Superman Reboot 'Man of Steel' Snares $160M in Promotions

Summer Blockbuster Boasts More Than 100 Global Marketing Partners

By Published on .

Tie-ins clearly aren't kryptonite to the Superman reboot.

Super Burger: Henry Cavill stars in a TV ad for Carl's Jr. and Hardee's.
Super Burger: Henry Cavill stars in a TV ad for Carl's Jr. and Hardee's.

With more than 100 global promotional partners and $160 million in collective promotional support, the newest Superman installment, "Man of Steel," is shaping up to be the most Madison Avenue-friendly film of the summer, and the most heavily promoted Warner Bros. film this year.

The blockbuster opens June 14 and counts among its promotional partners Warby Parker, which is offering Clark Kent-inspired glasses; Gillette, which produced a video series on how Superman shaves; Walmart, which is offering patrons an exclusive screening June 13; and Hershey's Twizzler, with a promotion on Facebook that lets users create and star in a Superman-themed video. Also participating are Chrysler, Sears Roebuck & Co., Army National Guard, Kellogg Co. and Nokia -- the film's biggest global partner -- along with Hardee's and Carl's Jr. Warner Bros. declined to comment on the tie-ins.

"By all accounts this is going to be a huge movie," said Brad Haley, CMO at CKE Restaurants, owner of Hardee's and Carl's Jr. The burger chains are running a TV spot created by 72andSunny for its Super Bacon Cheeseburger, featuring Henry Cavill, who plays Clark Kent and Superman in "Man of Steel." The commercial is directed by Zack Snyder, the film's director. The movie and the fast feeders target young men.

Fast-food chains are "always a place where blockbuster movies go, because they have promotional ability to reach a broader audience," said Brent Poer, president of Starcom MediaVest Group's branded-content unit LiquidThread.

With a massive international release, "Man of Steel" has also lured global partners. Nokia, which last year launched a Batman-themed phone for "The Dark Knight Rises," is reportedly unveiling a limited-edition Lumia 925 phone in China to coincide with the release. It also rolled out a "Man of Steel" app for the Lumia with Windows phone that includes character information, trailers and an augmented-reality function. Nokia did not respond to a request for comment. Chrysler U.K. has created two Superman cars -- the S-Series for its Ypsilon and Delta -- to give away in a sweepstakes. On its Facebook page, the carmaker is running an "Imported From Metropolis" promo with products and merchandise as consumer prizes.

Sears, meanwhile, is woven into the storyline -- a store makes a cameo. Off-screen tie-ins with its Shop Your Way rewards program include shopping perks and first-look footage. Army National Guard's "Soldier of Steel" promotion includes a dedicated website with games, TV spots and behind-the-scenes video. Kellogg is using in-package promotions and contests for its Keebler snack brands, among others.

With 100 partners, "Man of Steel" appears to have topped Universal Studios' animated film "The Lorax," released in March 2012. It had a reported 70 promotional partners.

Is there a risk that there can be too many marketing partners?

The studio and marketers "can achieve success when the marketing tie-ins are separate and distinct both in message and in target audience," said Tom Meyer, president of the entertainment division of Marketing Arm. "Likewise, when there is category overlap and the campaigns are targeted at similar audiences, you can cause consumer confusion, which is worse for the marketer than the studio."

Mr. Poer advises marketers that missed a chance to tie-in with the theatrical release of "Man of Steel" not to fret. "With the DVD release, you can always come back for more."

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