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Tie-ins: LG, BK, 7-Eleven To Pump Paramount's Iron Man

Release gets prime early May placement in crowded summer sked.
January 07, 2008
By T.L. Stanley

Prepare for the thinking man's superhero and the brands who love him.

In a summer of big-budget event movies and the mega-marketing around them, Paramount Pictures will fire the first shot across the bow with the early May release of Iron Man, accompanied by a coterie of heavyweight partners that aim to drive an all-ages, but largely male, audience to the star-studded action release.

Cell phone marketer LG Mobile has picked the flick as its first movie tie-in, joining veterans Burger King, 7-Eleven and others. Audi will use the film as a global platform to launch its high-end R8 sports car.

The title character, a multimillionaire inventor played by Robert Downey Jr., was a key selling point in partner deal-making for Paramount and producer/property owner Marvel Studios. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, blends James Bond's old-school sophistication with modern better-living-through-technology ideals. The movie's also heavy on good vs. evil and crowd-pleasing special effects. He flies! And fights crime!

There's been strong fanboy buzz on the movie since last summer's Comi-Con, where Downey appeared with director Jon Favreau and castmates Terrence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow, but the studio intends to take it beyond niche, starting with a splashy Super Bowl ad and extending through broad-based promotions at 6,400 7-Eleven convenience stores and global campaigns with Burger King and Audi. "The partnerships fan out across every demo," said LeeAnne Stables, Paramount's svp-worldwide marketing partnerships. "And they reach consumers in ways and places that the studio marketing can't." Some lessons from the studio's successful Transformers deals from last summer will get a re-do here: Favreau will direct BK's TV ads, as filmmaker Michael Bay did for the robot movie/ burger chain tie-in, and the studio will pack a dedicated Audi Web site with original Iron Man content, to an even greater degree than it did for Transformers ally General Motors.

It's vital to have A-list partners, especially in a summer jammed with tentpoles like Warner Bros.' Dark Knight, Disney's Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Universal's Mummy threequel. Iron Man has a competitive advantage because of its May 2 release, effectively kicking off the lucrative summer season. Its partners are expected to spend upwards of $50 million in traditional and alternative media.

It's a battle to get those commitments, Stables said. "I ask people, 'What do you need for this to be successful? What will it be judged on when it's over?' The answers are very specific to their brand character and corporate environment." That was certainly the case with LG. Favreau opted for the brand because it worked best for the story.

Ehtisham Rabbani, LG's vp-product strategy and marketing, said he's heard countless pitches for tie-ins in the past that were tangential, at best, to the brand. "It needs to personify our brand," he said, "and Iron Man is the perfect embodiment of LG." LG plans a national TV push, likely with clips from the film, print, retail and online, all coordinated by Brand Buzz, New York.

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