EBay gets in the ring with MGM to push 'Rocky'

Partnership is part of campaign to sell movie to wide range of consumers

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MGM is hoping Rocky and eBay will help in its quest to once again be a contender.

The studio has partnered with online giant eBay for the launch of "Rocky Balboa," the sixth film in the storied franchise and one that reportedly harks back to the original, Oscar-winning, against-the-odds story. The promotion will put Sylvester Stallone's voice on the home page touting the film's catchphrase, "It ain't over 'til it's over." The mantra dovetails with eBay's "It" campaign and its down-to-the-wire auctions of consumer goods.

EBay also plans a sweepstakes giving away screenings of the movie, trips to Rocky's hometown of Philadelphia and other prizes. And, playing to the company's strengths and core audience, it also will auction off Rocky memorabilia and props, with proceeds going to the Heart of a Child Foundation.

The eBay partnership, which includes a dedicated microsite, targeted e-mails and direct-mail catalogs reaching millions of consumers, is aimed at the masses at a time when the site will have its heaviest traffic of the year.

Last December, 75 million people visited eBay, making it the top retail destination site, ahead of Amazon.com and Walmart.com, according to ComScore Media Metrix.

"We're focusing on the timeless themes of the movie, like the emotions, the character-based drama, winning against all odds," said Perry Stahman, MGM's president-theatrical marketing. "Having eBay helps us bridge the gap between the hard-core Rocky fans and the broader audience."

In leaving no potential moviegoing group untapped, the studio has also reached out to the faith and family audience by emphasizing the movie's inspirational messages and to boomers via a link with the AARP.

"Rocky Balboa," launching Dec. 20, is the final movie in the series. It stars a 60-year-old Sylvester Stallone reprising the role he first made famous in 1976. Produced by Revolution Studios, it's being distributed and marketed by MGM in a model the studio will follow for much of its output.

MGM, with a new management team and a mandate to become a player again in the film industry, is using "Rocky Balboa" to build the franchise in ways that weren't done in the past. The studio, which will focus largely on tent-pole and franchise properties, is releasing the first collector's edition of the original "Rocky," along with new merchandise.

"There's an opportunity to really push the whole brand out there in a more significant way than has ever been done before," Mr. Stahman said.

The studio's push for "Rocky Balboa" started with sports fans. Mr. Stallone was part of ESPN's recent "Monday Night Football" in Philadelphia, where the "Rocky" theme song and messages were embedded throughout the game.

The marketing also has branched out to target gym rats through Everlast sports brand and Gold's Gym, women through Home Shopping Network, and hip-hop fans with a Three 6 Mafia song on the soundtrack.
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