Big brand marketing and summer blockbuster movies have gone hand-in-hand for years now from Ray-Ban sunglasses in Men In Black to Disney characters printed on cereal boxes -- but this season feels different. Brand and movie partnership marketing seems more integrated than ever before.
Such partnerships have gone way beyond using products as props or including film characters on packaging. This summer, movies and the businesses they partner with have become inextricably linked, engaging the consumer in breakthrough ways. In many cases, brands are taking on the personalities of the movies, actually enacting the ethos of the films in their marketing and product experiences. At the same time, brands are being woven into scripts as vital characters of their own.
Any business of any size can take a lesson here in how to engage consumers through partnership marketing. Regardless of your brand, joining forces with a partner in your marketing efforts can be a powerful way to get the word out about your business and attract new customers.
Here are three summer blockbuster movies that have incorporated a three-dimensional approach to brand partnerships, using different marketing vehicles, where the movie, the brand and the consumer all come out winners:
Monster University and Swiffer. In this Pixar film, which comes out in 3D on June 21, the characters actually demonstrate how the house cleaning product works, referring to its "monster job of cleaning." This messaging is echoed in Swiffer commercials that feature the movie's characters making a big mess and cleaning it up with the tagline -- "Swiffer gives cleaning a monstrous new meaning." The result is a marketing campaign that seamlessly combines the product and characters in consumers' minds.
Your strategy: Don’t be afraid to show a little personality in your marketing. It'll help you break through the clutter of marketing messages that your customers receive on a daily basis. When working with a partner, try to leverage both personalities for an amplified effect. But always make sure you tie it back to your brand's benefits.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Kiehl's. While this movie isn't coming out in theaters until April 2014, Marvel Comics, which is putting out the film with Disney, has already started their unconventional marketing strategy with the skin and hair care brand, Kiehl's. Not only are Kiehl's retail stores decorated with signage and product displays featuring the characters, Marvel recently came out with a custom-made Captain America comic book specifically set inside a Kiehl's shop. The comic book recently ran as an insert in the Wall Street Journal and was offered to customers when they made a purchase in-store or online.
Your strategy: Think about ways you and your partner can build hype around your partnership. Can you create unique stand-alone products that add value to your consumer? You want to surprise and delight customers, planning well in advance to build suspense.
Iron Man 3 and Audi. Here's another superhero film that came out in May that takes an innovative approach to brand partnerships. Public relations and product integration hit all new heights in this sequel, where there was a lot of hype in the entertainment and pop culture press about which car the film's hero, Tony Stark would be driving.
The partnership allowed Audi to align its new R8 model with the film's protagonist, who adapts his superpowers to the changing world around him. The movie's star, Robert Downey Jr. showed up at the U.S. premier in Los Angeles behind the wheel of the same red 2014 Audi R8 Spyder that he drove in the film, taking product placement from the screen to the real-world.
Your strategy: When entering into partnership marketing, think hard about how you can create ways for the two brands to not only co-exist in the minds of your customers, but to enhance one another. What does your partner bring to the table that you need more of and conversely, what can you offer them?
While you might not have a blockbuster movie-bound brand, the lesson here is that really good partner marketing is always three-dimensional, offering consumers an experience neither partner could deliver alone.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Jim Joseph is the North American president of New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe, part of the media company WPP Group PLC. He is the author of three books, including the latest, The Personal Experience Effect (Happy About 2013). Joseph also teaches marketing at New York University and blogs at JimJosephExp.com.