Fast-food monster Mc Donald's Corp. is expand ing its marketing horizons with a dino-sized cross-promotion tied to MCA's release of "The Flintstones" in 38 countries. And while unprecedented in its scope, the program is a direct descendent of the worldwide promotional success of MCA's 1993 hit, "Jurassic Park."
Years from now, when "Jurassic Park 4: Revenge of the Velociraptors" is playing in theaters, the original still will be remembered for breaking down geographic boundaries to entertainment promotions like a T-rex crashing the gates of the movie's chaotic theme park.
The movie continues to transcend language and cultural barriers nine months after its release-with Kenner Products as its worldwide toy licensee, McDonald's as its lead promotional partner and a roster of hundreds of licensees and marketing partners in locales as diverse as Norway and New Zealand.
Along the way, it has evolved beyond being the highest-grossing movie of all time to become a global brand. For that, the partnership of entertainment giant MCA and filmmaker Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment has been named Advertising Age's first Promotional Marketer of the Year.
"I think that's the phenomenon of `Jurassic Park'-that around the world there is such a strong identity for this movie and its logo," says Elizabeth Gelfand, senior VP-marketing for MCA/Universal Merchandising.
That phenomenon is no accident. Rather, it's the culmination of a carefully crafted marketing and merchandising plan set in motion in late 1991 for the movie based on Michael Crichton's best-selling novel.
In the U.S. alone, "Jurassic Park" is thought to have benefited from $60 million in promotional exposure, three-to-four times the movie's estimated media advertising budget of $15 million to $20 million.
"With this movie, the challenge was that we were opening simultaneously in a lot of different territories," says Brad Globe, VP-marketing at Amblin.
With worldwide demand for U.S. entertainment on the rise, "what's happening now is the period between domestic and international release is becoming [shorter]," Mr. Globe notes.
"Jurassic Park" opened in most English-speaking countries within a month of its June 11 U.S. release, providing MCA and Amblin with an opportunity to create a powerful introduction.
The trade-off was the loss of valuable lead time to sign international promotional partners, and no proven U.S. success to sell advertisers in other countries.
Early in 1992, Kenner became the first "Jurassic Park" partner, signing on as worldwide toy licensee. In the following months, McDonald's sealed a promotional deal for the U.S. and a handful of other countries.
Sega of America and Nintendo software marketer Ocean of America also enlisted fairly early on, rounding out what Ms. Gelfand calls the three must-have categories for movie promotions: toys, fast-food and videogames.
Mr. Globe and Ms. Gelfand, both of whom look and speak more like buttoned-down package goods marketers than free-wheeling Hollywood types, despite strict entertainment industry backgrounds, then set out to fill the holes in the international roster of promotional partners and merchandise licensees.
A sampling of the far-flung companies they persuaded includes Kmart Corp. and Kellogg Co. in Canada; Weetabix in France, Portugal, and the U.K. PepsiCo developed a promotion for the Scandinavian region; Coca-Cola Co. took Latin America. Nissin Foods promoted the movie in Japan, as did MCA sister Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.'s Panasonic unit, which promoted the movie in its 24,000 consumer electronics stores throughout Japan.
Perhaps the most potent sales tool for "Jurassic Park" was Mr. Spielberg himself, and the glamor associated with one of the most successful filmmakers of all time.
In October '92, for instance, MCA and Amblin invited 40 to 50 of "Jurassic Park's" U.S. licensees and promotional partners to Universal Studios Hollywood for a licensing strategy meeting.
"It got to be a `Jurassic Park' lovefest," remembers Ms. Gelfand during a dual interview with Mr. Globe earlier this month at Amblin's "Jurassic Park"-like headquarters on the Universal Pictures lot in Studio City, Calif.
During the October meeting, marketing partners were treated to presentations by Mr. Globe; Amblin's publicity chief Marvin Levy; "Jurassic Park" producer Kathleen Kennedy and Universal Pictures marketing executives, plus a rare screening of behind the-scenes footage from "Jurassic Park." Then, in an unusual twist, the licensees and promotional partners presented ideas to the MCA/Amblin marketing team.
"McDonald's got up there and shared with the lunch box guy and the pajama guy their vision for what `Jurassic Park' was going to be," says Ms. Gelfand. "It really brought even the smallest licensee right into the middle of it all in terms of seeing the vision of what this was."
As the winning spirit caught fire they nicknamed themselves the "Dinosaur Dream Team," she notes.
The clincher came the following February, when Mr. Spielberg himself insured that "Jurassic Park" jawbreakers, Gummie Dinosaurs, Dino Damage Toys and triceratops temporary tattoos would all have a place on store shelves by appearing, with the movie's cast, to show the movie's trailer to about 1,000 usually skeptical retailers at American International Toy Fair in New York.
"From a marketing sense, his instincts are great," Mr. Globe says of Mr. Spielberg.
The key to unifying 500 licensed products and more than 80 promotional programs around the world became the yellow, red and black "Jurassic Park" dinosaur skeleton logo. It would appear on every licensed product or promotional item to be marketed, regardless of language.
The logo originated with the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that decorated the cover of Mr. Crichton's "Jurassic Park" novel from the Ballantine Books division of Advance Publications. That outline became the basis of a design Amblin's art department developed for the on-screen theme park that was created for the film.
Kenner executives were among the licensees allowed access to the film during production, so they could closely model their toys after the actual "beasts" created for the film. When they saw the logo, they knew they wanted it for the toy line, and it came to symbolize "Jurassic Park" on-and-off the screen.
Further, says Mr. Globe, the logo "identified `Jurassic Park' as very special and very unique without actually showing the dinosaurs."
Though critics within MCA and Amblin warned against teasing audiences too much without showing any of the dinosaurs, Mr. Globe's strategy prevailed: the logo would represent every aspect of the film and its merchandising. No dinosaurs would be seen outside the movie theater.
"What created the spine of the marketing program was the logo, and everything else fed out" from that easily translatable base, says Ms. Gelfand.
The strategy of showing none of the movie dinosaurs served two purposes. It preserved the element of surprise for moviegoers and set "Jurassic Park" merchandise apart from other realistic-looking dinosaur toys and souvenirs.
But at first licensees questioned the strategy. McDonald's was notably taken aback at the thought of being denied the stars of "Jurassic Park" after committing to an estimated $25 million in media support for its promotion.
"They were, at first, like `Pardon me?'*" admits Mr. Globe. But ultimately the fast-food marketer took a "leap of faith" and settled for a "Dino-size" meal promotion.
The show-no-dinosaurs condition may have led to the loss of one early promotional partner. Choice Hotels International, announced as one of the "Jurassic Park" partners at the Toy Fair, later dropped out of MCA and Amblin's "Dinosaur Dream Team."
"It's hard to achieve these [ongoing] relationships [with advertisers], because of the unpredictability of the movie business," states Mr. Globe.
Mr. Globe and Ms. Gelfand, who swear they work so closely together they might as well work for the same company, believe they've been able to develop long-term relationships with advertisers such as McDonald's because they have the partners' best interests at heart.
Often, filmmakers are concerned only with getting exposure for their movies, with no thought of building the promotional partners' businesses. McDonald's, and others, demand that high-profile entertainment associations sell burgers.
With "Jurassic Park" still playing on about 900 movie screens in the U.S. nine months after its initial theatrical release, MCA and Amblin are already planning future promotional waves.
"When we do the sequel, you're going to find people rushing back to be involved in the program again," Mr. Globe predicts.
In the meantime, the companies are lining up partners for the expected home video release of "Jurassic Park" in the second half of this year.
While declining to identify any marketers, Ms. Gelfand promises the video promotion will be as ubiquitous as the original effort for "Jurassic Park" last summer.
Kenner, after logging an estimated $100 million in "Jurassic Park" toy sales in 1993, this year has invented a new toy line that includes additional characters, dinosaurs and vehicles.
"In our marketplace, to have ongoing continuity of any property you need exposure," says Mr. Globe.
Ms. Gelfand points out marketers of licensed merchandise have a year-round outlet for their wares in the souvenir shops at MCA's Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood.
Demand for "Jurassic Park" T-shirts and key chains is expected to swell when MCA opens attractions tied to the movie in California, Florida and Japan.
This week Universal Studios Hollywood, Studio City, Calif., will open "Jurassic Park: Behind the Scenes."
Even with all that to look forward to, for Ms. Gelfand there's still one piece missing in the "Jurassic Park" promotional plan.
She'd like to conduct research on the impact of the "Jurassic Park" logo around the world, measuring it against icons like Coca-Cola.
"It's amazing that within a three-to-four-month period, a movie logo can really be up there in terms of awareness," she muses.