Makes 'Mammoth' Investment in Backing 'Fantastic Four'

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YORK, Pa. -- The Fantastic Four have secured a fifth member: Samsung has agreed to back 20th Century Fox’s superhero saga The Fantastic Four with an extensive multimillion-dollar campaign that includes not only prominent product placement in the film, but also in the movie video game as well.
Samsung returns to the big screen after the 'Matrix' marketing washout two years ago to heavily back Fox's 'Fantastic Four.'

The electronics marketer's support marks its return to the big screen two years after launching a massive $100 million campaign around Warner Bros.’ The Matrix Reloaded, a promotion that many marketing mavens described as a washout.

For Fantastic Four, which opens July 8, Samsung will rollout its tie-in campaign with TV, print and in-theater ads later this week. It has already launched online promotions and banners on hundreds of Web sites. The effort is launching before the movie debuts, but the initial launch will be small, with the bulk of the media spend occurring in the six weeks after the movie opens.

Samsung gadgets dominate

In the film all of the computer monitors, TVs and mobile phones are Samsung-branded. Additionally, a Samsung TV ad will appear on a billboard in Times Square, Samsung ads will be noticeable on top of taxi cabs and the brand will appear elsewhere on set as well.

The TV and cinema ads, as well as print, feature images of Samsung products with Fantastic Four characters or content interaction. Rotating Web advertising features three themes: a joint promotion with 20th Century Fox for a chance to win a role in the next Fantastic Four movie; a second one featuring Activision’s video game based on the movie; and the third is a partnership with Best Buy to drive people to the stores to buy the new Samsung products featured in the movie.

But Samsung will push the barriers of film integration by integrating its brand and products into the Activision video game for the movie. The game is due out June 28.

'Big, mammoth and rabid' marketing budget

Peter Weedfald, Samsung senior vice president for consumer electronics and North American corporate marketing, wouldn’t reveal the company’s marketing budget for Fantastic Four, but described it as, "big, mammoth and rabid."

"I'm betting with my 25 years of experience that this movie will be a blockbuster," he said, "This will be a thunderclap for our brand and products."

Fantastic Four is Fox’s highest-profile release this summer. The film, based on Marvel Comics characters, revolves around four astronauts who are changed by cosmic rays when a mission goes awry: Inventor Reed Richards gains the ability to stretch his body and takes the name Mr. Fantastic. His girlfriend Sue Storm gains the ability to turn invisible and create force fields, calling herself the Invisible Woman. Her younger brother Johnny Storm gains the ability to control fire, including covering his own body with flames, becoming the Human Torch. And pilot Ben Grimm is turned into a rock creature and is called The Thing. They use their unique powers to foil the evil plans of Doctor Doom.

Samsung will air a 30-second spot on TV and a 60-second ad in movie theaters, featuring footage from the film intercut with Samsung products. Those ads start June 24. Cheil Communications America, working with 20th Century Fox, created the ad campaign.

Ongoing entertainment strategy

The entire effort is the newest, and largest to date, in Samsung's ongoing strategy to ally itself with entertainment. The company already has deals with Microsoft for its upcoming Xbox 360. That includes placement in one of the first games, Perfect Dark Zero. It also has deals with musical groups like Jon Bon Jovi and The Who.

"So now Samsung is no longer a brand of cold steel, but a warm exciting superbrand, because the content that appeals to you comes to you through Samsung products," Mr. Weedfald said.

The video game tie-in is of particular interest to industry watchers, as this is one of the first efforts to do movie and movie video-game integration at the same time.

"What Samsung is doing is very extensive, and it means they are very serious about getting their brand in front of this audience," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group said. "It's a bit risky if the movie is a flop, but I'd say it's a reasonably good gamble based on initial reports [of Fantastic Four]."

Keeping up with rivals

The Fantastic Four campaign is also rolling out as rivals have agreed to back other major tentpoles, like Hitachi’s big-budget backing of Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures’ War of the Worlds.

"It's not just the War of the Worlds this summer, but the war of the tech brands this summer," joked Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg.

Even if Fantastic Four ends up underperforming at the box office, analysts believe Samsung will be left unscathed.

"The truth is the Samsung brand is strong and it won't hurt them to be there even if the movie isn't good,” Mr. Garternberg said. “The upside is it's a really good subliminal opportunity to drive the brand home in a way they can't do at Best Buy with 100 other competing products sitting on the shelf."
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