Ad forms used: Image distribution given to 90 `'Tomb Raider" fan sites, Web casts and chats
Agency: Faction Creative, Beverly Hills, Calif.
Target audience: Male teen-agers and people interested in star Angelina Jolie
Online exposure: Added buzz gained from tie-ins with promotional partners including Taco Bell and Ericsson cellular phones
Results: 600,000 unique visitors to Tombraider.com in May; 1.2 million in June (Source: Paramount); $122.6 million in U.S. box office receipts during first five weeks
Paramount Pictures' biggest challenge was taking "Tomb Raider," the movie featuring cyber-game-chick Lara Croft, out of a narrow video game foxhole. But it still needed to use the gamer-infested online world to market the movie. Movies make up some of the biggest advertisers on the Web because of the overlap between the Internet and the movie audiences. For example, the online promotion during May for Touchstone Pictures' "Pearl Harbor" outstripped that for the top beverage brand online in June (Coca-Cola Co.'s Dasani) by a factor of seven.
For "Tomb Raider," the studio's aim was to broaden its teen-age, mostly male, audience to a wider group who weren't gamers but might be interested in star Angelina Jolie.
Paramount needed to alter the vision of a fighting Ms. Croft gently to draw a wider audience, while at the same time not alienating longtime loyal fans. First, Paramount took care of the gaming market by establishing a "Web-ring," which linked many already established `'Tomb Raider" game sites to the tombraidermovie.com site.
Paramount approved 90 out of thousands of Tomb Raider fan sites to be part of the ring; each site received a computer application, which was put on the site and linked to other chosen sites and the `'Tomb Raider" movie site to drive traffic. These sites would receive exclusive first-time images from the movie.
"We kind of built an intranet," says Kaaren Shalom, executive director-interactive marketing for Paramount Pictures. "It is about traffic building and building loyalty. ...We had some 600,000 unique visitors in May, international and domestic. June traffic was double that."
Paramount's site contained an "Explore Lara Croft World" area where there are 50 360-degree scenes of the movie. Viewers gain access to certain areas of each view by solvinggraphic puzzles.
`'Tomb Raider" was further propelled by its movie tie-in partners' Web activities, including PepsiCo's Pepsi, Tricon Global Restaurants' Taco Bell, Ericsson cell phones, and Ford Motor Co.'s Land Rover. `'Tomb Raider" also did an online sweepstakes promotion with the NBA on NBC, where the league airs its games.
With Land Rover, `'Tomb Raider' did a sweepstakes, which was on the "Entertainment Tonight" site. "ET" is a syndicated show distributed by Paramount Domestic Television, a sibling company of Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures.
In addition, Paramount did two live Web casts from the production-sponsored by Land Rover-in which there was a interview with the director, a tour of the sets by the set designer featuring the Cambodian tomb that was featured in the movie, an interview with the stunt coordinator and a surprise interview by phone from Lara Croft. Simultaneously, there was also a Yahoo! chat.
"The nice thing about our partners was that they extended everything that was online to offline," says Lisa DiMarzio, senior VP-worldwide promotions for Paramount.
Taco Bell did a special Internet active banner ad that had Lara Croft, in animation, jumping out of the banner and tumbling down a Web page-all this with helicopters flying around. "Very innovative in the ad banner world," says Ms. Shalom. "The ad was not confined to the little square."
While `'Tomb Raider" was a natural for targeting young men, the movie also hooked in Jolie-fascinated female teens through a sweepstakes on teen girl site, Alloy.com. "Angelina has a large fan base among young teen-age girls," says Ms. Shalom. "At the premiere they were all yelling and screaming her name."