Burger giants dig up dinos for summer movie tie-ins

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McDonald's Corp. and Burger King Corp. are going head-to-head with a pair of prehistoric promotions this summer.

McDonald's calls its tie-in with Walt Disney Co.'s release of "Dinosaurs" the cornerstone of its summer marketing program, which will pit it against BK's push for Universal Pictures' "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas."


The country's No. 1 fast-feeder is putting a mammoth effort behind its "Dinosaurs" promotion, tied to the special-effects film that opens in theaters May 19. The four-week promotion includes Happy Meals toys and a game called "Hatch, Match & Win." Happy Meals will feature four oversize dinosaur hand puppets and four dinosaur action figures that make sounds when touch-activated. The sweepstakes offers prizes that include a $25,000 diamond, $1 million in cash, Hawaiian vacations and Britney Spears concert packages.

Concurrently, Golden Arches has tied into the traveling Sue T-Rex skeleton exhibit with tray liner and in-store displays.

"It will be the family event of the summer and McDonald's will be the place that brings the event to them," said R.J. Milano, VP-U.S. marketing. While Mr. Milano wouldn't disclose spending, an executive familiar with the deal said McDonald's accounts for about half of the $150 million in promotion partnerships for the film.


Both its agencies, DDB Worldwide and Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, will craft campaigns around the "Dinosaurs" promotion. Ads featuring specially produced animation based on the film break May 18, plus in-store displays. DDB handles the push toward families while Burnett will create ads for kids and tweens. del Ribero Messianu, Coral Gables, Fla., will do ads for Hispanics and Burrell Communications Group, Chicago, ads for McDonald's African-American customers.

BK, however, will be first out with a Stone Age burger promotion. Its tie-in with "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" comedy prequel of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon kicks off with a four-week national promotion May 1, extending a 15-minute product placement surrounding scenes at a Bronto King restaurant in the film. In what a spokesman described as a "standard promotion," four premiums will be part of Kid Meals, including a car powered by a windup Fred Flintstone.


The push comes as executives of the Miami-based chain last week conceded to franchisees that the brand was weakened, in part, by too many promotions.

An ad campaign using movie footage will run in Saturday morning and weekday afternoon kids programs, and incorporate in-store merchandising that includes "crew gear" depicting scenes from the movie. Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York, handles.

Burger King will spend an estimated $20 million on the effort.

Both fast-feeders have several other promotions planned for mid- and late summer, including several more TV and film tie-ins.

McDonald's plans its first Power Rangers promotion since running four offers back-to-back in 1995. The chain is said to be using Happy Meals with 11 different premiums to link with the Fox Kids Network/Saban series that runs April 28 through May 18. Other Mcpromos in the works include Fingerboards, Barbie, Crazy Bones and yet another Teeny Beanies giveaway. Film tie-ins are said to be planned for "The Tigger Movie" in early September and "102 Dalmations" slated for Thanksgiving.

Burger King relies on movies and teen heartthrobs for the rest of its promotional calendar. In a Hollywood controversy, the chain rejected the Dr. Seuss adaptation of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and opted to link with "Rugrats in Paris -- The Movie," set for Thanksgiving release, followed by "Pokemon 2" slated for a Christmas release. In addition to toy premiums, the Rugrats promotion is said to include a Web site co-marketed with Nickelodeon.

Earlier this year, the home of the Whopper signed on as title sponsor of the Backstreet Boys fall 2000 tour. The sponsorship includes a promotional CD with five previously unreleased live recordings plus a video package.

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