Regardless of where the fifth installment of one of Fox’s most lucrative franchises ends up at the box office this weekend, Fox’s Ice Age: Collison Course opens with the largest promotional push for the IP in its 14-year history. While it’s not hard to bring in promo partners for a well-established franchise, it is interesting in that the studio was able to secure so many tie-ins from Corporate America for a property that is in its fifth time at bat and at a time when sequels are flaming out with growing regularity.
Collison Course has nearly double the number of partners of any previous Ice Age movie with 18, including Pepsi/Aquafina (marking the brand’s first movie tie-in), Wonderful Pistachios, Post Foods/Honey Bunches of Oats, Chuck E. Cheese, Sonicare for Kids, Home Depot, Save the Children, Hormel, Topps Candy, Menchie’s, Hotels.com, Wonder Bread, Visa Signature and Young Nails.
And every one of these partners is a first-timer with the IP. The studio claims $74M in marketing support, but that number is arbitrary. There are eight custom spots from Aquafina/Pepsi, Hormel, Save the Children and Chuck E. Cheese, to name a few. In paid media, which is a better measurement, the push is worth $35M, a very sizable amount — especially for a five-quel — and that amount of paid media surpasses other major tentpoles from competing studios. In fact, Universal/Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets and Disney/Pixar Finding Dory campaigns had less partner-paid media than Ice Age: Collision Course despite the other studios’ blustery talk.
We know that Ice Age also received an international push; the movie already opened overseas in most major markets but gets its South Korean bow this weekend. So far, the film has grossed more than $150M in 59 foreign territories. China doesn’t come until August 23. The international promo effort was led by Fox’s SVP International Promotions Anna Roca and her marketing team. That included Nestle Cereals which had $16M in paid media in 31 markets; local promotions from McDonald’s (about $6M) in Latin-American countries; 15 partners with 18 brands in Germany accounting for about $17M; and a big push in China (about $57M) which is still ongoing as it doesn’t release until Aug. 23 there. In France, the movie enjoyed $14M in paid media and got around French law that no new footage/characters are allowed on TV by using old footage for Oasis Fruit Juice and Ptit Louis Cheese, among other partners.
Now, let’s look at domestic.
“While Ice Age is an established brand, it was exciting and fun to be able to bring major corporations to the table for this installment. We have a whole new set of partners for this one,” said Zachary Eller, SVP Marketing Partnerships at 20th Century Fox, who started working with his marketing team about two years ago on a wide-reaching promo campaign.
With an animated property, a studio has about 18 to 24 months to pull together a campaign. The long-lead campaign for Ice Age began in March when Wonderful Pistachios started running its TV spots. Wonderful Pistachios is spending about $6M in what is the biggest campaign that company has had for a movie. They have a great creative team behind their ads as they have done such spots as the keyboard cat, Snoop Dogg and the “Gangnam Style” Super Bowl commerical. And the Ice Age spot is a cute one with the ad tag: “Scrat does it for the shell of it.”
“The whole idea with partnerships is to create a cultural event and to be in places where we can’t buy our way into, whether it’s a grocery store or a Menchie’s store, because we want as many touchpoints with the consumer as possible,” said Eller. “Media is so fragmented that you want to reach them wherever they may be going. They are going to Chuck E. Cheese to play with their kids, to the grocery store and, especially in the summer, going to get frozen yogurt. The landscape has changed so much, and having these partners help to make it an event. You need good partners to tell your message.”
The packaged-goods partners joined in with their movie tie-in campaigns at the end of May. Aquafina started in mid-June, and the rest of the partners will continue through July and August.
Aquafina’s custom TV spot is accompanied by a national consumer sweepstakes. That began on June 12 where consumers could enter for a chance to win a trip for two families of four to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida, where they will have an Astronaut Training Experience. That sweepstakes ends August 15. Aquafina is spending about $7M in media.
Post/Honey Bunches of Oats has committed about $5M with in-store collateral and Ice Age characters on over 10 million custom boxes. Family restaurant Chuck E. Cheese is spending roughly $4M with total in-store take-overs with Ice Age games, themes and birthday parties. Even Bazooka Candy is doing a television commercial (along with in-store displays and merchandising) tied to an online Ice Age-theme game, Candy Collision at Candymania.com that launched on July 1st. The partnership features Ice Age: Collision Course-themed packaging across some of Bazooka Candy Brands’ top-selling candies and branded merchandise featuring Manny, Sid, Scrat and the rest of the herd.
The L.A.-based Menchie’s, which is the largest self-serve frozen yogurt franchise company in the world, joined with Ice Age: Collision Course after having already established a relationship with Fox on the Chipmunks movie.
Like they did with a successful promotion on Sony’s Angry Birds Movie, Menchie’s developed specialized flavors (which takes several months to create), cups and spoons as well as in-store collateral, posters, coloring sheets and sticker sheets.
Menchie’s CEO Amit Kleinberger told Deadline, “This is about expanding our reach and brand awareness. With people seeing these shows and seeing our brand, it further solidifies our brand as a leader in the category.” He added that they are active on social media as well. “We do local media buys sporadically in our 540 locations. We are in 39 states and 14 countries.” The Ice Age campaign is a U.S.-only promotion.
And head’s up marketers: Menchie’s is looking to do more family tie-ins in entertainment, as well as product placement. They also had product placement in Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
So, regardless of what Ice Age: Collision Course does this weekend, the media and consumer reach with its new promotional partners has been impressive.