Carl's Jr. munches on some 'Green Hornet' in unlikely placement

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Dec 2 2010

It's a distant memory that the upcoming comic-based action flick The Green Hornet got shopped to auto manufacturers as part of a whopping $35 million product placement deal. (This was 2003, but that seems like a very long time ago. Back then, there was a decent amount of interest from marketers in putting their nameplate on the hero car, the Black Beauty. It would've been record-breaking in car/movie marriages if it had happened.) Now, after years of development hell and script, studio, director and star changes, there's—wait for it—a Carl's Jr. tie-in! Carl's Jr.? Anyway, throw in sister chain Hardee's and it's a national promo and a source of added media for the movie, which needs all the help it can get launching in the early-January dead zone. The burger chain is giving away a tricked-out version of the Black Beauty, a vintage Chrysler Imperial, and just released its first commercial with stars Seth Rogan and Jay Chou as the movie's masked crime fighters. The spot blends explosions, gadgets and wisecracks in a way that's probably indicative, judging by early reports, of what we can expect from the flick. In other words, yikes. At least the car's really hot.

Disney makes fake pharma, fragrance commercials for 'Tangled'

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Nov 29 2010

Disney's animated movies aren't just for kids. And to prove the point—and maybe to keep up with Pixar and parody-loving competitors—the studio has created a couple of mock commercials for its new animated feature, Tangled. Pretty convincingly produced in the styles of pharmaceutical and perfume ads, Disney aims for the clips to go viral (not sure how that's working out, but the spots are fun anyway). The fake ad for Rapunzhair, above, with a soothing-toned voiceover recognizable from a million drug commercials, aired recently during Saturday Night Live, obviously aimed at an audience that may or may not have kids to take to the 3-D reimagining of Rapunzel. (And it has spoilers!) See the fake fragrance spot after the jump. Tangled, which opened the day before Thanksgiving, had a good weekend at the box office, though it didn't catch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Grownups welcome.

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Blockbuster to launch a major we're-not-dead-yet ad campaign

By David Kiefaber on Mon Nov 22 2010


Remember the $125 million that Blockbuster Video got upon declaring bankruptcy back in September? Yeah, $15-20 million of that is going toward an ad campaign that takes shots at competitors Redbox and Netflix. Money well spent! Blockbuster is trying to bounce back by introducing a DVD kiosk line of its own, but they still want you to know that they have new releases almost a month before their competition. Why they would attempt to rebrand by stressing what clearly isn't a thriving business model is beyond me, especially since they haven't done a TV ad campaign in three years. Rebounding from financial limbo is never easy, granted, but Blockbuster just can't accept that its poor customer-service reputation (especially the ridiculous fees) eclipsed the monopoly they used to have on video rentals when better options surfaced. If they want to make this work, they have to change their service model and actually fix the bad juju they have with consumers. Otherwise, they're just wasting money, which they also do well in advance of their competitors.

What can a damning Roger Ebert quote do for sales of a DVD?

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Nov 15 2010


Roger Ebert is not a PR specialist, but he sure is skilled at the sound bite. The legendary film critic, as prolific as ever despite catastrophic illnesses, had some choice words recently for The Perfect Man, a Hilary Duff rom-com. "The Perfect Man takes its idiotic plot and uses it as the excuse for scenes of awesome stupidity," he wrote. Realizing how lyrical that sentence was, or else completely missing the point in translation, the movie's Asian distributor picked up the biting comment and put it on the DVD's cover. Movieline thought it would be grand to expand the idea, putting some especially insulting Ebert critiques on other DVDs. Think it'll help rentals if people know Ebert called The Lovely Bones "a deplorable film," or Sex and the City 2 "pretty thin gruel"? The Last Airbender was "an agonizing experience" and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo was "aggressively bad." Kick Ass, a blood-drenched action flick that should've been a box-office hit but somehow fell flat, was labeled "morally reprehensible." Hey, this kind of stuff worked for Gossip Girl. Why not movies, too?

Adam Sandler bestows Maseratis on lucky 'Grown Ups' co-stars

By T.L. Stanley on Thu Nov 11 2010


Elvis used to hand out brand-new Cadillacs to people who came to his shows, and Oprah has been known to shower her audiences with Pontiacs. Looks like Adam Sandler is horning in on the act, though on a slightly smaller scale. The comedian doled out $200,000 Maseratis to his co-stars from Grown Ups, a summer flick that pulled in $270 million at the box office worldwide. It's being released on DVD next week and could wind up in a lot of Christmas stockings. (Is that instead of the lump of coal, or in addition to it?) Sandler's largesse might come from the fact that he had a lot of skin in this game—he's one of the credited writers on the comedy about high school buddies reuniting, and he was also one of the producers. Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James and Rob Schneider were on the receiving end of the pre-holiday gift of the ultra-luxe Italian sports car. They're probably all hoping for a sequel.

Jean-Claude Van Damme wants Aussies to stop hoarding DVDs

By Todd Wasserman on Mon Nov 8 2010

Apparently, DVD hoarding is a big problem in Australia. Who knew? To clear out people's old DVD collections, and make way for new ones, Sony Pictures enlisted none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme to make the case for "DVD Amnesty"—a program that offers $5 off new DVDs for each old DVD donated. "I'm Jean-Claude Van Damme, and I bust my balls in my movie career," Van Damme says, "and it's painful to hear that some Australians are treating their DVDs like stockpiling plastic." For me, this campaign is bittersweet: While it's sad to hear of Australia's DVD problem, it's heartening to know that Van Damme still has something to do.

DreamWorks jumps into FarmVille with a 'Megamind' mega-farm

By Todd Wasserman on Fri Nov 5 2010


As the belle of the social-media gaming ball, Zynga's FarmVille has engaged in quite a few corporate hookups of late. There was that 24-hour fling with McDonald's, then another promo with Farmer's Insurance. Now, DreamWorks is promoting its upcoming movie Megamind with a "Mega-Farm" amusement park inside the game—part of a one-day-only promotion tied to the animated movie's premiere today. For those who play the game and annoyingly bug all your Facebook buddies, the promotion includes a "Mega-Grow" formula which helps you instantly grow crops that don't wilt and a collectible decorative item for you to feature in your very own farms. Virtual farmers, rejoice!

Grisly '127 Hours' makes people faint. Is that a marketing hook?

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Nov 3 2010


If there's one thing that late shlockmeister William Castle knew, it's this: If no one in the audience loses consciousness during a horror movie, it's not a successful opening. (In case they weren't scared enough to pass out, he always had some ringers in the room. He was nothing if not a thorough planner.) Castle, whose 1950s flicks still get gimmicky midnight and revival showings, would be salivating at 127 Hours. The Fox Searchlight drama, opening in a few cities this Friday from Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, has had people dropping like flies at industry screenings and film festivals. So far, according to the Los Angeles Times, at least a dozen audience members have passed out after watching a particularly gruesome scene. The movie, shot documentary-style with James Franco as the star, was inspired by the real-life experience of a hiker who amputated his forearm to escape boulders that had trapped him. In reality, the pocket-knife surgery took an hour, but the film, mercifully, takes only a few minutes to portray what happened. No matter. Swooning has ensued. Fox Searchlight, a nimble and insightful marketer with hits like Slumdog Millionaire, Napoleon Dynamite and Little Miss Sunshine to its credit, apparently isn't advertising the faintings in its marketing. ("We don't see a particular publicity value in it," says studio co-president Stephen Gilula. Multiplexes, on the other hand, might post some warnings so that moviegoers are aware of the intense content. Castle would've parked a few ambulances outside and stocked the room with "nurses." Ah, showmanship. It's a lost art.

Ladies, would you buy a $795 pair of 'Tron: Legacy' high heels?

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Oct 20 2010


When are couture-inspired stilettos a good piece of movie marketing, and when are they just silly? According to Jezebel, Disney has come up with a $795 pair of futuristic-looking strappy sandals themed to the movie Tron: Legacy. While we can all argue about the price and relevance of such an item, let's back up a minute. First of all, high-end goods that launch with a movie are nothing new. They're almost de rigeur, depending on the flick and its target. (Example: Alice in Wonderland jewelry.) Second, designers like Jerome C. Rousseau, who created the sleek silver Tron heels, have been making deals with Hollywood for years, looking for a lift from the mega-million-dollar ad campaigns that surround event movies. Studios, in turn, enjoy the cachet (and potential revenue) they get from the association. That said, why would anybody want these kicks? If you're a woman with this kind of cash, would you a) be a fan of the December-opening sci-fi movie and b) want to display that on your feet? I wouldn't see much of a connection to the movie if a person were wearing the pricey footwear with no other outward signs of Tron: Legacy fandom. And in that case, what good does it do for Disney from an image-building/brand-awareness standpoint? Jezebel takes an even harsher view, saying: "There's something stomach-turning about the idea of Disney dangling a shiny shoe as a way to lure women into a movie about dudes playing video games." Plus, it's just opportunistic in a bad way, with the blog suggesting women can "smell a forced, non-organic, in-it-for-the-money marketing scheme a mile away. Manufactured cool is not cool." I'll be interested to see what the demand is for other Tron-linked products in the collection, like the $478 purse, the $495 earrings and the $2,600 necklace.

'Back to the Future' fans ready for crazy 25th anniversary party

By T.L. Stanley on Wed Oct 13 2010

In the fine tradition of Lebowski Fest but without the Kahlua cocktails, fans are planning a week's worth of activities around this year's 25th anniversary of Back to the Future. It coincides with Universal Pictures' launch of the iconic comedy on Blu-Ray and re-release in theaters for a limited run. And for an added publicity boost, the studio has debuted a little-seen clip (shown here) of the movie's original star, Eric Stoltz, whose comedic chops didn't quite cut it (lucky for Michael J. Fox!). Events during the "We're Going Back" week (Nov. 5-12) will include trips to filming locations in the L.A. area (scenic Puente Hills mall!), a DeLorean exhibit, '80s-themed costume contests, hoverboard rides, cast appearances and a recreation of the movie's "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance. Proceeds go to Team Fox for Parkinson's research. Fire up the time machine!



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