Lead List of Universal Pictures Tie-in Sponsors

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LOS ANGELES -- Universal Pictures has signed a number of first-time sponsors to promote its upcoming sequel Meet the Fockers, including Internet service provider Earthlink,
A Pace Arrow RV plays a leading role in 'Meet the Fockers.'

and Fleetwood Enterprises, maker of the Pace Arrow recreational vehicle.

The co-marketing partnership with Earthlink encompasses the film and the release this week of the bonus edition DVD of the first movie, Meet the Parents. Earthlink sponsors the special features on the DVD, and consumers who play the disc in their computers or Web-enabled TV can connect directly to "Meet the Blockers" ( for information on Earthlink's anti-virus and anti-spam features. The microsite also contains exclusive entertainment content, interactive games and links to buy movie tickets and the DVD.

5.4 million Earthlink members

Earthlink is giving the movie exposure across its site and in direct mailings to its 5.4 million members.

Universal Pictures executives said the online component of any movie promotion is becoming increasingly important, as is finding partners who fill that need in innovative ways.

"We do online advertising, but it's not a huge percentage of our media budget," said Stephanie Sperber, executive vice president of Universal Studios Partnerships, which shepherds co-marketing deals. "These are very valuable impressions, and the fact that the sites are sticky makes people spend valuable time interacting with the entertainment."
A Pace Arrow RV plays a leading role in 'Meet the Fockers.'

Earthlink previously worked with Universal on an in-theater ad campaign linking its spyware with the spy theme of this past summer's hit The Bourne Supremacy. The campaign boosted Earthlink's traffic, causing the marketer to return for another, and this time deeper, entertainment tie-in.

Meet the Parents pulled in $166 million domestically when it was released in 2000. The release of a bonus-edition DVD, expected to be a strong seller, comes with a free ticket to Meet the Fockers.

Pace Arrow

First-time promotional partner Fleetwood Enterprises has its 35-foot-long Pace Arrow recreational vehicle featured extensively in the movie.

With Robert DeNiro as overprotective father Jack Byrnes behind the wheel, he drives his family from New York to Florida in the RV to meet the Fockers, played by Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman. When they arrive at their destination, Mr. DeNiro's character wants to sleep in the RV instead of the Fockers' house. Both on the road and stationary, there are numerous shots of the interior and exterior. A pivotal scene in which the Byrnes' cat flushes the Fockers' dog down the toilet takes place in the RV.

As part of the deal, Fleetwood gave the production three RVs, one of which was sawed in half for interior shots. The front half is expected to make a red carpet appearance at the movie's premiere later this week.

A Pace Arrow RV plays a leading role in 'Meet the Fockers.'

Dealer location promotions

Fleetwood is covering its 1,200 dealer locations with Meet the Fockers materials, giving Universal exposure on virgin real estate for entertainment properties, and hyping the movie on its Web site and through public relations.

The RV company, last seen in Universal's Jurassic Park 2 as a custom-built piece of product placement, wanted to be in Meet the Fockers because the vehicle is so front-and-center. Its grill and logo appear prominently in shots, and the brand name is mentioned in the dialogue.

The movie puts forth an updated version of the RV, "not the tired old Winnebago positioning that the industry has moved away from," said Scott Grafft, Fleetwood's senior vice president of strategic planning and market development. "This is a respectful treatment of the vehicle, but it's still very funny."

The Byrnes' RV has been tricked out with a number of gadgets befitting Mr. DeNiro's character, a former CIA agent. The movie exposure may help Fleetwood continue to lower the age of its demographic, which used to be well over 60 years old and now hovers around 50, Mr. Grafft said.

Jewelry, formalwear and wines

Other co-marketing partners include Tacori jewelry, Savvi Formalwear and Alice White Wines, spreading the Meet the Fockers word everywhere from 170 jewelry retailers, 350 formalwear stores and 2,000 grocery and liquor stores. In addition to in-store materials, the partners are buying co-branded ads in Elle, Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Brides and Bridal Guide magazines, and running consumer sweepstakes.

Universal executives said it was important to the filmmakers that any tie-in partners had a strong thematic link to the movie.

Tacori's tagline for its win-an-engagement-ring contest is, "You can pick the perfect ring, but you may not be able to pick the perfect in-laws." Savvi's promotion asks, "Are your future in-laws picture perfect?" Consumers can win a private screening of the movie as an engagement prize for writing about their "meet the in-laws" experiences.

Anheuser-Busch is using the movie as the centerpiece of an on-premise promotion in about 500 bars and nightclubs in 25 major markets, giving away Fockers swag and screening passes. The marketer also is holding a contest through its Web site to give away tickets to the premiere.
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