How Zynga and YouTube Are Shaping DreamWorks' Marketing Strategy

Worldwide CMO Anne Globe on Adding Startups to the Media Mix

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As head of worldwide marketing for DreamWorks Animation, Ms. Globe has seen the marketing power of one of Silicon Valley's hottest startups -- Zynga -- increase exponentially. When DreamWorks Animation became the first studio to partner with Zygna's "FarmVille" last November, creating a virtual "MegaFarm" to promote "MegaMind," the effort netted 15 million players. When the studio reteamed with Zynga in May for a "CityVille" integration in support of "Kung Fu Panda 2," the promotion got more than 40 million players.

Anne Globe
Anne Globe

"It's a pretty exciting and very fast way to connect with our audience at a very significant level," Ms. Globe said. "It's unlike a TV spot, which does have tremendous value to hit a lot folks at one time, but then it's gone. With a social opportunity like Zynga, you really have the chance to be there a little bit longer with your fans."

Finding new opportunities like these has helped justify DreamWorks Animation's efforts to devote more than 10% of its media budget to digital endeavors (the studio spent $635 million on measured media in 2010, according to Kantar Media), outpacing many of its Hollywood peers. Its next tentpole film, November's "Shrek" spinoff "Puss in Boots," introduced a YouTube channel over the weekend that logged more then 1.4 million views in 48 hours for its first clip, "He's So Legendary..." Ms. Globe has also been able to integrate many of the studio's marketing partners -- from McDonald's to Intel to Hewlett-Packard -- into digital efforts, a strategy that will continue in the coming months as DreamWorks Animation rolls out more branded apps for its films.

Other studios are pursuing their own digital efforts to convert fans into ticket-buyers. Lionsgate and Universal, for example, have tried using daily-deal sites such as Groupon and Daily Candy, with mixed results. "We have not figured out how to activate that in a way that makes sense for our films," Ms. Globe said. "We're always open to whatever the next big deal is . There are so many other opportunities that we've had tremendous success with so we've stayed focused on those."

Ms. Globe will discuss her insights in digital marketing with Ad Age Digital Editor Michael Learmonth at Ad Age 's Digital West conference in San Francisco on Sept. 20. Ad Age caught up with her the week before to get a preview of her discussion.

Ad Age : How important is the digital/startup community to your target audience these days, and where do you find them?

Anne Globe: For us at DreamWorks Animation, making two to three animated movies per year, your research gets tried and true over time. Our audience gets the majority of its information first from TV, secondly now from YouTube, thirdly from other social sites depending on the demographic makeup of whatever target we have, whether it's Facebook mommy blogs, Twitter. And probably the fourth area is word-of -mouth, which stems from all of that , even more so from the social sites. Lastly, there's the movie theaters themselves. We do have the advantage of the in-theater environment, being able to advertise our product right where our consumers are.

Ad Age : How do you evaluate potential digital or startup marketing partners?

Ms. Globe: We talk to various partners and try to approach it in two different ways. We want to figure out what are the most inventive things to do on YouTube and try to do those. Then we look at the established social media environment, because there's a big fan base that exists where we can target our audience specifically and create material that will sustain and engage. Lastly, the most fun part is looking at what are those new kinds of startup opportunities that can break us out of the pack of all the information that people get in their day-to-day, especially about movies. A great example of that was being the first movie partner with Zygna when they were just hitting their huge stride. They've been a tremendous partner. There have been few things that drove what they did, and we're really exited about trying something new. We like the entrepreneurial spirit of these companies -- just trying to get out there and do something different.

Ad Age : How else are you looking to innovate in the digital space?

Ms. Globe: The next horizon of this, which we're dabbling in now, is the app environment and what you can do with movie tie-ins -- not just promotionally, but with tie-in apps. They've become a rich opportunity for engagement with the fan base. When we launch a film -- whether it's a unique concept inspired here or by a literary property like "Shrek" or a release we have at the end of 2012 called "The Guardians," based on a series of books Bill Joyce will be releasing starting this fourth quarter -- we're always looking at creating franchises where the entertainment will continue beyond the initial film. Not only in sequels but also an opportunity to be translated into merchandise and live shows and games and apps and viral videos. That is where the spokes of this just continue to grow.

Ad Age : How is digital working harder for your marketing budget than other forms of media?

Ms. Globe: We've continued to shift probably from the most traditional media, which I guess would be print, to digital which is probably up to 10 or more percent of our budget now. The shift within that box has come from what's available for you to do in the digital space. We've moved much more to social engagement and social sites like Face Twitters vs. in the early days of "Buy more banner ads and click-through ads." There's much more of an opportunity to create an ongoing connection with our fans, beyond the movie to keep those fans. "Shrek" has 17 million fans on Facebook, so we want to keep those fans with us through the DVDs and other materials that we're launching by talking to a base of folks excited bout "Shrek." They're going to want to have more information and we'll want to continue to interact with them through entertainment. But we have sustained the television model. It's a terrific way for us to connect with our audience. With an animated movie you really want to show the characters in action and find a way to do that digitally. We're still in the early stages of what we're going to do there creatively.

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