Kimberly-Clark Corp. is counting on "Cars 2" to be a huge sales driver this summer, backing the film with its biggest multibrand retail-marketing program in eight years.
The company's global marketing push behind the June 2 Disney-Pixar release, which the studio bills as its biggest animated feature release ever, encompasses six of K-C's diaper, tissue and towel brands. The effort is one of a growing number of "scale" events in which packaged-goods marketers combine multiple brands behind entertainment and sports properties in hopes of capturing the attention of major retailers. In other words, the war in the store is increasingly starting at the movie theater or the stadium.
"We look at multibrand really from a retail and shopper-marketing perspective," said Enterprise Integrated Marketing Planning Director Deborah Hannah, who said this is the largest program she has been involved in during her nearly eight years at K-C. "It's much more powerful if we can go with a proposition that says we're going to be about 'Cars 2' and we've got a lot of brands participating and can really build basket size, trips, etc."
The "Cars 2" tie-in has had more appeal than usual, she said, with 22 retail chains participating. That reflects more buy-in by regional players beyond big national players such as Walmart, Target and Kroger Co., which are usually the main players in such promotions, she said.
K-C also is extending the program globally with similar efforts behind the simultaneous launch of "Cars 2" in Latin America, Europe, South Africa and Australia.
In the U.S., K-C is backing the program with cinema ads, a national newspaper coupon insert and direct-mail program, ads on the Walmart's in-store TV network and a wide range of in-store ads. A social-media component includes working with five leading parenting bloggers to host a "Cars 2" contest.
The promotion includes 3-D glasses embedded in the "surfboard" cardboard strip on 1.2 million boxes of Kleenex that can be used along with a code provided on the strip to access an online 3-D "Cars 2" e-book on a Disney website. It also includes a multibrand reward program in which buyers of participating Huggies, Pull-Ups, Scott, Cottonelle, Viva and Kleenex products can redeem points at participating retailers or online at Kimberly-Clark.com/Cars2 through Sept. 30 to get die-cast Mattel cars, Crayola giant coloring pages, Visa prepaid cards or "Cars 2" movie vouchers.
K-C, pleased by results from a tie-in for Huggies and Pull-Ups with "Toy Story 3" last year, wanted to extend coverage to additional brands this year. That K-C is already one of the biggest licensing partners for Disney licensed characters via its Huggies and Pull-Ups brands makes it a natural fit, Ms. Hannah said. In this case, the deal will extend the licensing relationship to putting "Cars 2" characters on packages of things such as Scott towels in addition to the children's products.
The creative behind the program focuses mainly on the individual brands, Ms. Hannah said, though the corporate umbrella is more visible than usual in K-C marketing, including the group website for the promotion.
Presumably, though, K-C is taking a chance by tying so many brands to one entertainment property -- what if the film fails at the box office? There's a lot less risk than one might think, said Devery Holmes, CEO of Spark Alliance Marketing, a Calabas, Calif.-based entertainment-marketing firm. "The anticipation and excitement of a property and a film that 's coming out and that relationship the consumer has is what drives awareness interest," she said. "I've had more successful campaigns, believe it or not, with films that have not delivered, but the anticipation and excitement were there."
As with the case of K-C and "Cars 2," the promotional programs generally start weeks before the film opens, she said, which mitigates potential fallout should it not generate much opening-week buzz.