Video cross-promotions have become a potent tool for brand marketers, connecting consumer goods with highly visible titles. The latter half of 1996 could be another great season for cross-promotions based on movies set for theatrical debuts this spring; depending on the box office reception, they could get a video release in late 1996.
Studio marketing executives are already in discussions with brand marketers to line up partners for what they think will be the break-out video titles this coming fall and winter.
Patti Ganguzza, vice president of Aim Promotions in Astoria, N.Y., already has her eye on what she pegs as the "big titles" with video potential for the last half of 1996. There's "Pinocchio" from New Line, "The Goose Project" and "Matilda" from Columbia, the sequel to "All Dogs Go to Heaven" from MGM/UA and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" from Disney. They all have broad family appeal, always a key for brand marketers. "Children's titles always have a good shot at success because they are collectibles," she said. Talking about late-year video titles is speculative, of course, especially when the theatrical release may still be months off. Craig Relyea, vice president of marketing for MCA/Universal Home Video, Universal City, Calif., noted, "The toughest problem we face is we cannot predict how theatrical titles will do. That determines our video release patterns." Still, he sees strong tie-in potential for "Ed," a movie about a baseball-playing chimp due in March, and "Flipper," tentatively due out in May, about everybody's favorite dolphin. The biggest release, for late May, will be "Dragonheart," with Dennis Quaid, and with Sean Connery providing the voice of a computer-animation dragon.
Looking at current projects, Relyea noted, "We've partnered with Tropicana for 'Apollo 13' and also with 'Babe,' which will be released on video this month. There's a natural synergy there. It makes a lot of sense for the number of accounts that carry both grocery and video products." Tropicana and MCA/Universal are now both owned by Seagram Co.
Such major releases typically connect with the biggest brands. They've got the broadcast budgets, distribution and shelf space to help carry a sell-through promotion to success. Other video releases, however, also offer significant opportunities for smaller marketers, or marketers looking to reach a niche.
Turner Home Entertainment, Atlanta, for example, is launching its Cartoon Network video brand in March with "Classic Jonny Quest," with releases of classic "Scooby-Doo" and "Jetsons" episodes later this year. Dan Capone, THE's director of marketing for sell-through, said that Burger King is already on board for "Scooby-Doo," with other packaged goods companies in solicitation. "We are looking at a major cereal company as a partner. It will leverage the videos' strength in supermarkets," he said. Pillsbury Co. and Pizza Hut are already involved with the license of "The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest," the new series set to debut on TV in September. Turner is also looking for partners for the video release of that series.
THE plans two other line launches later this year. One will be Turner Classic Movies, drawn from 750 titles starring the likes of John Wayne and Fred Astaire. Capone said, "We are definitely looking for tie-in partners, among cereal makers and snack food companies."
The other launch from THE is the animated children's series "Adventures From the Book of Virtues," taken from the book by Bill Bennett. PBS will begin broadcasting the series on Labor Day. THE has the video rights.
"We think it's a natural for tie-in partners. Any company that sells products to families with young children will be a prime candidate," Capone said.