Fans and marketers alike seemed to have been whipped into a frenzy in anticipation of the May 22 opening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise comes to the big screen nearly two decades after the third, but boasting the ingredients of a summer blockbuster:
•A prime spot on the film release calendar on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend.
•Lots of summer movie action, from car chases to Indiana Jones wielding his trademark bullwhip.
•The creativity again of famous filmmakers George Lucas as executive producer and a writer, and Steven Spielberg as director.
•Harrison Ford back in the role of adventurer/archaeologist Indiana Jones. Spanning the age range, however, co-star Shia LaBeouf was 2 years old when the third Indy film opened in 1989.
Last month, an online poll of more than 5,000 users of movie ticket-selling site Fandango.com, voted Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as the summer's "most anticipated" movie. The fact that much of the plot has been kept under wraps has further piqued consumer interest.
Hoping that the big-budget release from Paramount Pictures would have fans jonesing for all things Jones, brands including M&M's, Dr Pepper, Expedia, Burger King and Kraft Lunchables have launched big-budget marketing tie-ins.
"We believe this is going to be the biggest movie of the summer," says Jaxie Alt, Dr Pepper brand marketing director. "We wanted to figure out a way to be a part of it."
Later this month, Dr Pepper, will run Web, print and TV ads that promote its link with the movie. Cans and bottles will have pictures of Indiana Jones. And buyers of 23 cans will get a lot more of a "pepper-upper" (as the Dr has billed itself) than they expected: an iPod Nano preloaded with the movie franchise's musical theme.
Marketers signing up for the 2008 movie say Indy still resonates with younger consumers, thanks to cable airings and DVDs.
"There's such a franchise and history with this movie, so even if you're in the younger demographic, you've heard of it," Alt says.
The past three movies — 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Cru-sade— won seven Oscars in total and reaped nearly $1.2 billion in worldwide box office.
Some promotional partners:
• M&M's. The Mars Snackfood US brand has launched limited-edition M&M's Mint Crisp Chocolate Candies. The candies, which are made with semisweet chocolate and have a crispy rice center, are white and green to reflect the "jungle feel" of the movie, says Michele Kessler, Mars marketing vice president.
TV ads show M&M's spokescharacters swinging from ropes and plunging down a cavern. Print ads feature a new M&M's character who resembles Indiana Jones.
Creating him actually took a lot of work, says Susan Credle, executive creative director at M&M's ad agency BBDO New York. "If you go too far, it doesn't look like an M&M — but if you don't go far enough, it doesn't look like Indiana Jones."
• Lunchables Maxed Out. The Kraft lunch line aimed at tweens will feature images of Indiana Jones, as well as LaBeouf's Mutt Williams character, on 15 million packages.
Darin Dugan, Lunchables marketing director, says 21-year-old LaBeouf, who also starred in Transformers, will appeal to tweens and "is a very strong emerging talent."
Working with travel site Expedia, Kraft will sponsor a giveaway of 10 adventure trips to the Southwest and Mexico.
• Burger King. Starting May 12, BK will offer an Indy Whopper with two burger patties, spicy sauce, bacon and pepper-jack cheese. It's an "adventurous" concoction Indy would favor, says Brian Gies, vice president of marketing.
Stores already have posters of BK's King character dressed as Indiana Jones, including a leather jacket, fedora and whip.
"It's a powerful movie franchise," Gies says. "There's a legion of fans out there for Indiana Jones."
• Dr Pepper. As part of a "Passport to Explore" sweepstakes, the Cadbury Schweppes brand will offer prizes such as movie tickets, Indy T-shirts and, with partner Expedia, Indy-themed vacations that include airfare and hotel plus activities for destinations in Egypt, India, Jordan and Peru.
"We have lined up different adventures such as horseback riding and mountain climbing and things that Indy himself would do," Alt says.
• Expedia. In addition to working with Dr Pepper and Lunchables to develop their cross-promotional trip giveaways, the travel website also will conduct its own Indiana Jones-theme sweepstakes with adventure trips as prizes. Expedia also will begin selling Indiana Jones-inspired adventure travel packages on Thursday.
Also new and notable:
Carrie carries water for Glacéau.
Carrie Underwood, who won the American Idol contest in season four, has joined season one winner Kelly Clarkson in the trickle of American Idol winners into endorsements for Vitaminwater, made by Glacéau, which is owned by major Idol sponsor Coca-Cola.
Underwood's debut in a Vitaminwater ad this summer will be a big-screen production, but it won't be a solo performance.
Earlier this month, she joined fellow Glacéau endorsers rapper 50 Cent, baseball pro David Ortiz and basketball phenomenon Dwight Howard to film Vitaminwater's first ad for movie theaters. The celebrities appear as cosmonauts being trained by an inept Russian supervisor. The humorous spot will run on more than 33,000 screens in 5,000 theaters.
Tell them your favorite TV ad
The One Club, a non-profit group that promotes creativity in advertising, wants real people to weigh in with their picks for 2007's best TV ads. For the upcoming annual One Show awards ceremony, a judging panel of 28 ad industry pros will select a best ad from the 23,825 global entries. But the group also wants consumer votes for its "People's Choice" award.
One Club has posted 100 ads at oneshow.tv that were among the judges' favorites and is asking visitors to vote for the best. The "People's Choice" pick, as well as the pro judges' top selection, will be announced May 7.
A splashy ad
Sometimes, there's nothing like a product demonstration to convince a skeptical consumer that a product actually works. Think of the famous Master Lock ads showing the strength of locks by shooting them with real bullets.
Now comes a TV spot from Thompson's Water Seal showing how the wood protector helps a deck stand up to torrential winds and water. The aptly named Thompson-treated Hurricane Deck is shown 15 feet from the base of Niagara Falls and being pummeled by 75,000 gallons of water per second. Talk about a gushing endorsement.
Rosie to the rescue
What happens when George Jetson gets heartburn? No, he doesn't kick the family dog, Astro.
He takes Tums QuikPak, a new, instant-dissolving powder antacid from GlaxoSmithKline in a packet about half as long and twice as wide as Pixy Stix.
Launching today are ads featuring the 1960s cartoon show star — along with his wife, Jane, and family maid Rosie the robot. In one, George screams for Jane after eating a chili dog with the works. But it's Rosie who quickly brings him relief: Tums QuikPak.
The ad team wonders if George's longtime, tyrannical boss in the show, Cosmo Spacely, could have been tamed with Tums.