Nestle USA, Wendy's, Target, Wal-Mart, Amex Buy Into Movie

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LOS ANGELES -- In the world that Roald Dahl created for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the golden ticket was the way into kid nirvana. Marketers are hoping to bank on the same concept for a multimillion-dollar promotion built around Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming film based on the classic children’s book.
Much like in the movie, golden tickets will appear in 'Willy Wonka'-branded candy from Nestle USA.

Nestle USA, through several of its Wonka candy brands, will take the lead of the promotional campaign for the film, which was directed by Tim Burton and stars Johnny Depp. It hits theaters July 15.

Golden ticket sweepstakes

At the center of the campaign is a national golden ticket sweepstakes targeting consumers through 60 million packages of candy.

The move shows what a studio and its marketing partner can do in the absence of any product-placement opportunities within a film.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with its fantastical setting and literary roots, is free of the brands that often populate feature films. As is also true for many animated family fare, everyday products didn’t naturally fit into the story. That means Warner Bros.’ marketing team and its tie-in partners had to look for more creative ways to link with the content.

The book’s golden ticket premise provided that much-needed link, and a too-good-to-pass-up execution for corporate partners.

"The better the connection to the storyline, the more appealing the promotion is to the consumer," said Louise Soper, Warner Bros.' vice president of domestic national promotions. "The golden ticket is pivotal. It's a good solid mechanism for the partner to use."

Tricked-out 'Wonkamobile'

TV ads created by Dailey & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif., support the sweepstakes, along with in-store displays at some 30,000 retailers. Print ads, an online campaign, e-newsletters, event marketing via a tricked-out "Wonkamobile," in-theater signage and sampling are also planned. The movie's theme and characters will be splashed across candy packaging.

The movie follows Charlie and four other youngsters as they go on a guided tour of the legendary candy factory with its eccentric owner, Willy Wonka, played by Mr. Depp.

Nestle candy packages feature characters from the movie, and the five grand prizes relate to each character's quirks and vitals. The Veruca Salt winning ticket gives away a shopping spree, for instance, and the Augustus Gloop wrapper will provide a trip to Germany.

But Nestle won’t be the only promo partner.

Hostess Chocolicious WonkaCakes

Hostess plans a themed product called Chocolicious WonkaCakes, which will be hyped through print ads, in-store materials and online support.

Wendy's restaurants will go Charlie top to bottom with posters, displays and kid's meal toys at 5,700 of the fast-food chain’s eateries.

As a number of children-oriented properties have done, Charlie will reach into the hospitality business with a summerlong promotion with Country Inns & Suites by Carlson. The 320 hotels in the chain, along with some 800 Carlson-branded travel and cruise offices, will give exposure to the movie with signage, promotional kids menus, book bags, toys and Charlie key cards. Children can check out the classic book and others from hotel locations and, upon returning them, trigger a $5 donation to ProLiteracy Worldwide.

Penguin Books

On the literary side, Penguin Young Readers Group, the publisher of six Charlie movie tie-in books and the classic Dahl titles, will put displays in thousands of bookstores around the country. Major grocery chains and mass retailers also are involved, from Target and Wal-Mart to Albertson’s and Kroger. Barnes & Noble will host in-store Charlie activities, and Borders will feature a sweepstakes and a branded chocolate malt at its cafes.

Additionally, American Express is sponsoring a pre-release screening of the movie in New York, by invitation to some of its customers, and a chocolate-themed after-party.
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