a tie-in with Warner Bros.' upcoming animated film "The Ant Bully," Jelly Belly will integrate itself into key scenes of the film by creating a new product.
Jelly Belly's deal with the summer flick went beyond promotional buys. The candy maker is rolling out a new product based on its integration in the movie.

The studio also linked with Burger King, proving again that the major fast-food chains are highly desirable co-marketing partners for movies launching in peak summer windows. Burger King is not integrated into the film.

Generic or parody brands

Hollywood studios typically use either generic or parody brands in the place of real ones to stoke the fantasy or add an inside joke to all-family fare. But the script of "Ant Bully," which is based on a book by John Nickle, called for the ants in the film to move around some jelly beans in a team-building kind of exercise. The ants have a name for the beans -- "sweet rocks."

Enter the Jelly Belly Candy Co. of Fairfield, Calif., which doesn't make a product called "sweet rocks" but executives at the privately held company, a category leader, figured they could.

The talks between the studio and marketer turned into a licensing deal and a full-blown co-promotion for the film, which opens Aug. 4. Jelly Belly will launch its own branded Sweet Rocks with a multilayered retail and media campaign to coincide with the movie's release.

The generic jelly beans in the movie have been re-animated to take on the distinctive Jelly Belly shape, and they'll be stamped with the marketer's logo.

'Enhancing the experience'

"It doesn't really stand out as a plug," said Rob Swaigen, Jelly Belly's senior product manager. "The jelly beans play a significant role, and by branding them, it enhances the experience. The studio felt that it could improve the movie by using our brand, and we agreed."

The Sweet Rocks product, which has "Ant Bully"-appropriate flavors like caterpillar and lawn clippings, will remain part of the marketer's candy mix through the fourth quarter, when there will be another wave of promotion around the movie's DVD launch.

Jelly Belly has dipped into entertainment before, with much success. Through a relationship with toy conglomerate Hasbro, Jelly Belly created "Bertie Bott's Beans" as a licensed product around the "Harry Potter" property. That product, with its dirt and vomit flavors, has become a staple of the line. (There's no specific Jelly Belly product placement in the "Harry Potter" movies.)

'Curious George' breaks the mold

NBC Universal's Universal Pictures broke the mold earlier this year with some of the first brand integrations in a feature-length cartoon, using Volkswagen, the U.S. Postal Service and Dole in "Curious George." More studios are sure to follow suit.

Jelly Belly is the only brand name that appears in "Ant Bully."

"Because it was in the original script, we felt like it was a unique opportunity to bring in a marketer," said Gaetano Mastropasqua, Warner Bros.' senior VP-promotions. "But we weren't interested in putting more brands into the movie."
Jelly Belly's deal with the summer flick went beyond promotional buys. The candy maker is rolling out a new product based on its integration in the movie.

Many devoted Jelly Belly consumers are adults, who increasingly are fans of computer-generated animation, which tends to be layered with in-jokes and double meanings.

"A lot of the current animated movies bridge the gap between kids and adults, which is a perfect demo match for us," said Bob Simpson, Jelly Belly's chief operating officer.

Because "Ant Bully" is premiering during the cluttered summer time frame, Mr. Mastropasqua and his team felt it was vital to have a host of marketing partners to help launch the property. Burger King, a brass ring partner for family films, will mobilize its children's program in the U.S. and Canada, doling out premiums and supporting the movie with TV, print, online and other media.

Debate over fast food and junk food

The debate continues to rage around entertainment's ties to junk food and marketers' responsibility in advertising to children, but studio-promotions executives say it's difficult to open a major family movie without categories like fast food.

"It's a cue to consumers that this is a big movie they shouldn't miss," Mr. Mastropasqua said. "And when you tie with a McDonald's or a Burger King, your movie is omnipresent in their marketing materials."

That adds millions of media dollars and impressions to a studio's existing marketing spend, he said.

In addition to Burger King and Jelly Belly, Country Inns and Suites by Carlson is running a summer sweepstakes, reading program and family package themed to "Ant Bully." Langers will promote the movie on its fruit juice packages, and Icee plans to give "Ant Bully" a boost in convenience store and theaters. The DIY craft chain Color Me Mine plans themed parties and sweepstakes around the movie, and the Newspaper Association of America will run public service announcements about reading.

Such a lineup of partners helps a studio get its movie message into outlets it could not normally buy.

"Partners bring a significant amount of paid media, and they can give hundreds of millions of impressions beyond that," Mr. Mastropasqua said. "That can be just as valuable."
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