As if we needed more ways to waste our time on the internet.
I don’t think enough people are pointing out the fact that you generally don’t start sweating whether or not you’ll get immunity unless you’re certain – certain – you’ve done something illegal. If they want it this bad then it needs to be denied to them if for no other reason than to see what they’ve been doing that might be..oh, I don’t know…unconstitutional.
As one person on a panel discussion says, online efforts are now becoming the starting point, the centerpiece and the hub of marketing campaigns. That’s the central idea of a new media shift that is less about reach and more about reaching the right people with the right message, something that marketing and promotional partners can help you achieve.
Add to that the increasing budget share online is getting. Some of that money is new and some is being shifted there from other media. But the seven to 10 percent that’s common now is nothing compared to what is going to be coming down the pipe in the next couple years as the media consumption habits of people are recognized as a trend and not as an anomaly.
Despite that shift, a variety of factors contribute to most online campaigns not getting launched or completed on schedule. That’s not surprising to me since I see a lot of movie sites that still have “Coming Soon” sections the week the movie’s released. Plus, if you’re changing your website content once a week you need an RSS feed. Now.
As you strive to reach a local audience – something that perpetually seems to be the holy grail – don’t forget about radio. But radio has to adapt to the times and go digital to reach that local audience. Otherwise everyone is spinning their wheels.
There have been many movies that try and capture a child-like sense of wonder about toys or other symbols of innocence and the secret lives of the toys themselves or their creators. From Willy Wonka to Toy Story, the idea that there is magic or surprise lurking on the candy or toy shelves is a constant theme in family-friendly movies.
The latest movie that looks to peek behind the curtain, so to speak, is Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Dustin Hoffman plays Mr. Magorium, the proprietor of the titular toy store, a magical place where the toys are indeed alive. Working with him as his apprentice is Natalie Portman, a woman who knows the reality of the shop and who shares his enthusiasm. The plot is driven by Jason Batemen (TV’s “Arrested Development”) who plays an accountant who comes in and brings rain to the magical parade.
There was only one poster created by distributor 20th Century Fox and Walden Media, the producing studio. It’s a good poster that shows Hoffman’s character in his natural setting, surrounded by the toys he loves, with Portman’s helper by his side. Toys flutter and fly around him in a widely colorful image that does a good job of conveying the setting, if not the story, of the movie.
The main component of the poster is the “Thanksgiving” note that tells the audience when the movie is coming out. This immediately plays into the Christmas shopping season and positions it among all the warm, fuzzy feelings that are associated with it. “This is the movie,” the poster says, “that will help you feel all those idealized holiday feelings.” And it works at doing that. The poster sells the movie as a warm, family-friendly wonderful adventure.
Like the poster there was onlyone trailer made for the movie. And like the poster it’s filled with imagery that conveys just how magical the store and the movie are meant to be. Heck, it even uses Whimsical Trailer Voice-Over Guy, so you know it bears the mark of whimsy.
It starts off just setting up the store as we see kids – and Magorium and his assistant themselves – caught up in how magical the store is. Portman’s character underlines this when she says upon entering, “Good morning, store.” Things bounce around and act, well, alive, to the delight of everyone.
Until, that is, Bateman’s accountant comes in, with his serious attitude and air of not being fun at all. We eventually see him softening a bit, which isn’t really a spoiler since anyone who doesn’t see this coming hasn’t been watching movies since forever.
But overall the people who are child-like learn to mature a little while those who are too stuffy learn to be kids again and the trailer shows the bullet pointed outline of the plot and that’s fine. With a movie that’s trying to set itself up as a destination film for people beaten down by how un-magical some toy stores are it’s a good idea to let the audience know more or less just what it is they can expect. It’s a fun trailer and I’m not going to fault it for showing people the story.
The movie’s official website is a bit skimpy but has some good stuff.
“Story” is a nice two-paragraph long write up about the movie and its story that, for a change, does not spend 2/3 of its length talking about the studio and the pedigree of the producers. Too often we hear all about how fantastically wonderful the people who make the movie are andtoo little about the actual movie. Nice to see that change.
There’s a sparse four – yes, just four – pictures in “Gallery.” Come on. That’s it? Severe letdown. “Trailer” is, naturally, just the trailer.
“Downloads” contains five Wallpapers, eight Icons and – and this is kind of cool – three paper airplane instructions you can download and make.
Next up there’s a link to the Toy Drive and below that a “Build Your Own Toy” feature. Choose from a variety of toys to make – robot, doll, car, etc – and then drag and drop various items to make it your own. Your final product can be saved, printed or sent to someone via email. It’s very cool and works for the movie’s younger visitors. I can see letting my kids play with this.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
TV spots have been all over Chicago area television, as have print ads promoting early screenings of the movie. I haven’t seen much in the way of online advertising but that might just be me.
Going back to print ads, The Los Angeles Times announced a couple months ago they would be using Mr. Magorium to test a new ad format – scratch and sniff. In the race to salvage whatever ad revenue they could, the LAT agreed to place ads that smelled like cake frosting when you scratched them. The full-page ad, which was enclosed so as not to offend anyone, cost almost twice what a regular full-page ad in the paper would have.
Instead of a line of Mr. Magorium action figures or anything, the studio opted to re-package and re-brand classic toys like Lincoln Logs and such with the movie’s title. This is completely in keeping with the movie’s theme of imagination, since toys like that encourage not just scene recreation but imagination stimulation as well. The only toy that’s being specifically made for the movie is Sock Monkey, a central (toy) figure in the movie, but even it is a classic idea.
The toys are, in perhaps the most interesting promotional deal for the movie, being sold exclusively through Target stores. Target contributed its own promotional marketing for the partnership with a series of TV spots that were co-branded with the movie. And as you can see from this picture the movie toys also got featured in Target’s Sunday newspaper inserts.
Wendy’s is including Mr. Magorium toys in its Kids Meals, thereby satisfying the fast-food tie-in requirement.
In the week preceding the release the studio decorated a bunch of the trolleys that zig-zag through Chicago with Magorium branding. They were decked out festively with “Mr. Magorium’s Magic Trolley” along the side and a huge, fake turnkey poking out of the top. It caught me by surprise when I first saw it but I think it was a lot of fun and had the potential to catch the eye of Christmas shoppers wandering around The Loop. Similar buses were also running in New York City.
That was just one of a series of stunts the studio engaged in, including a huge LEGO construct outside a New York toy store and more. They also partnered with kids cable network Nick for a sweepstakes tied into the Toy Creator feature on the website, sending someone on a trip to New York.
It’s not all about buying toys, though. Walden Media also create The World Record Toy Drive, a partnership with Toys for Tots. They setup locations across the country for people to drop off toys for the charity, with a goal of collecting 12,000 pounds of toys that would then be distributed to disadvantaged children. I think this is a great idea, something that doesn’t happen often enough, and shows that Walden is willing to do more than just pay lip service to the idea of empowering children. Excellent move. At the end of the period they blew through their goal and had collected over 28,000 pounds of toys. Nice job.
This was a good campaign that, while light on content (one trailer and poster, a bit skimpy on the website) was heavy on brand consistency. Everything they did was designed to maintain the movie’s brand identity, with themes, imagery and other components carrying over across media. That, combined with the philanthropic effort of the toy drive, makes this a very good campaign as the studio shoots to lure holiday shoppers into the theaters.
So I got an invitation from Greg Verdino, part of the team at crayon, to try out Firebrand, a client of theirs. Firebrand is one of the recent entrants into the “commercials as destination content” market. Basically it creates a high-quality environment for advertisers to put up their spots, spots that can then be spread across the webs.
The Firebrand interface is very cool and user-friendly. The brands that are on the site are presented at the bottom and you can scroll through them or search to find what you’re looking for. Each spot has a link you can use to send readers back to the Firebrand page for that commercial or embed code for you to put it on your site. There are also a variety of buttons for you to use to add the spot to your favorites (once you’ve registered), blog it (which gives you the link and the embed code) or email it to someone.
I like the player a lot and encountered no issues with streaming the videos on the site.
While I take a good-natured jab at them in the headline I think sites like this make a lot of sense. Many of us in the media space are looking for places to find good quality clips for our sites or just for sharing and if Firebrand can become that hub they’ll be a useful part of people’s media consumption. I for one would use them if they had a good stock of movie trailers since they’re a higher-quality alternative to YouTube or Google Video.
I couldn’t get the embedded player to work here but you can check out the Saw IV trailer here.
Even if I didn’t know that it was the company that lured Jeremy Pepper away from the agency world I would still really like the idea behind The Point. You know all those social issues that are completely deserving of addressing but which can’t get off the ground commitment wise? The Point seeks to address that problem.
It works like this: Create or join a campaign then sit back. Only when enough people commit to action on that issue – once the number of members crosses the Tipping Point – are those who committed called upon to act. Those who start the campaigns decide what that looks like, whether it’s a financial pledges or number of members or some other goal line.
The reason I like this idea is that many well meaning people are constantly being asked for their time or money. But they don’t want either of those scant resources to be spent on something that doesn’t have the support of others and therefore has little chance of success. The Point tells people they’ll only be asked to contribute to causes that have the backing of enough people to actually effect change.
Crowds, as we’ve seen just about everywhere in the social media era, are a powerful force. The Point wants to make sure they have a big enough crowd to make a difference. It’s a good effort and I wish Pepper and the rest of the team luck.