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The Biz: Would You Believe? Subway, Sierra Mist, A-B To Get Smart


April 28, 2008


MAXWELL SMART may be fighting Kaos for world domination, but it's Hollywood studios that will be locked in a battle for moviegoers' attention during the upcoming summer season.

Warner Bros. will be squarely in the middle of the fray, releasing the film version of the cheeky '60s hit TV show Get Smart on June 20. The promotions team has enlisted PepsiCo's Sierra Mist, Subway, Swiss Army, Vespa, QVC and Anheuser-Busch to help the comedy win the box office war.

"We went for quality as opposed to quantity," said Gene Garlock, the studio's new svp-worldwide promotions. "The object is to build buzz and use other people's money to help supplement and boost our own marketing budget."

The action comedy, starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, launches into a season packed with tentpoles and event films like Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Incredible Hulk, which, collectively, have dozens of corporate partners like Burger King, Mars, 7-Eleven, Audi and LG Mobile. Warner Bros.' own Speed Racer has McDonald's, General Mills, Target, Esurance and Mattel, among others.

Opening opposite Get Smart is the buzzed about Mike Myers comedy, The Love Guru. But unlike an earlier Myers franchise, Austin Powers, Get Smart is not a parody, but is intended to be an homage to the Cold War-set TV show, with Bill Murray playing Agent 13, the spy from the series who pops up in the most unlikely places. Hathaway has said in interviews that filmmakers were shooting for a Bourne Identity with some goofball elements.

Sierra Mist, playing off the secret agent theme, plans a limited time custom flavor called "Undercover Orange." The teen- and young adult-targeted product is clear, like water, but tastes like soda.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will star in the TV spots as his character, Agent 23. A retro-cool silhouette of the movie's stars will appear on the drink labels and packaging. The Pepsi brand has created extensive in-store materials and spy-centric consumer offers around the theme.

Subway has sly but pivotal product placement in the film as Smart sheds some pounds to become a superspy. One of his tools: Subway sandwiches. The chain will use, "Get Smart, Eat Fresh," as the promo tagline. "It's the perfect extension of our message," said Tony Pace, CMO. "His weight loss is part of the backstory, and that worked out very well for us."

TV ads will feature clips and custom foot-age that point to secret codes on drink cups, an online game and a sweeps that gives away Smart's convertible Sunbeam Tiger.

Swiss Army has a film cameo, with Carell's Agent 86 getting a tricked-out flame-throwing Swiss Army knife as an essential gadget on his first mission. Swiss Army will promote the movie at various retailers and in print. Anheuser-Busch is backing screenings of the movie and Vespa will launch a consumer contest.

Worldwide, there are some 30 partners for the comedy, which has traction from its TV history in some English-speaking territories but was pitched by the studio as a stand-alone action feature in places where it's not entrenched.

The studio recently launched a YouTube promotion centered on the iconic, now ironic, shoe phone, dubbed "Shoe Phones Across America." People can submit videos of them using a shoe as a phone, with their own dialogue or some from the old TV series. Funniest entry gets to go to the Hollywood premiere.


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