Movie tie-ins for grown-ups

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"Harry Potter" wristwatches. "Batman" action figures. "Memoirs of a Geisha" face wash.

What? A movie tie-in geared toward adults?

You bet. Gone is the Hollywood adage that you need an adventure flick and a Happy Meal to milk a movie's retail potential.

To market "Memoirs of a Geisha," which opens Friday, Sony Pictures Entertainment is targeting adults with clothing and beauty products at a variety of retailers, including Sephora and Banana Republic.

"This is a brilliant move and a first," said Peter Sealey, adjunct professor of marketing at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. "The unique thing here is a much more elegant tie-in to what's basically a sophisticated, female audience."

"Memoirs," based on the 1997 best seller about an impoverished Japanese girl who becomes a legendary geisha, is full of milkable themes, from lavish tea ceremonies to Asian beauty.

And retailers were eager to partner with Sony for a cut of its hefty marketing budget, which Sealey estimates at $50 million. The average budget, he says, is around $30 million.

Marketing budgets for films have gone up 700% in the past 20 years, said Sealey, author of "Not on My Watch: Hollywood vs. the Future." "Memoir's" is particularly high, he added, because it is being released during the holiday season against fellow heavyweights such as "King Kong."

-"Elegant marketing tie-ins back `Memoirs' release" by Jessica Yadegran, Contra Costa Times, Dec. 4

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