Superman Sets Record for Most Promotional Tie-ins, Frowns
Man of Steel came out last Friday, and while I haven't seen the film yet, I'm pretty sure it represents the frowniest Superman ever. Every trailer, poster and print ad shows Henry Cavill sternly moping into the camera. I think I even heard him frown in a radio spot. Dude is seriously frowning all the time.
Having the most glum Superman ever isn't the only title snagged by Man of Steel, and in fact, that dour face isn't the record-breaker you'll see most often in the film. That honor would fall to Sears, Carl's Jr., Nokia and the 97 other corporate sponsors who paid to get placement in one of this summers most-anticipated movies. According to Ad Age, Zach Snyder's take on Superman has the most product placements ever, with more than 100 partners appearing throughout the film.
As a frame of reference, the previous titleholder for most product placements was The Lorax, which is reported to have had 70 separate company tie-ins, or one for every ticket sold. Put another way, "Man of Steel" cost $255 million to make, and made $160 million from its promotional partners—the film made back 60 percent of its budget before a single ticket was sold. Now do you see why I'm shocked that Supes looks so grumpy?
There's an important message here, and it's not that the new Super Bacon Cheeseburger from Carl's Jr. has "six full bacon strips woven together into a crispy bacon nest."* Product placements are the Hollywood cousin of promotional products, serving the same purpose on the big screen that our industry does in homes and offices across the country. That more companies than ever are willing to spend more money than ever on advertising means there are more opportunities for distributors to do what they do best.
Earlier this week, David Schaaf, marketing communications coordinator for Newton Manufacturing, posted a blog on this same topic. In it, he discussed how distributors can use the same tactics as the corporate film sponsors on a smaller scale. Encourage your customers to sponsor local events, such as races, music festivals or town fairs, and get their name in the background of real life. If a client asks if it's effective, just point to that Coca-cola banner in the background of Man of Steel and ask if they think it's working.
As David also points out, promotional items have one leg up on traditional product placement. Most sponsors of local events and the corporate partners of Hollywood are forgotten once the customer goes home, but the smart marketer who give them an imprinted T-shirt or tumbler ensure that the end-user will be reminded again and again.
Give David's post a read, go see Man of Steel, and let me know what kind of creative marketing ideas it inspires that will make you the new Superman for your clients. Just don't frown as much. You'll get wrinkles.
*Ed. Note: This is incredibly important and I want to make my home in that nest.