Toyota sets tie-in with 'Terminator'

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Toyota Motor Sales USA's Toyota Division has inked its first major multimillion-dollar tie-in movie deal with next summer's expected blockbuster, Warner Bros.' "Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines."

Unlike prior deals, which only involved product placement, Steven Sturm, VP-marketing of the Toyota Division, said "this is the first movie we are doing in a major way," including product placement and "significant" but undisclosed media support for the film. Toyota's Lexus division did a smaller marketing deal with "Minority Report" earlier this year.

Marketing executives estimate Toyota could spend $10 million to $15 million in advertising around the movie, comparable to what Ford Motor Co. is estimated to have spent for its global linkup with MGM Distribution Co.'s James Bond film "Die Another Day."

Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his starring role in "Terminator 3." He drives a Toyota Tundra full-size pickup in the film and is chased by a Lexus SC 430 hardtop convertible coupe driven by a female villain. Toyota handles its movie partnerships in-house.

The automaker, which has a multiyear deal with Universal Studios, was approached first about a tie-in for next summer's "The Fast and Furious 2," with Universal Pictures.

"The Fast and the Furious" is about street racing in California. Many cars are featured in the movie, though particular emphasis is placed on American Honda Motor Co.'s Honda Civics, Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America's Mitsubishi Eclipses, Toyota Celicas and Toyota's discontinued Supra. But Toyota elected not to work with the movie. "We passed," said Mr. Sturm. "It just didn't work for us."

too expensive

Entertainment marketing executives said many car companies don't want to be associated with illegal street racing. Other executives said the deal with Universal was too expensive, considering there are too many different cars; one car promotion would get lost in the sea of brands.

Still, the film is drawing interest of marketing partners. It's believed Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America is a major partner, though Mitsubishi executives didn't return calls by press time. A Universal spokeswoman had no comment.

It's shaping up to be a busy summer for movie tie-ins with autos. Mazda North American Operations inked a deal with 20th Century Fox for "X2," a sequel to "X-Men," while Warner Bros. has inked a multimillion-dollar deal with General Motors Corp.'s "The Matrix Reloaded" for its Cadillac CTS Sedan and Escalade SUV. Both films will be released in May.

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