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Marketers whip up a storm of Indiana Jones tie-ins


Laura Petrecca

USA Today
April 21, 2008

Fans and marketers alike seemed to have been whipped into a frenzy in anticipation of the May 22 opening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

The fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise comes to the big screen nearly two decades after the third, but boasting the ingredients of a summer blockbuster:

•A prime spot on the film release calendar on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend.

•Lots of summer movie action, from car chases to Indiana Jones wielding his trademark bullwhip.

•The creativity again of famous filmmakers George Lucas as executive producer and a writer, and Steven Spielberg as director.

•Harrison Ford back in the role of adventurer/archaeologist Indiana Jones. Spanning the age range, however, co-star Shia LaBeouf was 2 years old when the third Indy film opened in 1989.

Last month, an online poll of more than 5,000 users of movie ticket-selling site, voted Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as the summer's "most anticipated" movie. The fact that much of the plot has been kept under wraps has further piqued consumer interest.

Hoping that the big-budget release from Paramount Pictures would have fans jonesing for all things Jones, brands including M&M's, Dr Pepper, Expedia, Burger King and Kraft Lunchables have launched big-budget marketing tie-ins.

"We believe this is going to be the biggest movie of the summer," says Jaxie Alt, Dr Pepper brand marketing director. "We wanted to figure out a way to be a part of it."

Later this month, Dr Pepper, will run Web, print and TV ads that promote its link with the movie. Cans and bottles will have pictures of Indiana Jones. And buyers of 23 cans will get a lot more of a "pepper-upper" (as the Dr has billed itself) than they expected: an iPod Nano preloaded with the movie franchise's musical theme.

Marketers signing up for the 2008 movie say Indy still resonates with younger consumers, thanks to cable airings and DVDs.

"There's such a franchise and history with this movie, so even if you're in the younger demographic, you've heard of it," Alt says.

The past three movies — 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Cru-sade— won seven Oscars in total and reaped nearly $1.2 billion in worldwide box office.

Some promotional partners:

• M&M's. The Mars Snackfood US brand has launched limited-edition M&M's Mint Crisp Chocolate Candies. The candies, which are made with semisweet chocolate and have a crispy rice center, are white and green to reflect the "jungle feel" of the movie, says Michele Kessler, Mars marketing vice president.

TV ads show M&M's spokescharacters swinging from ropes and plunging down a cavern. Print ads feature a new M&M's character who resembles Indiana Jones.

Creating him actually took a lot of work, says Susan Credle, executive creative director at M&M's ad agency BBDO New York. "If you go too far, it doesn't look like an M&M — but if you don't go far enough, it doesn't look like Indiana Jones."

• Lunchables Maxed Out. The Kraft lunch line aimed at tweens will feature images of Indiana Jones, as well as LaBeouf's Mutt Williams character, on 15 million packages.

Darin Dugan, Lunchables marketing director, says 21-year-old LaBeouf, who also starred in Transformers, will appeal to tweens and "is a very strong emerging talent."

Working with travel site Expedia, Kraft will sponsor a giveaway of 10 adventure trips to the Southwest and Mexico.

• Burger King. Starting May 12, BK will offer an Indy Whopper with two burger patties, spicy sauce, bacon and pepper-jack cheese. It's an "adventurous" concoction Indy would favor, says Brian Gies, vice president of marketing.

Stores already have posters of BK's King character dressed as Indiana Jones, including a leather jacket, fedora and whip.

"It's a powerful movie franchise," Gies says. "There's a legion of fans out there for Indiana Jones."

• Dr Pepper. As part of a "Passport to Explore" sweepstakes, the Cadbury Schweppes brand will offer prizes such as movie tickets, Indy T-shirts and, with partner Expedia, Indy-themed vacations that include airfare and hotel plus activities for destinations in Egypt, India, Jordan and Peru.

"We have lined up different adventures such as horseback riding and mountain climbing and things that Indy himself would do," Alt says.

• Expedia. In addition to working with Dr Pepper and Lunchables to develop their cross-promotional trip giveaways, the travel website also will conduct its own Indiana Jones-theme sweepstakes with adventure trips as prizes. Expedia also will begin selling Indiana Jones-inspired adventure travel packages on Thursday.


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