Co-Marketing Deal Gives It Screen Time in 'Failure to Launch'

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LOS ANGELES -- A savvy and scrappy online dating service that’s not the category leader has become the belle of the Hollywood ball, courting its growing ties to the entertainment industry and hooking up with another major studio film. beat out and eHarmony for the movie placement and co-marketing deal. has teamed with Paramount Pictures for a co-marketing program around the upcoming romantic comedy “Failure to Launch,” beating out some larger and better-known competitors like and eHarmony.

The move comes after an entertainment-filled 2005 in which nearly doubled its membership with ties to the Warner Bros. romantic comedy “Must Love Dogs” and its DVD, and syndicated chat shows “Live with Regis & Kelly” and “Dr. Phil.”

Paramount executives said they considered a number of potential partners for “Failure to Launch,” opening MArch 10, but chose to work with for fairly simple reasons.

Targeted in their marketing

“Their positioning is great for this movie, and they’re very targeted in their marketing,” said LeeAnne Stables, Paramount Pictures’ senior-VP worldwide marketing partnerships. “Plus, they get it. They bring so much offline support to a program.”

The lesson to be learned here, show business executives say, is if you know what to offer Hollywood, you have a better shot at landing a partnership with a high-profile project even though you aren’t the biggest player in your field.

Online dating services and eHarmony are the behemoths, with 15 million and 10 million members, respectively, while sites as diverse as Yahoo Personals, and Craigslist provide a thriving forum for singles to mingle., a relative newcomer, has about 3 million members now, up from 1.5 million a year ago. The growth has come largely through the site’s deft use of its entertainment relationships.

“It’s an important part of what we do, and it’s been an important part of our success,” said Duane Dahl, PerfectMatch’s president-CEO. “We like to create fully integrated programs, not just drop a print ad in a magazine. We really want to be a partner and basically become an extension of a studio’s marketing department.”

Marketing program

The program around “Failure to Launch,” for instance, includes cable TV ads, radio spots, print in Entertainment Weekly magazine, online ads and a dedicated microsite, and local market dating events and movie screenings. PerfectMatch doled out 500,000 gift certificates during the events, with movie ads attached.

PerfectMatch, which has product placement in the film, committed to spending an undisclosed amount of media money to promote the movie, as it has done for prior projects. The company generally does not pay integration or product placement fees, instead offering up its paid media and its partnerships with marketers like 1-800-Flowers and Lifetime Television as valuable real estate. It also markets to its existing customer base.

For all the talk from marketers of shifting money to nontraditional media and lessening their reliance on so-called old media, Paramount executives said a blending of the two works best on broad-based entertainment.

“We go for the surround-sound on a campaign,” Ms. Stables said. “There needs to be a mix of traditional media and new, and you need to be visible in nontraditional places.”

Super Cuts and Baskin Robbins deal

To that end, Ms. Stables also made deals with SuperCuts for exposure in 2,100 locations and Baskin Robbins for in-store hype in 2,500 stores. Those partners, along with Hilton Hotels, created sweepstakes around the movie’s theme, sent e-mail blasts to their consumers and promoted through other media channels.

All partners are using the artwork from the film that features stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey. Securing rights to talent images can be a sticky subject between studios and marketing partners, and in this case, would not have wanted to co-promote the movie without being able to use the stars in their marketing efforts.

“We need to go beyond legs dangling from a broomstick,” Mr. Dahl said, referring to the promotions around Sony’s “Bewitched” last year in which the partners had no rights to Nicole Kidman’s image and instead settled for a shot from the waist down of her character riding a broom.

One of the movie’s co-stars, Terry Bradshaw, co-owns the SuperCuts Busch Series race car. He’s participating in a SuperCuts contest that gives away a trip to a Nascar race this weekend in Las Vegas, where he’ll hobnob with the winners. During the race, the SuperCuts car will feature “Failure to Launch” artwork.

Scouting other entertainment properties

Executives at, owned by Kirkland-Wash.-based MarketRange, are scouting for other entertainment properties for this year and next. After working on a launch event for “How I Met Your Mother” with CBS, executives are discussing how they can be involved in the next season of the hit sitcom. They’re also considering ties to various TV on DVD releases.

Mr. Dahl said he has high hopes for “Failure to Launch,” and that it’s a solid partnership for the company based on its bankable cast, relationship themes and female target.

The movie follows Ms. Parker’s character, who’s hired to force Mr. McConaughey’s man-child to leave his parents’ home. Mr. Bradshaw and Kathy Bates play the parents.

Paramount could use a hit. The studio, which recently absorbed DreamWorks’ live action studio, has gone through a number of senior-level executive shifts over the past year or so and has struggled with its film slate. Audiences were not impressed by such ’05 fare as “Aeon Flux” and “Elizabethtown,” although “War of the Worlds” was the third highest-grossing movie of the year.

The studio hopes this year’s lineup of films, which includes “Mission: Impossible III” and “World Trade Center,” can bring up the bottom line.

Modestly budgeted romantic comedies can fuel a slate, as well, with Paramount’s “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and Sony’s “Hitch” showing that a hit in the genre can be highly profitable.
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