Unilever Hopes 'Mamma Mia!' Strikes Right Note for Pond's

Brand Not in Movie, but Heavily Involved in Marketing Effort

By Published on .

Reprints Reprints

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In the ensuing months since its integration into USA's hit Debra Messing-starring miniseries "The Starter Wife," Unilever's Pond's has been touted as one of the brands helping to set the stage for the new model of branded-entertainment marketing. Now get ready for Act Two.
Mamma Mia - Ponds
The marketing effort for the partnership between Pond's and 'Mamma Mia!' includes an online contest to vote for the next top singing Dynamo and a sweepstakes for a trip to the film's London premiere.
Related Story:
Ikea Joins Forces With 'Mamma Mia!' Movie
Swedish Pop Tunes a Natural Match for Swedish Furniture Outlet

Pond's is partnering with Universal Studios' "Mamma Mia!" (out July 18) for an extensive marketing campaign to cross-promote its Clean Sweep makeup removal towelettes. Although the brand will not be integrated into the film itself (unlike the customized "40 and Fabulous" storyline it received in "Starter Wife" last summer), Pond's is attaching itself to virtually every other element of the movie's marketing. The effort includes an online contest to vote for the next top singing Dynamo (like the movie's Abba-loving mothers played by Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters) and a sweepstakes for a trip to the film's London premiere. The company is also touting Ms. Baranski, the film's 56-year-old co-star, as the ideal Pond's woman with a career thriving well past her 40s.

Seeking relevance
Choosing relevant entertainment projects to align Pond's marketing stories has become the core part of the marketing model for Srini Sripada, Unilever's marketing director for Pond's. After the brand was able to directly attribute a lift in product sales to the "Starter Wife" campaign, in which it employed on-air, online and in-store via point-of-purchase signage, a search began to find the next major women-targeted property to which the brand could be attached. "Advertising as we look at it is sort of a message delivery, and one could argue in a non-contextual environment. The properties we look for are very context-rich areas to deliver our message," Mr. Sripada said. "We know our target audience is 40-something, sexy, sassy, confident women. So what we're looking for are the contexts we want to drive or message to."

Part of that context includes creating the first recordable print ad, currently available in the June 16 issue of People on newsstands now, with which aspiring Dynamos can record themselves singing the movie's title song (or any other Abba hit, for that matter). Said Mr. Sripada, "'Mamma Mia' is all about music, and music is literally part and parcel for our target consumer. We understand to bring it into their life though advertising and its execution really brings it home for them."

Universal, for its part, has been using its in-house partnerships division to create more marketing tie-ins with advertisers so both brands have a stake in the movie's ultimate success or failure.

Hits and misses
Time Warner has seen the same marketing model work for and against it lately with the flop of "Speed Racer," despite tie-ins with major brands like McDonald's, Target and General Mills, and the smash success of "Sex and the City," which teamed up with the likes of Skyy Vodka, VitaminWater and Mercedes-Benz to get the word out.
As 'The Devil Wears Prada' proved two summers ago, never underestimate the power of the movie's Meryl Streep, another celebrity in the key Pond's demographic, as a box-office draw.
As 'The Devil Wears Prada' proved two summers ago, never underestimate the power of the movie's Meryl Streep, another celebrity in the key Pond's demographic, as a box-office draw. Credit: Universal Studios

Stephanie Sperber, exec VP-Universal Studios Partnerships, said of the Pond's co-promotion, "The product's core audience reaches a similar demographic as the film targets. As a partner, Unilever has been both strategic and supportive when it comes to their efforts related to our film."

As for the box-office prospects of "Mamma Mia!" recent Broadway-to-big screen transitions would seem to bode well for its success. Last summer's big musical-cum-movie, "Hairspray," grossed $118.8 million on the strength of the show's sustained Great White Way relevance and the presence of stars like John Travolta and Zac Efron. Despite its more female target, "Mamma Mia!" has been a $2 billion-grossing hit since its debut in 1999, and a 7-year-old nationwide tour has kept the show top of mind for theatergoers and Abba fans alike. Plus, as "The Devil Wears Prada" proved two summers ago, never underestimate the power of the movie's Meryl Streep, another celebrity in the key Pond's demographic, as a box-office draw.
In this article:
Most Popular