Paramount Breaks Out the Booty Sweat
LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- Before the start of a recent press screening for Ben Stiller's forthcoming action comedy "Tropic Thunder," a fake, over-the-top commercial for a fictitious energy drink called Booty Sweat appears, provoking great hilarity from the industry crowd in attendance.
Riffing on Hollywood's often ham-handed product-placement deals, Booty Sweat also appears sporadically throughout "Tropic Thunder," which tells the story of an out-of-control, over-budget action movie of the same name that's shut down by a cost-conscious studio chief. In order to finish his epic, the auteur director takes his churlish and unmanageable cast of fake soldiers into an actual war zone without their knowledge.
Now, in an unusual move for a movie studio, Paramount Pictures (maker of the actual "Tropic Thunder") is licensing the fictional brand as a real beverage available nationwide to help promote "Tropic Thunder" in advance of its Aug. 15 wide release.
Brand could have legs
"Not to my knowledge has this ever been done before," said Michael Corcoran, president of consumer products at Paramount Pictures. "We're very excited, because it has the potential to live for quite a while, well beyond the film."
Paramount licensed the energy drink to novelty-products firm Boston America Corp., which will debut Booty Sweat at retailers including Hot Topic, Hastings, Wherehouse and Coconuts, as well as Amazon.com and college bookstores across the nation. Mr. Corcoran declined to say how much the deal was worth to Paramount, but did note that "several hundred thousand" cases of Booty Sweat had been produced.
The idea to make Booty Sweat, the beverage, a reality occurred to Paramount executives last February, after they wandered into Boston America's booth at the Magic Marketplace, the nation's largest apparel and accessory trade event, held annually in Las Vegas.
Two versions available
The can's label will be customized for "urban" and "rural" markets. Metropolitan stores will carry the description of the concoction as a "delicious and bump up struttin' energy drink that will pump up a brotha's ass right-pronto. This swill will crank yo' metabolism up skippin' right over jiggy to straight G-pimp level, word to your mutha. Brothas will be layin' down the 2-3 on the wiggy jig focusing the energy flow into cold-face benjamins that will fill yo' pimp pockets to burstin'. Damn straight! Booty Sweat will keep a brotha pitchin' straight game all night to the baby-dolls."
Rural stores will get a can that simply has the Booty Sweat moniker, but no street slang.
(Contrary to its moniker, though, Booty Sweat has a taste that's more effervescent cherry than Perrier of the derriere, at least according to Paramount director of licensing Tammy Stockfish, who tasted a can for herself last week.)
A handful of other films have licensed formerly fictional products, but until now such deals came long after the picture left theaters.
For example, last December, a futuristic energy drink called Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator appeared in convenience stores on the East and West coasts. Savvy consumers of pop culture immediately recognized it as the key plot device from "Idiocracy," Mike Judge's sci-fi comedy about an ordinary man (Luke Wilson) who takes part in a cryogenics experiment; when he awakens 500 years in the future, his ordinary intellect makes him the world's smartest man in a nation of dumbed-down nitwits. (Mr. Wilson's character ultimately saves the world from starvation when he suggests not feeding crops Brawndo, but actual water.)
Fox had abandoned "Idiocracy" to only a handful of theaters after a dispute with Mr. Judge over its dark tone and dystopic view of the future, but an Oakland, Calif., entrepreneur named Pete Hottelet wouldn't let the product die. Mr. Hottelet and his wife, Wendy, contacted Fox about licensing Brawndo as an actual energy drink.
"It took them several months to call me back, and several months more to do the deal," Mr. Hottelet said. He later said he paid Fox "probably a lot more than I should have" to license the drink. "But you only live once." So far, Mr. Hottelet said he has sold some 10,000 cases of the elixir by partnering with Redux Beverages, which also makes the controversial Cocaine energy drink.
Mr. Hottelet's lessons in dealing with Fox lead him to make a better deal with Paramount recently for Sex Panther, a faux cologne featured in 2006's Paramount/Dreamworks' Will Ferrell comedy "Anchorman." In that comedy, Mr. Ferrell refers to the fragrance as "150% More Awesome Than Any Cologne. Ever."
Now, Sex Panther will find release nationwide this September, in a partnership between Mr. Hottelet and Illinois-based Romane Fragrances.
More than a novelty
"If you make a high-quality product that people would buy on its own merits," said Mr. Hottelet, "then having it attached to a major film property gives you an advantage over other products in the marketplace, or even a new brand launched with no big idea behind it. I feel very strongly that Brawndo can replace Red Bull, because it's a good product. No one's going to say, 'It tastes like crap, but it's funny so I'll drink it.'"
Added Mr. Hottelet, "The same thing goes for fragrances: Sex Panther is designed to compete with Drakkar Noir or a CK One. It doesn't smell like the inside of a taxi cab."