It's been a bonanza for marketers of fast-food, soft drinks, package goods and toys who tied into family-targeted summer films. Now a growing number of marketers is rushing to ink tie-ins to films targeting children and adults due out later this year and next summer. "Interest and expectations from marketers for film tie-ins has never been higher, because of the incredibly successful promotions we've seen lately, and it continues to build," said Steve Ross, VP-worldwide promotions for 20th Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising.
And if the summer's strong box office activity continues, prospects for this year's holiday film tie-ins are expected to be better than ever. As of last week, 1994's total was $2.93 billion, slightly ahead of a year ago's "Jurassic Park"-led $2.91 billion.
The holiday crop includes the Thanksgiving release of "The Pagemaster" from Universal, starring Macaulay Culkin. Tie-in partners include Pizza Hut, Nabisco Foods, Kellogg USA and Texaco Oil.
Marketers are now jockeying to secure tie-in roles with films due next summer. On tap are Walt Disney Co.'s animated epic "Pocahontas," plus films based on the TV series "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," from Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., and "Casper" and Kevin Costner's action-adventure film "Waterworld," both from Universal.
Studios are keener than ever on properties reaching the broadest possible audiences to attract tie-in partners, and thus offset movie development and marketing costs, said Anne Giangardella, director for promotions, MCA/Universal Merchandising.
"The number of films targeting both kids and adults has escalated, because studios want tie-in partners to help market films in fast-food outlets, supermarkets and even gas stations," Ms. Giangardella said.
Walt Disney Co.'s smash summer hit "The Lion King" has been a roaring success for tie-in partners including Burger King Corp., with consumer awareness heightened by the movie's raft of tie-ins targeting adults and kids (AA, July 4).
Although Mattel's toy line linked to Universal's "The Flintstones" didn't fare well, McDonald's Corp. scored high on its tie-in to the Stone Age film.
Universal's "The Little Rascals," which opened last week, already has boosted sales of related products through in-store cast appearances at R.H. Macy & Co. stores. Long John Silver's is also a tie-in partner.
In its first film promotion, Oshkosh B'Gosh, Oshkosh, Wis., is reaping rewards from a tie-in to Broadway Pictures' "Lassie." Department store sales of Oshkosh's Lassie children's apparel line are booming.
Also on board are Nickelodeon and Quaker Oats Co.'s Gravy Train brand, which will feature Lassie on packaging and marketing through 1996.
Jeff Jensen contributed to this story.