An outdoor advertising campaign linking New Line Cinema’s upcoming feature film Lost in Space with Altoids, a popular peppermint product, provides a glimpse into what it takes to market an entertainment franchise these days.
The poster, showing a robot from the 1960s television series with the simple line ‘Danger, Will Robinson!’, has the same offbeat appeal that Altoids has used in its outdoor advertising. The original campaign, which includes a poster showing a heavily muscled man in a swimsuit with the line ‘Nice Altoids,’ has won advertising awards and many consumer converts. Altoids’ agency is Leo Burnett, Chicago.
Now, New Line is spinning off with a similar campaign that launched in some major markets last month, with plans to extend it across the U.S. throughout the year.
‘I think this is the first time that a promotional tie-in has been launched with a national ad campaign almost a year prior to the [April 1998] movie release,’ says Chris Russo, executive vice president of franchise programming and marketing with New Line Television.
The intent at this point is to begin word-of-mouth discussion, which will continue to be fueled throughout the year by a series of events and promotions, building towards something special on October 16, 1997 which, incidentally, is the date the futuristic Robinson family in the ’60s television series head into space.
‘The entertainment licensing business is extremely competitive and only a handful of events will make it as mega-events,’ says David Imhoff, senior vice president of worldwide licensing and merchandising at New Line Cinema. ‘We have to show our licensing partners that this is more than a single opportunity. It is a continuing event.’
This Christmas holiday season, New Line will introduce a line of adult-oriented products based on the television series that will tap into baby boomers’ nostalgia. Products will include such items as high-end hats and T-shirts, original model kits, key chains and a replica of the robot.
Trendmasters, the company that created toys for Independence Day and Mars Attacks, is the master toy licensee.
New Line has also signed up Harper Prism for a line of adult books and Scholastic Publishing is creating a digest novelization of Lost in Space, as well as spin-off novels for children.
The licensing program will be composed of distinct but complementary elements that tie into the overall theme of space travel and family relationships, says Imhoff.