EXCLUSIVE: Despite the severe ratcheting down of movie theaters during the pandemic in recent weeks, Universal is standing strong with a robust global promotional campaign behind their DreamWorks Animation sequel The Croods: A New Age which opens today at 2,211 theaters.
While the marketing spend on domestic wide releases has been in the single digit range recently, especially with cinemas in ad hubs like New York City and Los Angeles still closed, iSpot reports that Universal has spent around $26.5M on Croods: A New Age TV spots to date. The depressed ticket sales we’ve seen lately stem from the low amounts of money which distributors are expending to promote their films. Hopefully exhibition and the overall domestic box office will reap the upside of Uni’s financial commitment to P&A this weekend. At this early point in time, it looks as though Croods: A New Age is poised to make $1.8M in its first day (sans Tuesday night previews), which by pandemic standards, is a good start in a broken exhibition marketplace.
What’s unique about Universal’s promotional partner campaign for Croods: A New Age is that it’s playing both sides of the pic’s theatrical and early PVOD release windows, the latter dated for Christmas. Uni has truly cranked up the volume here, perhaps in a bigger way than Warner Bros. did with Tenet over the summer (granted, R-rated movies aren’t known for their list of promo partners like family movies are), with Croods: A New Age getting a huge push across NBCUniversal’s subsidiary tentacles in what the conglomerate bills as their Symphony program (more on that in a bit). It’s the first time that a Universal Symphony theatrical release campaign has anchored both a theatrical and PVOD window.
“What makes Croods: A New Age so great, is the movie’s relatable characters, as well as its family dynamic which is evolving,” explains Jill Brody, Universal SVP of Global Promotions about the studio’s approach to lining up ad partners for the animated sequel. “We wanted to go after that family audience.”
In the Joel Crawford-directed movie, the Croods come in contact with a new family, The Bettermans, who have bigger and better stuff. The movie deals with the theme of evolving…or not. For example, there’s one scene in the movie that shows a character looking out of a window. This proved to be a prime opportunity for Universal to team with flat TV manufacturer Vizio, playing off the comical notion that windows were like the first TVs during the stone ages. Vizio’s Croods 2 campaign, which kicks off on Dec. 14, is poised to garner 1 billion impressions with the pic gaining exposure on boxes of Vizio’s select M and V series models, in addition to receiving a plug on the TV maker’s social media, and in-store at national retailers.
In keeping with the pic’s theme of contending with a more evolved society, Uni partnered with consumer neobank Chime which reaches 8 million accounts for a co-branded custom animated TV spot that began airing last Friday. Chime is a technological neobank which provides financial services through its mobile app. Chime doesn’t have any physical branches, and they’re known for not charging any monthly or overdraft fees (they’re teamed with The Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, which are Members of FDIC that power the bank accounts used by Chime Members). The Chime tie-in for The Croods: A New Age reps the corp’s first with a major motion picture studio. Chime’s paid media campaign is set to deliver around 750M+ impressions across TV, digital and social media. Watch the spot below:
Of great importance to Universal was that kids could connect and engage with The Croods characters and take them home. Hence, Uni looked to Burger King which is blasting off a line of six premium toys at their 7,5K locations on Dec. 21. About 5 million toys will be available in all, with the movie receiving in-restaurant promotion via toy posters, counter banners, menu decals, as well as an online banner on the Burger King kids meal website.
Also on the food side for Uni, there was Jamba Juice, which hasn’t been involved with a movie promotion for quite some time. Croods: New Age centers around an utopian environment where the cave-people are surrounded by beautiful gardens of fruits and vegetables. “Partnering with Jamba made a lot of sense from a creative standpoint, plus they target kids,” says Brody. Since Nov. 10, Jamba has featured two Croods-themed kids smoothies on their menu –“Sash’s Splash” and “Croodaceous Cooler”– with an accompanying custom cup at their 7,5K locations coast to coast. Jamba is promoting the film via organic social and digital ads as well as paid media through the end of 2020.
NBCUni also teamed with their 30 Rockefeller Plaza NBC neighbor, FAO Schwarz; the store featuring a complete Croods takeover of its iconic holiday windows. The window dressing began last Saturday and will stay up throughout the holiday season with 11 large-scale windows showcasing key characters and moments from the sequel. The windows wrap around 49th Street and onto Rockefeller Plaza, providing marquee exposure for The Croods: A New Age in a prime holiday location that’s right near the Today studio.
Uni began plotting their global promotional campaign for The Croods: A New Age close to a year ago. Burger King was booked then as the hamburger chain required time to manufacture all the pic’s premium merchandise. Chime needed several months to get the animation together for their TV spot while the studio’s conversations with FAO began six months ago.
Universal’s Symphony marketing campaign for the sequel fired off two weeks ago. On sister Xfinity cable systems, there was a co-branded custom spot for both the theatrical release and home premiere. NBC, Telemundo, Bravo featured broadcast theme nights for Croods 2 featuring exclusive film content and tune in-elements. Croods: A New Age also has a high profile across NBCU sporting events and holiday programming including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Purina Dog Show and Sunday Night Football among others.
And of course, there was branding on NBCU’s news streaming service Peacock with a custom animated holiday yule log featuring the Croods characters.