In its most sweeping attempt at corporate synergy yet, Warner Bros. also is employing its Turner Broadcasting System and DC Com-ics sister units in the effort. And the studio will for the first time tag TV spots for the flick with plugs for movie merchandise sold through Warner Bros. Studio Stores.
Like 1995's "Batman Forever," the fourth Batflick sports a new actor in the lead role. But "Batman & Robin" doesn't have the pressures the third film had to shoulder, after the dark tone of the second film left moviegoers disappointed and promotion partners and licensees wary of the franchise.
"With the third film, we proved that we could still make a 'Batman' film. Now it's expected of us that we can," said Joel Schumacher, speaking more like a brand manager than the movie's director at last week's Promotion Marketing Association of America Star Power conference.
MOST 'BATMAN' PROMOS YET
That the $125 million promo program is the biggest ever for a Batman movie reflects the success of the last film, as well as surging interest among marketers in entertainment tie-ins.
Apple has an extensive presence in the film via placement of several computer models and prototypes. David Roman, VP-corporate advertising and brand marketing, said Apple isn't supporting with ads due to timing and logistics.
Other partners have crafted promotions designed to spur sales:
nFrito-Lay's "The Great Gotham City Giveaway"-buy two special 14-ounce bags, get one free-will be touted on 100 million bags of Doritos Spicy Nachos, Lay's Red Pepper Grill and Chee-Tos Crunch Nachos. A $4 million TV campaign from BBDO Worldwide, New York, has Frito's "Dave the delivery guy" chasing after Batman.
Amoco is giving away a mag light with four fill-ups. A TV spot from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, features the actor who plays butler Alfred stopping at an Amoco station for a fill-up.
Taco Bell has collectible cups and a sweepstakes that will give a Batmobile to the winner, supported by a $20 million TV campaign from Bozell, Costa Mesa, Calif.
Kellogg has lined up 13 ready-to-eat cereals, plus Kellogg's Eggo Bat Signal waffles and Kellogg's Pop Tarts that feature movie-inspired flourishes. Offers include the "Batman Action Pack" of posters, trading cards and comic books, and an offer for a movie-inspired plate.
Kellogg is supporting with $10 million in TV ads from Burnett, Chicago and Toronto.
All the partners except Kellogg are targeting teens and 18-to-34- year-old adults, with ads breaking the second week of June. Many also will have an extensive in-store presence.
Taco Bell will dress its windows with "Batman & Robin" characters; Frito-Lay has sold elaborate end-aisle displays into stores; Amoco will have signage at the pumps.
Point-of-purchase exposure is as critical to the studio as TV spots. "It creates a billboard effect, whether you're driving past a Taco Bell or down a supermarket aisle," said Bob Schneider, Warner Bros. Consumer Products' senior VP-worldwide promotions and a POP industry veteran.
As usual, the Warner Bros. Studio Stores have an extensive in-store program, which started last week. The 167 stores are carrying 130 different "Batman & Robin" products, many of them exclusive to the store. Upcoming TV and print ads, created in-house at Warner Bros., for the film will be tagged with the line, "Cool 'Batman & Robin' stuff now at Warner Bros. Studio Stores."
AOL, QVC CONTESTS
America Online and QVC are also planning contest promos designed to spur sales of "Batman" merchandise, which has generated about $1 billion in sales for Warner Bros. in each past Batflick year.
Warner Bros. also enlisted Turner's TBS superstation for a multi-tier sweepstakes promotion during the week of June 16. "The 'Batman & Robin' Super Blast" is anchored by a tune-in promo tied to "Saved by the Bell."
Frito's Doritos brand will sponsor the contest, and TBS will support with radio