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Universal scores big with American Pie promos

For the VHS rental and DVD sell-through release of the hit high school pic about adolescent males engaged in the rite of trying to score with the opposite sex, Universal has assembled a hefty marketing campaign that attempts to go where...
December 1, 1999

For the VHS rental and DVD sell-through release of the hit high school pic about adolescent males engaged in the rite of trying to score with the opposite sex, Universal has assembled a hefty marketing campaign that attempts to go where its teen target demo lives.

‘We’ve tried to reach out to teens by integrating our promotions into their lifestyle, because American Pie is a movie all about teen life,’ says Ken Graffeo, senior VP of marketing at Universal Studios Home Video.

Those efforts begin with the movie itself. For the VHS rental launch on December 21, Universal will issue two versions of the film-the R-rated version that appeared in theaters, as well as a more risqué version featuring scenes that the studio had to cut in order to get the film rated. The American Pie DVD (US$26.98 SRP) will contain these same scenes, in addition to outtakes, cast bios and interviews, music videos and soundtrack info.

The naughty footage, which includes more of the apple pie masturbation scene, should whet the appetite of teen consumers already familiar with the movie, says Graffeo. Many of the same scenes generated a lot of buzz on the Internet, where ‘someone’ (Universal PR reps insist they know not who) illegally posted them prior to the film’s release in theaters.

Serendipity? Whatever the case, the Internet figures prominently in Universal’s strategy for promoting the release of the VHS rental and DVD sell-through of the film. Case in point is an on-line contest Universal will be running in partnership with Web portal Lycos. Kicking off on December 11 and running until March 31, the aptly named ‘Get Lucky Sweepstakes’ gives teens a shot at winning free trips to High Cascade Snowboarding Camp at Mt. Hood and the Vans Triple Crown Snowboarding event in Lake Tahoe. The winner will also score free snowboarding garb and snowboards from GNV and Vans. Secondary prizes include: watches from G-Shoot; free Vans sneakers; and Internet-ready cameras from Logitech, the same model one of Pie’s main characters uses to document his (ahem) extracurricular activities in the film.

‘With the kinds of partners we’ve brought on-board, and with our use of the Internet, we’re playing right to our target,’ says Graffeo.

To keep teen minds focused on the contest, Universal will run print ads promoting ‘Get Lucky’ and American Pie in major teen consumer pubs leading up to the December 21 release, as well as radio and TV spots that will air December 22. Universal will also trailer contest spots on American Pie tapes and other participating Q4 titles, including The Red Violin, K-911, Mystery Men and Dudley Do-Right. On-line, Lycos will give coverage to the contest and the video/DVD releases on the contest’s home page (http://www.lycos.com/getlucky). All of the consumer creative will incorporate key pieces of dialogue from the film-like ‘There’s something about your first piece’ and ‘This holiday season, your customers will come and come again’-as a way of tweaking teen nostalgia, says Graffeo.

Universal will also try to use the American Pie release to turn today’s teens on to two of its classic teen titles from generations past, Animal House and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The studio is packaging all three movies together in Campus Comedy Classics, available for DVD only at US$84.98 SRP.

‘Repromoting Fast Times and Animal House with a more current title presents a tremendous upside for us-there’s still a big audience out there that hasn’t bought these movies,’ says Graffeo. The Universal team came up with the idea for the DVD package after noticing a jump in sales of Animal House and Fast Times videos, soon after American Pie was released at theaters.

Separate standees and P.O.S. materials for Campus and American Pie are available to ship to retailers early this month.

Graffeo says the studio will roll out Campus and American Pie to sell-through on VHS later in spring 2000.

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