* The most extensive QSR tie-in of the year breaks this month at Tricon’s KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants, just nine days before the year’s most anticipated feature launch. Thanks to an exclusive US$2-billion agreement signed by Tricon parent PepsiCo in 1996 for the Star Wars franchise, the three chains will unite on May 12 to tie in to Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace. The highlight of the tie-in is a ‘Defeat the Dark Side’ game in which customers must collect game pieces from all three chains to be eligible for collect-and-win prizes topping out with US$1 million in cash.
* Twenty-eight different premiums will be offered across the three chains, with the toys packaged in Star Wars emblazoned boxes which can be stacked to create movie backdrops. The premiums will be free with kids meals or US$1.49 separately. Four cups shaped like Star Wars characters will be offered by each chain for US$2.49 with a large soft drink or US$3.99 separately, and KFC will top buckets of chicken with a Star Wars character flying disk for US$1.99 extra, or US$3.99 for the disk alone.
* TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Ray, California is supporting the promotion with print ads and at least six weeks of national TV advertising produced by Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic. KFC is reportedly so confident in the success of the promotion that it will not be offering summer meal discounts for the first time in a decade.
* In a burger/toy flanking action, Burger King is planning to lock into Warner Bros.’ Wild, Wild West and McDonald’s will be tying in with Disney’s Tarzan for their respective summer promotions.
* Pat the bunny, eat the lettuce. The Pat the Bunny early-childhood learning series turns 60 next year, and publisher Golden Books is celebrating with a home video launch, sweepstakes and unusual cross-promotion with Foxy brand lettuce. Beginning June 1, millions of heads of the leafy vegetable will be distributed to supermarkets across the U.S., each touting the video and sweepstakes on its packaging. Prizes include bundles of Pat the Bunny licensed merchandise, as well as plush, book sets, Touch and Play cards and Bunny Beanies. Each Pat the Bunny Sing With Me video will offer a free 8×10 photo from Lifetouch Portrait Studio, a US$1 savings coupon for the book series and sweepstakes details. Support includes on-pack stickers, a mall tour, a day care outreach program targeting 10,000 centers and print ads in Parents magazine.
* Pizza Hut is breaking the QSR tie-in mold by delivering premiums right to kids’ homes. The Pizza PlayStuff program, running throughout the year, offers US$0.99 toys with any pizza ordered for home delivery, take-out or eat-in, and avoids tying premiums to a kids meal. The program was launched after research showed that 80% of kids eat pizza at home rather than dining in, and that parents prefer ordering one pizza for the whole family. K’NEX toy premiums kicked off the program last month, with Star Wars, Totally Buggin’ and Tricky Treaters premiums following later this year.