Madison+Vine: New Line, Wal-Mart unite for promo

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Time Warner's New Line Cinema, looking to boost a heartstring- tugging movie, is close to a pact with Wal-Mart Stores for a multi-layered promotional program around the late June release of "The Notebook." The deal will kick off a monthly "book pick" at the retail giant, with the best-selling Nicholas Sparks novel on which the film is based becoming the first title featured.

The studio also brought in another partner, Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Kleenex, to extend the retail exposure and imprint the movie's tearjerker theme.

In-store displays will gather books and Kleenex products against a 4-foot-tall backdrop with movie details and glossy shots of stars Gena Rowlands, James Garner, Joan Allen, Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams.

The promotion gives Kleenex valuable front-of-store exposure during summer, not cold and flu season when the products usually get most of their retail mileage. The marketer has linked with entertainment properties in the past, from chick-flick cable TV movies to network soap operas. An ongoing deal puts Kleenex at the heart of "TNT's Tearjerker of the Week."


"We're trying to stretch our brand out and bond with our consumer in different and unique ways," said Mary Goggans, associate marketing director at Kleenex. "And executing a co-marketing program in Wal-Mart is a huge positive for us."

The marketer is still considering other promotional activity around the movie, including sampling at the premiere and screenings, and a possible tie-in with the later DVD release, Ms. Goggans said.

A "retailtainment" part of the effort will put Mr. Sparks, whose books sell exceptionally well at Wal-Mart, in at least one store for signings around the movie's release.

The deal gives New Line invaluable mass-market real estate, and essentially a Good Housekeeping-style seal of approval. Wal-Mart, one of the most influential forces in publishing, is known for selling huge volume in faith-based titles such as "Veggie Tales" and the "Left Behind" series.

Wal-Mart, at 2,200 locations, will air "The Notebook" trailers on its in-store monitors, known as the Wal-Mart TV Network, and will hype the movie on its Web site. Bookmarks, co-branded with Kleenex and "The Notebook," will be doled out in store. The movie opens June 25.

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