Teamwork doesn’t always pave the easiest road to success, but partnering a troupe of different brands for a high-profile marketing stunt can be efficient—and cost effective. That’s what Dreamworks did to distribute the 125 million pairs of glasses necessary for a 3D Super Bowl event to promote its new film, Monsters Vs. Aliens, this Sunday—while scratching the backs of partners like PepsiCo, Intel, and NBC.
The project hinges on the first-ever 3D commercial, a participatory film trailer during the game’s broadcast. “We wanted to do a stunt 90 days before the opening of the movie,” said Dreamworks head of marketing and consumer products Anne Globe, “and then we had the chance to use the biggest media event in the world.”
Dreamworks had already partnered with Intel to develop the technology for the 3D film, so enlisting the company to produce the glasses was a no-brainer, but finding the partner to distribute the glasses took a bit more thought.
“We have been working with Pepsi on various films throughout the years, and they have always been a strong collaborator,” said Globe. “They were already planning to have their Super Bowl program featured at retail, so they took the lead on distribution.”
More than 125 million pairs of glasses proved far too great a number to consider delivering to consumers by hand, so PepsiCo made the decision to reach the masses through 25,000 SoBe Lifewater displays in grocery stores and other retailers across the country. Unmanned pop-up stations were a cost effective way to disseminate the product, and in exchange for their role in the plan, Dreamworks and Intel lent their 3D technology to PepsiCo for one of SoBe’s Super Bowl commercials.
Still, how to alert consumers to the stunt in the weeks before remained a question, so Dreamworks approached Super Bowl 2009 broadcaster NBC with a plan to, in essence, advertise its advertisement.
“There’s a significant price tag that comes along with the Super Bowl ad, so you look for ways to make it work for both parties,” said NBC Universal Television Group chief marketing officer and president of the NBC Agency John Miller. “Wherever we have these displays, there needs to be a huge amount of foot traffic. And you might think 25,000 retailers is a lot, but it's a big country, so it's been our job to let people know where to find them.”
NBC alerted consumers with a series of well-placed commercials describing the promotion. As for extending the benefits past the broadcast of the game, Dreamworks offered NBC the same thing it gave PepsiCo—an opportunity to use the 3D glasses and technology for its own programming. The network hopes to lure the inevitable glut of football fans to watch the 3D broadcast of series Chuck the next night.
The economy has already forced plenty of brands (like Playboy) to pull out of Super Bowl related parties and stunts, but Miller said the recession wasn't a factor in his plans. “When we began this ride last year, we weren't quite in as bad of a place,” he said, noting that NBC sold 95 percent of ads—including the Super Bowl’s—in the 2008 upfront marketplace. The big challenge will face CBS, which will have to start its marketing plan for the 2010 Super Bowl in the coming months.