Over the past decade Twentieth Century Fox has found a windfall in spring. In partnership with Blue Sky Animation Studios their Ice Age franchise has almost cornered the market of the pre-summer blockbuster. The third installment of that film in 2009 brought in the expected $200 million in domestic box office, however many aa jaw was felled as it went on to rake in $700 million additionally worldwide. That trend is expected to continue with this new animated animal release. The anticipation is evident, and I mean beyond the fact that Rio barely had any exposure without the inclusion of the graphics from that dinosaur series to remind audiences of the similarity.
The hype began all the way back to last November, when a teaser poster of the main character adorned in turkey garb was released weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday. It was the start of a monumental push. Rio is being released in 17 international territories and to go along with that wide rollout over 80 promotional partnerships have been forged, promising to provide up to $100 million is additional marketing for the title.
This huge team involves some first-time companies which have not previously entered the cinematic tie-in game, and their strained efforts reveal their inexperience. One of the newcomers is Overstock.com, which is promoting the film on their website as they change over to a new name, O.co. They will offer a sweepstakes to win a trip to Brazil, as well as displaying Rio-themed boutiques. The way this works, they display a variety of random products and declare they are grouped by character. You scroll over a picture of the product to learn why a macaw thinks a GPS is really swell, or why a pair of headphones is the favorite of a bulldog.
Another curiosity is from Benjamin Moore paints. Not an expected corporation you might consider for such an enterprise and they too seem to be feeling their way into the high-stakes arena of movie promotion. Their involvement here is a contest where the company presented new tints and fans would come up with names for the shades. This is puzzling, because either they are implying that Blue Sky discovered some new colors, or the paint company is tacitly admitting there are hues that they had yet to market by this time.
McDonalds will of course be the go-to entity to bring the news of the film to kids into 110 sales territories. Some of the chain locations will have an enormous beach ball at some of the buildings, with the movie’s graphics – said to be a first for the fast-food giant. Among the touts and toys you might see their Happy Meal box has a portion that resembles a bushel of fruit. The instructions implore kids to wear the container in the same fashion as the film’s bulldog, Luiz, who is shown in scenes with a fruit headdress. Parents I’m sure will thrill at the sight of their kids jamming a box onto their head that is laden with burger grease and French-fry oil.
The other major promotional partner in the states is Chiquita Brands. Among their numerous efforts the company will be using one of its iconic trademarks to get the message out. Countless bananas will be sporting stickers with not only the famed Chiquita logo but also graphics and characters from the film.
The conglomerate has such an extensive stake that they have an internet presence rivaling that of the movie itself, with multiple pages of activities, contests and a smattering of video games. For those with a minor addiction to Bejeweled you may enjoy the fruit purveyor’s version – given you are not put off with the colorful gems having been replaced with bagged apple slices and avacados instead.
Video games are in fact a major component to selling this film, with a number of different digital activities offered up. The biggest had to come in January, when it was announced that the phone-app game – Angry Birds – would be releasing a Rio-centric version of the game, featuring the feathered characters from the film. It was said to be a historical moment when they ran an ad during this year’s Super Bowl that became the first time an imbed code was featured in a commercial. (Goose-bumps!) When the game was released last month the addictive platform managed a highly impressive figure: Ten Million downloads of Angry Birds: Rio occurred in just ten days.
Another popular distraction was the cross-over with Farmville. A farm that is themed to the film can be visited and new game-specific objects can be obtained. Far be it from me to question the sense in this, since the salty beach setting does not exactly appear to be conducive to successful farming, unless you are trying to bring about a bumper crop of coconuts.
One other attempt at digital ingratiation comes courtesy of Nestle Cereals, which has an in-box/on-box promotion giving kids the chance to play an augmented-reality game on their web-camera-outfitted computer. A card is removed from the box and fitted onto the hand, then the image is used on a promotional website where you may then manipulate the blue parrot Blu through a series of activities. Nestle is offering this on 26 million cereal boxes sold in over 50 countries. Curiously, the U.S. is not among those countries.
This is a curious licensing trend with this motion picture, as a number of American multi-nationals have marketing arrangements in other countries that are not available here at home. Duracell Batteries, The Gap, and others have promos and ticket giveaways in Europe and abroad. The biggest surprise here involves one of the biggest partnerships.
Nabisco foods has a number of platforms where they will promote the title, including commercials and packaging of a number of their products displaying the movie’s graphics. They have even taken the large step of creating a character-specific version of their famed Oreo cookie. This one has the cream filling colored the same shade of blue as the birds, and Blu also appears on the top of the sandwich. However you cannot savor the treat as it is only being sold in South American countries.
On second thought, this may be for the better. Looking over that result, the color scheme of the product closely resembles a contusion.