Beyond the obvious added exposure in unique venues, the main incentive for distributors to ink promotional deals with outside companies remains money. In comparison to the cost of conventional modes of advertising, promotions are a bargain. Most promotional deals represent a straight exchange of brand equities.
Usually no money changes hands between a distributor and its partners, says Artisan Family Home Entertainment president Glen Ross. For example, with Annabelle’s Wish, Artisan’s 1997 Christmas direct-to-video title, Ross says the company assembled US$20 million worth of media exposure, and a full 80% of that was covered by promotional partners.
‘You could spend a fortune trying to reach all of your customers, but if you can identify the appropriate promotional partners and the markets they appeal to, everybody wins,’ Ross says. ‘Your partner gets to associate itself with a popular kids video, which gives their product some added value, and we get exposure.’
In the case of Disney, even the cost of producing QSR premiums for kidvid releases like Tarzan is absorbed by its partner, McDonald’s, says an industry source. ‘It’s all about who’s got more leverage and, let’s face it, if you’re Disney and you have a hot title, you’ve got more leverage,’ the source adds.
However, even the major studios only have that kind of pull with A-list fare, and the really successful titles don’t need all the bells and whistles. The key is to what degree the promotional partnerships are being leveraged to benefit the titles with less appeal. To a partner, there is no additional value to tying in with lesser-known titles, so there’s always a delicate balancing act between a studio trying to attract additional tie-ins for the B-list fare and a partner trying as hard as possible to resist.