As DreamWorks Pictures prepares to release its biggest kids film yet, Small Soldiers, next month, the studio is already building excitement among kids on the movie’s Web site (http://freezone.com/small-soldiers).
The site’s creator is Curiocity’s FreeZone, which is also the name of an on-line area aimed at kids age eight to 12 that is one of a Curiocity family of products from Thomson Target Media. Late last year, DreamWorks and FreeZone teamed up in an exclusive on-line promotional partnership for the kid-targeted films Mouse Hunt, Paulie and Small Soldiers.
For DreamWorks, ‘the main goal [of the on-line promotions] is to create more awareness and a deeper awareness of the film,’ says Michael Vollman, who oversees field marketing, promotions and the Internet at DreamWorks Pictures.
The process of developing content to achieve this goal begins with conceiving ideas, then drawing upon five ‘guiding beliefs,’ says Trish Lindsay, executive director of Curiocity. These beliefs, which represent children’s needs that the FreeZone team aspires to address with content, consist of acceptance, responsibility, recognition, skill development and kids’ interests.
The next step is to tap into the five different stages of participation. Topping the list is one-to-one participation, which includes activities such as chat. The other stages are: push participation, in which kids produce content, for example, by designing a Web site; active participation, in which kids are involved but do not dictate the activities, such as playing games; pull participation, in which kids request information, such as using a search engine; and passive participation, such as watching film clips. ‘What we know works is the combination of those five types of participation in relationship to each other,’ says Lindsay.
The end result for Small Soldiers is a site that will be divided into three phases based on the life cycle of the film, each with different goals for DreamWorks and activities for kids. In the teaser phase before the film’s opening, the goal is to raise awareness in order to drive traffic into theaters. The site is designed as a corporate site for Globotech, a fictional company in the film, to launch its Small Soldiers action figures. During the film’s opening and peak, the site will become a more traditional movie site, with information about the movie and the toys, as well as opportunities to chat with the film’s stars. The aim during this phase is to benefit the film’s promotional partners, including Burger King. The final phase will extend to the film’s undetermined video release date and the holiday season, and will be positioned to benefit the licensing partners. Activities will include writing storylines. Hasbro has also signed on to sponsor an exclusive ‘Create Your Own Toy Competition.’
While the Mouse Hunt site delivered 610,000 page views over a three-week period, Lindsay expects the Small Soldiers site to attract a much higher number because DreamWorks is promoting the Web site address more heavily off-line, which plays a large part in ensuring the success of an on-line promotion.
The name of Purple Moon’s first sports series for girls, listed in KidScreen’s May 1998 issue (‘Kids software: Maturing into a mass market,’ page 59) as The Starlites Kick-Off Challenge, has been changed to Starfire Soccer Series. The first title will be Starfire Soccer Challenge.