A Marketing Masterpiece
by Joe Tracy, Publisher of Digital
Media FX Magazine
of the success of any movie is how well that movie is
marketed and how early the marketing begins in order to
movie marketing was a grade on a report card then DreamWorks
would easily receive an A+ for Shrek. If it was
rated on a scale of 1 to 10, DreamWorks would receive
Art of Marketing an Animated Movie
With Shrek, DreamWorks is bringing back the art
of marketing an animated movie. Here are a few primary
DreamWorks is courting online journalists. In March,
DreamWorks began inviting online journalists, and Webmasters
of fan sites, to private screenings of Shrek
where no more than 12 Internet journalists would view
Shrek then have a candid discussion with Jeffrey
Katzenberg following the viewing. This drummed up support
for Internet journalists to cover Shrek with
articles popping up left and right. Unfortunately, DreamWorks
somehow missed us (Digital Media FX) in the process
even though Digital Media FX is one of the largest award-winning
online publications for animation enthusiasts.
Mid-March, I flew down to L.A. to the DreamWorks invited
test screening of Shrek which is the best animated
feature I have ever seen," says Jawad Mir who creates
fan sites for DreamWorks pictures, including a Shrek
site. "DreamWorks' marketing machine
is truly brilliant. I have been covering their films
ever since they started back in 1997 and can easily
say that they only get better. And with Shrek
they went above and beyond as they invited online journalists,
including myself, to attend the test screening. A month
before they invited 12 selective online journalists,
including myself, for behind the scene look at PDI,
but due to plane problems, my L.A. correspondent couldn't
DreamWorks has been sending the press little trinkets
that peak interest and get a good laugh. For example,
early last month, DreamWorks sent to select press hundreds
of bottles of "Shrek Beauty Mud Mask Cream."
The bottle states, "Fresh From the Swamp of Shrek
- Use Nightly for Amazing Results." You open the
bottle and there is some sort of muddy green cream inside.
The top of the bottle simply says "In Theaters
May 18". Curious journalists who actually fully
opened the box would find a message, almost hidden,
attached to the inside of the box that says, "As
SHREK prepares for his big-screen debut on May 18th,
he wants to share some of the beauty secrets that have
made him the film industry's newest leading man. For
that flawless ogre complexion, Shrek recommends his
GREEN MUD SCRUB fresh from his very own swamp.
DreamWorks made sure that Shrek was the talk
of several different major tradeshows like the annual
Toy Fair (where it introduced several Shrek action
figures and showed off a movie trailer for the film)
and ShoWest, where screenings were held and press were
able to meet with Mike Myers standing by a life-size
Shrek figure. McFarlane Toys is offering dozens of Shrek
figures and play sets that come in different sizes with
different features (i.e. some include sound effects
and play action).
is the biggest marketing campaign ever undertaken by DreamWorks,"
Brad Globe, head of DreamWorks Consumer Products. It shows.
And I haven't even touched on the dozens of licensing
agreements, tie-ins, and the Shrek movie trailers, including
on in DreamWorks existence, the company appeared to be
anti-Internet. It wouldn't build its own Websites for
movies (companies like Amazon.com and Reel paid for that
honor) and it didn't use the Internet to its fullest potential.
DreamWorks is more than making up for lost time by now
setting the pace in both online and offline movie marketing.
DreamWorks is getting journalists excited about covering
its film and audiences excited about seeing it. That's
not an easy task.
Cream and Charity
One of the most successful marketing and public relations
events associated with Shrek was a DreamWorks partnership
with Baskin-Robbins to give away free scoops of Shrek
ice cream with donations being made to charity for each
scoop served. Supported with print and TV advertising,
the campaign was a great success on May 3 when millions
of scoops of Baskin-Robbins Shrek ice cream was
served to people waiting in long lines (going out the
door and down sidewalks in most cases) for their opportunity
to get something for free while helping charity at the
same time. It was also a great launch to Baskin-Robbins
new Shrek flavors of ice cream that will continue to be
served throughout Shrek's theatrical run. The event also
brought some great news publicity since it helped charity
in the process.
Publicity - The Release Date
Marketing goes beyond publicity. Part of marketing is
the proper selection of a release date and once again
DreamWorks came through with flying colors. Shrek will
open on May 18, 2001 with no competition (except for an
R rated film by Warner Bros. called Angel Eyes,
which is getting very little coverage). The Mummy Returns
will have already been in theaters for two weeks and Pearl
Harbor will still be a week away. This gives Shrek
an entire week of being almost all alone as the "must
see movie." When Pearl Harbor opens a week
later (with no competition), Shrek will also enjoy
the benefits of the Holiday weekend. It will have several
weeks of playtime before the main competition hits on
June 15 with Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Tomb
Raider, both which will take a chunk out of the Shrek
audience, but only after the film has been racking up
money in theaters for nearly a month.
take a look at the placement of Disney's animated Atlantis.
It is being released on the exact same day as Tomb
Raider, which will create a large audience divide,
cutting into its audience potential. A week later, Dr.
Doolittle 2 hits followed by A.I. the following
week and Cats & Dogs after that. Each week,
Atlantis will see fewer screens because of the
major summer competition and each week it will still be
playing against Tomb Raider.
From positioning to building an anticipation, DreamWorks
is slowly turning Shrek into an "event"
versus just a movie. And they did this with one strike
against them. That strike is studies which show that PG
animated films do much poorer than G rated animated films.
Shrek is rated PG. Recent animated movies like Titan
A.E. and The Iron Giant bombed with PG ratings.
what is the difference with Shrek? DreamWorks is
reaching beyond families with small children (or teenage
boys as was the case with Titan AE) through its
parody on fairy tales that everyone grew up with. Even
elderly people can enjoy Shrek along with their
younger neighbors. Shrek spans generations while
not hiding the fact that it is a comedy that is sometimes
Early Start is Vital
One of the keys to DreamWorks marketing success with Shrek
is that the company started early - years ago - mapping
out the marketing strategy and securing tie-ins. Contrast
this Warner Bros. which did virtually no marketing of
the highly acclaimed The Iron Giant animated movie
until it was too late. No anticipation had been built
and marketing efforts were thrown together too quickly.
a lot other movie studios can learn from DreamWorks marketing
of Shrek. Here's the short list:
The Internet is your friend. Fans are your allies. Use
this knowledge to your advantage.
The right release date can be the difference between a
$7 million opening or a $17 million opening.
Get press enthusiastic about your product. Peak their
interest and get them investigating.
Build anticipation early through teasers. Remember the
masterful job that Jurassic Park did in building
audience anticipation? It released little tidbits very
early on and slowly ramped its marketing effort up with
the anticipation level. This is genius movie marketing.
Shrek will likely succeed beyond many people's expectations
because of the marketing efforts that have built such
a strong interest that even many news publications are
calling Shrek "one of the most anticipated
movies of the summer." Kudos to DreamWorks for a
job well done.
Tracy is the publisher of Digital
Media FX Magazine and the author of the critically
acclaimed Web Marketing Applied book. His newest book,
Achieving Web Profits is being published in October, 2001.
Tracy is also a national speaker on the subject of marketing.
His next appearance is in August at the Fourth Annual
Pharmaceutical Marketing via the Internet Conference in
New Jersey where he will be a featured presenter.