Entertainment A-List 2009

Entertainment A-List No. 4: Twilight

Summit Entertainment's Bloodsuckers Seduce Tweens, Moms

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In 2008, virginal vampires ruled the bookshelves and the big screen, thanks to Stephenie Meyer's fantasy romance tale, "Twilight."

Nancy Kirkpatrick, president of worldwide marketing, Summit Entertainment
Nancy Kirkpatrick, president of worldwide marketing, Summit Entertainment
A smart program including blog outreach and mall tours propelled "Twilight" to the third biggest film in advance ticket sales, according to Fandango. It grossed $70 million in its opening weekend and nearly $400 million to date. All of this refueled sales of the book to over 40 million copies of the series now sold.

Of course, with a popular book series translated in some 20 languages, the movie's marketing could have been little more than an afterthought. But indie Summit Entertainment had three big goals in mind -- to build a franchise, a brand and a phenomenon -- so getting the strategy right at the outset was a must, especially when you consider there was no precedent for a female-based franchise, according to Nancy Kirkpatrick, Summit's president of worldwide marketing.

Coping with a limited budget meant that Ms. Kirkpatrick had to devise innovative tactics like midnight movie releases and mall tours to expand "Twilight's" buzz. Confident it could count on its core audience of tween girls, Summit turned its marketing efforts to capture a different demographic: moms. "We started trying to expand the mom base by offering it up as a portal to talk to their daughters," said Ms. Kirkpatrick, noting that the love story is void of sex scenes. It launched a TwilightMoms blog, and arranged to send five bloggers for TwilightMoms.com to Oregon during the filming of the movie to hang out on set.

To broaden its appeal, Summit launched a nationwide mall tour in partnership with rocker-inspired retailer Hot Topic, dispatching the stars to fan the flames.

Opening-weekend gross:
Gross revenue:
Summit's partners included Hollywood entertainment-marking firm Cimarron Group, PR firm ID and Atlantic Records for the soundtrack, which rocketed to the top of the Billboard 200 chart and lingered on the list for several weeks.

Not on a school night
For the North American release of the DVD in March, Summit strategized a midnight Friday launch instead of the typical street date of Tuesday to allow the core fans, many in high school, to celebrate outside of the school week. The result? The DVD release saw a staggering 3 million units sold in the very first day.

Another winner with "Twilight" was Volvo, whose chance tie-in to the movie gave the Swedish carmaker a boost in one of the worst years in the auto industry's history.

Ms. Meyer wrote Volvo into the book, something the automaker had nothing to do with, according to John Maloney, VP-marketing and product planning. But Volvo capitalized on the opportunity, stepping in to suggest that the make best suited for young vampire Edward was a silver C30, a sports coupe that had launched a year prior.

"When you're known as being a very safe, reliable car, you're not always known as being an exciting-to-drive car. ... [The 'Twilight' integration] gave us a lot of exposure on a niche car we hadn't put tons and tons of marketing behind." The car got a lengthy four minutes of screen time -- a combo of action-packed scenes and beauty shots.

"For our dealers, who aren't necessarily of the age that this book and movie appeals to, it was a real eye-opener," said Mr. Maloney, adding "we definitely sold cars off it." Volvo saw a lift in C30 sales as soon as the movie came out, and again when it was released on DVD. And you can bet Volvo will be back for the second installment of the film franchise, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon."

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