A recent study by Integrated Media Measurement Inc., a San Mateo, Calif., company that studies links between media exposure and consumer action, found that consumers who saw ads that tied "The Simpsons Movie" to Burger King were 40% more likely to see the film than people who were exposed to only regular commercials for the popular movie.
The data were collected by a panel outfitted with cellphones equipped with technology that created a "digital signature" of all the available media to which they were exposed. Based on a timeline of when the media were viewed or heard, IMMI can determine viewing audiences as well as certain types of consumer behavior.
Going to the movies
When it came to the "Simpsons"/Burger King ad, IMMI panelists experienced either a TV, radio or in-theater trailer ad an average of 6.1 times between July 4 and August 9, and 9.1% of those people went to see the movie. According to IMMI, 13.3% of its panelists who saw the Burger King ad in addition to regular movie ads were 40% more likely to go see the film than those exposed to TV, radio and in-theater trailers promoting only the movie.
Promotion for "The Simpsons Movie" also included viral efforts, such as YouTube videos of large pink doughnuts perched atop Seattle's Space Needle and the Statue of Liberty; turning 7-Eleven stores into Kwik-E-Marts selling "Simpsons" products such as Squishees; and a contest among all the towns of Springfield in the U.S. to hold the movie's premiere. (Springfield, Vt., won.)
Research such as IMMI's is Madison Avenue's new holy grail. Despite the flash, humor and glitz of TV advertising, linking the ads to changes in market share, brand recall or sales has long been a challenge. But this deficiency is under more scrutiny as digital video recorders gain more of a presence in TV households and as some viewers start to watch portions of their favorite programs online.