Cartoon Coke cans: 'Shark' makes it real

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Brand integration is coming to animation via Dreamworks' hotly anticipated "Shark Tale."

Several brand partners will be animated into the fish fable, which opens Oct. 1 and stars Will Smith as the voice of the main character. Dreamworks executives wouldn't be specific about the integration because "Shark Tale" is still in production, but said it was done to create a realistic backdrop for a modern aquatic story. Non-partner brands also will be integrated.

"It's the brands, but with a twist," said Anne Globe, head of Dreamworks consumer products marketing and promotions. "They've been fish-ified."

"Shark Tale" is an underwater story about a hustler who learns some lessons about truth, and stars Renee Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Jack Black and Robert DeNiro. It also has some underworld overtones, complete with director Martin Scorsese, Michael Imperioli and Vincent Pastore (both of "The Sopranos") voicing characters. It's drawn an eclectic group of partners from the usual fast-feeder (Burger King) and soft-drink (Coca-Cola) to Hollywood tie-in newcomers Krispy Kreme and hair-cutting chain Great Clips.

"We're trying to reach a broad audience in a lot of different places, not all concentrated in the grocery store aisle," said Wendy Ryding, the studio's head of promotions. "We want a lot of different touch points."

coke is in

Coca-Cola Co. will use the movie's Mary J. Blige remake of "Got to Be Real" in its ad campaign. The soft-drink giant, which depends heavily on music in its youth-targeted marketing, will spread the promotion across several of its brands. It also plans movie-themed displays in some 40,000 grocery, convenience stores and mass retailers. The marketer will link with the soundtrack, which also features songs from Missy Elliott and Ziggy Marley (the latter voices a character in the movie).

Coke will support the promotion with a TV campaign featuring custom-created animation from Dreamworks, radio spots, in-theater and online efforts and sweepstakes. Coke also will link in kid brands Minute Maid and Hi-C.

Hewlett-Packard, a technology provider to the studio and several-year promotional partner, will use the movie's characters in its TV and online advertising, much as it will with Dreamworks' expected blockbuster "Shrek 2." HP and "Shark Tale" will co-mingle their messages at big-box retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City.

A Burger King program will hype the movie in its 8,000 locations, with toys in kid meals, dressed-up stores and animated TV ads. Another long-term partner, General Mills, will launch a limited-time "Shark Tale" cereal and fruit snacks, in addition to "Shark Tale" related premiums inside 40 million packages of Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Pop Secret brands.

Great Clips will give "Shark Tale" valuable Nascar exposure with its co-branded car, driven by the sport's current "It" boy Kasey Kahne, during the early fall Busch Series races. A replica car will be sold trackside and at toy retailers. The chain also will use its real estate, TV, radio and print ads and a sweepstakes to support the movie during its back-to-school push. Krispy Kreme will introduce a "Shark Tale" theme doughnut, with movie imagery in its 200-plus stores and in-theater stunts.

vital effort

"Shark Tale" is vitally important to Dreamworks, which has already green-lit a sequel, and has been mulling an initial public offering of its animation division. The studio will try to "eventize" the release in October, which is not the typical time frame for all-family movies, which generally release around summer and fourth quarter holidays. Ad and promo campaigns from the marketing partners will begin as much as eight weeks before the movie release, as will the studio's campaign.

Computer-generated animation has shown its appeal these days to boys, teens and adults who often bypass traditional hand-drawn movies like Disney's "Home on the Range" for the edgier, more contemporary look and story telling of films such as Pixar's "Finding Nemo."

Dreamworks has had huge success with 3-D animation with "Shrek," but stumbled with traditional hand-drawn fare like "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas." The studio is trying to stake its claim in the lucrative area, which can spawn huge merchandise sales and, even when box office is not stellar, monster revenue in the home entertainment market.

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