In-store DSW Deal Hypes 'Shall We Dance?' Movie

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LOS ANGELES -- Walt Disney Co.'s Miramax is partnering with discount chain DSW Shoe Warehouse for a multilayered promotion pegged to the new movie Shall We Dance?
As part of the deal, DSW shoe stores are festooned with movie posters.

As part of the deal, the self-service shoe stores will be decked out with movie posters and information on free movie ticket giveaways.

Starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Lopez, the Miramax film, which opens this week, is a romantic comedy about a bored middle-aged lawyer who finds life-changing passion in ballroom dancing lessons.

New studio trend

The move is DSW's first fling with an entertainment marketing partner and the latest example of how Hollywood studios are pursuing new kinds of uncluttered retail venues in which to promote their productions. Studios like Universal have recently sought out deals with auto parts retailers, 20th Century Fox has aligned with mall property managers and Disney has linked with wireless stores for high-impact marketing. Places as diverse as tattoo parlors, independent record stores, Build-a-Bear Workshops and African-American beauty parlors have become coveted spots for entertainment companies.

Miramax has explored nontraditional venues for its upcoming TV series Project Runway with high-end furniture company Drexel Heritage. Drexel is hyping the Bravo show in hundreds of outlets. For Shall We Dance? the studio searched for female-centric and special-interest venues, including shoe stores and dance studios.

"The partnerships are very closely linked with the theme of the movie," said Nicole Sedita, Miramax's senior director of worldwide promotions, "and they get us into places where we wouldn't normally be."

Shoe outlets

The Columbus, Ohio-based DSW operates 162 stores in 28 states and also supplies footwear products to other chains, including Filene's Basement (21 stores), Value City Department Stores (100 stores) and Stein Mart (260 stores). DSW has previously announced that it will open more than 40 new outlets by the end of this year.

For its part of the Shall We Dance? arrangement, DSW is running a "Get Your Dancing Shoes" promotion that gives away a free movie ticket with a $50 purchase (the ticket, through the Properties Group's Movie Cash, can be used for any movie). The chain has blanketed its e-mail database and its hefty frequent-buyer list with information on the movie and the ticket giveaway. Its radio ads have Shall We Dance? taglines.

Another partner in the Miramax effort is Arthur Murray Dance Studios, whose 250 locations are decked out with movie posters and are playing the Shall We Dance? sound track during lessons. The chain supplied professional dancers for the movie's New York premiere and hosted pre-release screenings. Ads include spot TV and in-theater. A sponsored sweepstakes sends winners to attend a professional dance competition in Las Vegas. Arthur Murray doesn't have product placement in the film. Instead, the film features an independent dance studio.

'Other' marketing venues

The Miramax-DSW deal underscores that movie marketers, who previously focused national media spending on TV, have begun to realize the value of the audience segments they can reach through other means, such as the Internet, guerrilla marketing and in appropriately themed retail space. Shoe stores are a touchstone of many women's lives and places they associate closely with their own sense of themselves.

"The gold ring used to be television ads, and if you couldn't deliver that, you couldn't link with a feature film," said Diane Salerno, a partner in Six Degrees Global, a Los Angeles marketing consultancy. "But it's an attention deficit economy, and studio marketers understand the power of communicating messages in a variety of cultural environments."

Those environments traditionally have been grocery chains, fast-food restaurants and convenience stores, which still serve as promotional platforms albeit often crowded ones.

1996 Japanese version

Shall We Dance? is a remake of a 1996 Japanese film that was distributed by Miramax. The American version already has generated awards buzz for its lead performances.

"It's a really nice movie that hits right at the heart of our demo," said Sherwin Leff, director of client services for Foote Cone & Belding's Marketing Drive, Chicago. "We liked everything about this deal."

DSW has been working with Marketing Drive for about a year.

In other tie-ins, Starz Encore Group's cable channels are running the original Shall We Dance?, along with behind-the-scenes vignettes of the new version and other dance-themed movies. InterActiveCorp's Citysearch.com has been running a Web campaign with e-mail blasts, banners and a sweepstakes for a romantic trip giveaway. The online service has placement in the film.

Miramax's long-term alliance partner, Coors Brewing Co., and Marie Claire magazine sponsored the movie's premiere, and the women's magazine put J.Lo on a recent cover.
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