A cross-promotion is the joining of complementary entities to promote one another’s product or service to each other’s audiences. One of the most cost-effective ways for a brand to amplify its participation in a film or TV show is by teaming up with that production. The most cited example of cross promotion might be James Bond film franchise. Since several cross promotions are integrated into each film, we’ll just focus on one… okay, maybe two.
Let’s start with a question many are likely to answer incompletely; what alcoholic beverages did Mr. Bond drink during SkyFall? If you said a vodka martini, shaken not stirred… you’re right! But the question was a plural and there was another drink; Heineken. That’s right, James Bond ordered a Heineken, one assumes specifically not shaken or stirred. This expansion of his drinking preferences came courtesy of a 45 million dollar cross promotion between the production and the brand. What makes this a cross promotion and not simply a fee-based brand integration is that the $45 million was not provided in the form of a cash payment. To get Bond to flash his license to swill, the Dutch beer provided $45 million in promotional support. Now, bear in mind, promotional expenses are a mandatory component of a film’s budget, so the deal offset exactly that much from the budget. For Heineken, this meant simply utilizing their previously established advertising budget. The result? Heineken received a press-generating hit in a high-quality, tentpole film and SkyFall enjoyed millions in promotion as part of a truly spectacular international TV commercial. This example is on a grander scale than most tie-ins, but it provides a clear example of the method.
Of course, most productions are not as high profile as a Bond film and not all products or services are as internationally popular or have pockets as deep as Heineken’s, but the method scales up and down easily.
One example of a mid-sized promotion HERO guided from concept to completion tied the Isuzu Axiom to the film Spy Kids. Then HERO client American Isuzu Motors was interested in a big launch for their futuristically designed new SUV, the Axiom. By utilizing a prototype for the production, both the film and the Axiom could be released at the same time and cross-promoted. The result was an awesome, albeit fictionalized Axiom that contained myriad Bond-like gadgets and could even submerge like a submarine. When the film premiered at Disney’s California Adventure, the Axioms were lined up outside the theater on Hollywood St.
But sometimes more than two can tango in cross-promotional tie-ins. By that time the hit film lit up the screen, additional cross promotions featuring the now labeled, “Spy Car” and Spy Kids had been set up with McDonalds, Radisson Hotels and Radio Shack. The entire undertaking was a lovefest of brands cross associating and enjoying the mass attention they would bring one another.
Today, social media presents one of the most accessible venues for cross promotion. If, let’s say, a new Netflix show is hungry for publicity and a brand that appeals to the correct demographics and has a huge social media following is appropriate for onscreen use, then there may be a perfect marriage. In this case, the brand is featured in the show, then supports their appearance by “tagging” (naming the show) in their various posts and advertisements. The brand enjoys the cache that an association with a filmed production brings and the show is introduced to the brand’s large following.
The creative utilization of HERO clients’ marketing resources, fused with virtually all productions’ needs for wide promotion, provides an ideal platform for synergistic, win-win relationships.