Moving into its fourth year, children’s film distributor and marketing company Kidtoon Films is set to expand its in-theater program yet again. By the end of this month, the company should be staging its weekend screenings of kid flicks culled largely from branded DTV titles in more than 200 cinemas across the US. And while it’s been working with entertainment partners such as Hasbro and American Greetings on in-theater marketing from the get-go, Kidtoon is now on the hunt for national and regional third-party promo partners from the restaurant, automotive and retail world.
The company dipped its toe into third-party promo waters this past summer for the August screening of American Greetings’ Care Bears: Oopsy Does It! Kidtoon hooked up with US ice cream parlor chain Cold Stone Creamery and got window clings and table tents advertising the film’s launch into stores located in towns on the program’s circuit. In return, Cold Stone put signage and pre-show advertising in the theaters (through Kidtoon sister co PreFlix) to drive moms and kids back to its stores. Cold Stone estimates the promo generated 140,000 impressions in its participating stores.
To lead the current promo charge, Kidtoon COO Michele Martell has brought on Jill Newhouse Calcaterra as a marketing consultant. Retail is a focus for Calcaterra, and she envisions striking deals with kids retailers and family-friendly mall chains. Some of her plans include getting retailers to insert Kidtoon flyers into customers’ bags and then handing coupons for that retailer out at the theaters. And on a grander scale, she’s contemplating holding live events or fashion shows in the theaters prior to the films’ 10 a.m. Saturday showtime.
At press time, Calcaterra had just landed her first deal with My Gym kids fitness centers. Details are still being hammered out, but she says it’s going to be a full-out cross-promo effort between My Gym’s 170 US locations and participating Kidtoon theaters; My Gym will provide its customers with handouts like Kidtoon-branded toys and in-theater discounts in exchange for getting its exercise interstitials on the big screen.
In terms of deal structure, Kidtoon usually charges content owners a distribution fee, as the in-theater screenings really function as a marketing tool. Similarly, third-party partners are charged a fee for what is essentially a turnkey promotion. Kidtoon takes complete care of their execution.
As for the potential in-theater audience, Martell estimates that the weekend program was seeing foot traffic of roughly 240,000 kids and parents per month across 150 locations. That number continues to rise with new theaters joining the network monthly as they convert to digital screening tech (all Kidtoon content is delivered digitally, no film involved).