DreamWorks has assembled an aggressive marketing campaign for its upcoming animated film, "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," with many of its wide-ranging tie-ins including a social, mobile or online component.
The studio still relies heavily on traditional media and promotions to publicize its movies, but has been gradually seeking more interactivity. "We are migrating more and more of our budget to online and digital," said Anne Globe, chief marketing officer at DreamWorks. "There's a higher level of engagement here than with traditional media. It gives the audience the opportunity to engage with characters for a longer period of time. It is a stickier environment that facilitates intense engagement."
DreamWorks struck a deal with Dole, for example, to put stickers on 100 million bananas in a reference to the aviator monkeys who attack the movie's villain with a banana cannon. The stickers also contain QR codes that direct customers to the "Madagascar: Join the Circus" mobile game.
The movie sees its characters join a traveling circus as they try to make their way home across Europe.
DreamWorks has been working closely with gaming partners, most notably Zynga, as a vehicle to promote its recent movies. For "Madagascar 3," Zynga introduced a version of its Draw Something app called Draw Something: Madagascar, which features movie-themed words and characters players can draw.
DreamWorks has worked with Zynga two times in the past, partnering with FarmVille for "Megamind" and CityVille for "Kung Fu Panda 2."
"Kids are always on the cutting edge of what's hot and what's new," Ms. Globe said, referring to Zynga's foothold on some of the most popular mobile and social games.
The Madagascar franchise has been lucrative for DreamWorks, but analysts worry that the franchise might be facing fatigue.
Janney Capital Markets analyst Tony Wible expects "Madagascar 3" to bring in $55 million during its U.S. opening weekend on Friday, he predicted in a research note last month, compared to a $47.2 million opening for the first movie and a $63.5 million opening for its sequel.
DreamWorks Animation's most recent film, "Puss in Boots," grossed $34 million on its domestic opening weekend, the softest opening for a DreamWorks Animation film in five years.
Here's a rundown of "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" partners beyond Dole and Zynga:
- Airheads will sell two new themed flavors -- Tutti Frutti and Strawberry Banana -- of chewy candy in Madagascar packaging for a limited time. It will also promote the film with a TV commercial, in-store displays and a contest for a hometown screening of the movie.
- Ice cream maker Blue Bunny is creating a tropical punch-and-orange flavored "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" penguin ice cream bar for sale exclusively at ice cream trucks.
- In its first tie-in with an entertainment product, Children's Claritin will include free "Madagascar" stickers with its Grape Chewables and Grape Syrup products. Children's Claritin is also using its Facebook page to offer a "Madagascar" activity guide and Circus Stackers game. Children's Claritin will promote the tie-in with online, TV and print advertising.
- Citi is holding screenings in Los Angeles and New York through its Citi Private Pass program.
- General Mills is selling fruit-flavored snacks in the shape of the movie's penguin characters.
- Tofu producer House Foods is featuring the aviator monkeys on 14 tofu products and promoting a "Mad About Tofu" recipe contest, with the grand prize a trip for four to Europe.
- Kraft is introducing Jell-O molds of six characters from "Madagascar 3." It will also feature themed packaging for two of its dry desserts, as well as in-store marketing and social media. And it will release Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with pasta in the shape of characters.
- L'Oreal is creating four "Madagascar 3" kids shampoos and conditioners with circus-themed floor and shelf displays at retail. The cosmetics and beauty company will also offer an online sweepstakes to win a Madagascar circus-themed bedroom makeover.
- Lowe's "Build and Grow" clinics for kids are getting their first entertainment tie-ins. The home-improvement retailer has also partnered with Nascar for a movie-themed racecar to be driven by Jimmie Johnson at its Dover race on Fox.
- McDonald's restaurants around the world are introducing a Madagascar Happy Meal with circus-themed toys and messages about healthful eating, promoted through an animated TV spot and online and in-store integrations.
- Lance Sandwich Crackers is promoting a Lance Big Top Sweepstakes on its website and Facebook page, with prizes including "Madagascar 3" video games and free movie passes. The tie-in also includes in-store displays, digital banners and a fan giveaway on the 5 Minutes for Mom online community.
- Some Sun-Maid product packaging is incorporating "Madagascar 3" and QR codes directing consumers to film-related content. Sun-Maid is also promoting a "Roar and Snore Safari Sleepover" sweepstakes.
- DreamWorks has ongoing partnerships with both Hewlett Packard and Intel, whose technology it uses in computer animation.
- "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" apparel includes T-shirts, backpacks and sleepwear.
- D3Publisher is releasing "Madagascar 3: The Video Game" for Nintendo Wii, 3DS and DS, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It also released a circus-building app for iPad, iPhone and iTouch.
- Hallmark is selling a line of "Madagascar 3" party goods, greeting cards and holiday ornaments.
- Toys "R" Us is selling "World of Madagascar" toys by Fisher-Price.
- And publishing tie-ins will include storybooks from Penguin Books, color and activity books from Dalmatian Press, a comic book from Ape Entertainment, a digital storybook app from iStoryTime and an Art Of book from Insight Editions.