Dr Pepper Along for Indiana Jones Treasure Hunt

Soda Brand Hopes Promotional Campaign Will Spur Blockbuster Sales

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" opens worldwide May 22, so will a lot of Dr Pepper cans in the States. And while the promotional relationship is designed to be mutually beneficial, it clearly helps Dr Pepper more than Dr. Jones.
Scene from Dr Pepper's 'Everyday Indy' spot
Scene from Dr Pepper's 'Everyday Indy' spot

Dr Pepper's promotion -- the biggest in the beverage maker's history -- offers a slew of summer-movie staples: collectible cans and sweepstakes prizes of trips and gear designed to re-emphasize the distinct "23 flavors" of Dr Pepper (23 adventure trips to Peru and other exotic locales; 23 iPod Nanos, etc.), as well as a raft of Lucasfilm-supervised magazine and TV ads that will run all through May.

Turning movies into events
Even for a movie that needs no help finding an audience, a gaggle of partners "helps 'event-ize' a film within pop culture, so it's not just a barrage of ads from the studio telling you about the movie," said one insider who declined to speak for the record, for fear of angering famously press-shy Lucasflim Ltd.

Lucasfilm, as is often the case, remained tight-lipped about its licensing arrangements, declining to comment about why it chooses its individual partners -- which also include M&Ms, travel site Expedia, Kraft's Lunchables and Burger King's Indy Whopper -- for Indy's fourth outing.

But for Dr Pepper, the benefits are even clearer, as Laura Pitlik, a Plano, Texas-based brand manager for Dr Pepper, noted: "It's the hugest opportunity of the summer to drive retail [sales]."

Ms. Pitlik added that some supermarket chains, such as Kroger, Safeway and Supervalu, have been bundling together products involved in the Indy promotion -- thereby creating even larger displays of Kellogg's cereals, M&M's candies and Dr Pepper sodas that arrest shopper attention. A rolling "boulder" of promotion, to use a term Indiana Jones might appreciate.

Who wants more pop?
"Dr Pepper needs to be associated with 'Indiana Jones' -- not the other way around," says Paul Dergarabedian, president and owner of the Los Angeles research firm Media By Numbers. "It's obviously not just one of the most highly anticipated films of the summer, but the decade. It will definitely reach $300 million [in domestic box office] and could do $400 million."

The timing is perfect: Cadbury Schweppes' share of the U.S. carbonated drinks market fell for the first time in four years in the first quarter, which Cadbury CFO Ken Hanna recently attributed to pricing increases needed to offset the rising costs of aluminum, oil and corn syrup. Cadbury Schweppes' soon-to-be-spun-off Dr Pepper Snapple Group reconfirmed its long-term guidance of revenue growth in the 3% to 5% range for the coming months, and an association with the presumptive biggest film of the summer obviously only benefits the soft drink's softening sales.
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