BUG FLICKS WILL FEAST ON CANDY: DREAMWORKS LURES HERSHEY; NESTLE TO PIXAR

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DreamWorks SKG has signed Hershey Foods Corp. as a promotional partner for "Antz," setting the stage for a clash between two major bug-related film releases, each backed by high-profile candy marketers.

The studio has moved up its schedule for the release to Oct. 2, leaving it scurrying to sign additional marketers for the movie, initially scheduled for next spring.

Moving the release up gives DreamWorks a seven-week jump on Walt Disney Co.'s "A Bug's Life," the highly anticipated new film from Pixar Animation Studios, producer of the 1995 computer animated megahit "Toy Story."

SCOOPING THE COMPETITION

Since "A Bug's Life" is a major promotional vehicle for Nestle Chocolate & Confection, the early arrival of "Antz" allows Hershey to scoop its rival.

"Antz" and "A Bug's Life" could take to new heights a cultural focus on insects that began last year with two live-action films, "Mimic" and "Starship Troopers." And because Hollywood has more bug-oriented properties in development, youth marketing experts predict the two films will do for insects what "Jurassic Park" did for dinosaurs.

Hershey may be hindered somewhat by DreamWorks' advancement of "Antz," being challenged to blow out the promotion given the new opening date.

It is planning a theater-concession promotion, with several candy brands promoting an "Antz"-theme sweepstakes on packages. Prizes include discounts on movie tickets and "communication services," likely from an as-yet unannounced telecommunications partner.

AD SUPPORT POSSIBLE

The candy marketer is still deciding whether to take the promotion into other retail channels or to support it with TV and other advertising.

"The shorter time line makes it more difficult," said Anne Giangardella, head of marketing and promotions at DreamWorks Consumer Products.

Still, Ms. Giangardella believes there is enough time for other marketers to prepare programs. A fast-food deal is being pursued, as are deals with two other marketers.

"For a great idea, anything can be done," she said.

Disney, meanwhile, has lined up McDonald's Corp., General Mills and Dr Pepper/Seven Up in addition to Nestle for a $50 million promotion push on "A Bug's Life" (AA, Feb. 16). Also, Mattel has created a massive toy line around the film.

NESTLE LINKS TO MATTEL

Nestle's program includes its first-ever cross-promotion with Mattel; kids who buy three "Bug's Life" candies and one Mattel "Bug's Life" character-based toy get a free "Bug's Life" play set.

Nestle's line includes the Nestle Crunch-like Bug Bar and two others, Bug Ball and Bug Keeper, that incorporate Sweetarts. Dedicated TV advertising from Dailey & Associates, Los Angeles, breaks Nov. 23 on kids' cable programming.

Nestle's Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, 100 Grand and Nestle Crunch also will carry "Bug's Life" graphics.

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