New ways to hype H’wood

Skaterizers among new marketing ploys

Several newfangled marketing ploys — involving Rollerblade skaters, ATM machines and even lowly batteries — may soon help Hollywood hype its hits.

Gotham-based Adwheels is one such renegade firm stepping out with an it’s-so-crazy-it-just-might-work idea.

The firm is set to deploy teams of inline skaters to popular city spots, showing high-definition movie trailers from a computer strapped to the bladers’ stomachs. Imagine the Teletubbies grown up and with jobs in marketing.

A personable approach

Skaterizers, as they prefer to be called, can also pass out promotional freebies, put the crowd on camera and log on to the Internet. The blading teams can even be designed to speak different languages or target a certain age group.

Insane, maybe — but the marketing plan is carefully crafted, “combining the quality of TV, radio or direct mail, and packaging them altogether in a personable way,” said Adwheels creative director Laurance Rassin.

Rassin, who shopped his wares to two major studios, recalls one exec excitedly shouting, “I see at least five applications for this!”

While no deals have been finalized to put Adwheel’s tummy-technology to the test, the company has completed promo work on DreamWorks’ “Mousehunt” and MGM pics “Disturbing Behavior,” “Species” and “Hackers.”

Ducats, dollars & clips

The ATM machine is another innovative marketing tool for films. Electronic Data Systems has equipped 1,200 7-Eleven stores in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago with ATMVision — machines that play full-motion trailers by satellite before cash is dispensed.

EDS surveyed moviegoers 18 months ago, finding that 50-60% of people waiting in line for theater tickets had visited an ATM within the previous two hours. Moreover, half of those ATM users admitted that while they were pulling out cash, they hadn’t yet decided which movie to see. EDS also found that ticket sales jumped 15% at theaters located near ATMVision machines.

“You clearly have the undivided attention of consumers. They’re staring at the screen waiting for their money; there’s really nothing much else to do,” EDS project manager Dale Dentlinger said.

7-Eleven ATMs most recently helped promote Fox Searchlight’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Full Monty” and “The Ice Storm.” The studio was charged for advertising on a per transaction basis.

The third-largest ATM manufacturer, Triton, is fine-tuning its video-equipped model — the first that can show full-motion advertising on a wide screen. Triton will offer it to both banking institutions and individual retailers.

And at this year’s Advanced ATM Conference in San Diego, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce general manager Michael Rowley led a seminar explaining how banks could sell movie tickets directly from ATMs — specifically testing machines that spit out tickets to nearby Cineplex Odeon Theatres.

Collector items & food

Also coming down the pike is the battery product tie-in. Red Cell Battery, looking to compete with giants Duracell and Energizer, is rolling out character-packaged batteries.

Although the first designs aren’t directly advertising movies, Red Cell marketing consultant Barry Huey believes “you could create batteries for films very easily … They could be collector items.”

Red Cell will bow its product, currently packaged for Universal Studios Theme Parks and Marvel Comics, into stores nationwide this September.

Food-court press

Another revolutionary strategy, so basic studio execs may kick themselves for not thinking of it sooner, is the placement of almost theater-sized screens inside mall food courts.

New Jersey-based Screenzone has three such screens, sitting in front of munching, captive customers, in Torrance’s Del Amo Fashion Center, New Jersey’s Garden State Plaza and Boston’s Natick Mall. Each display shows looped trailers on a 4-foot-by-8-foot screen. At the base of the screen are computer stations for mallgoers to access more movie previews, view film times at the mall theater and purchase tickets directly.

The company has just finished hyping New Line’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” and 20th Century Fox’s “Never Been Kissed.” This month, Screenzone will drum up buzz for Sony Pictures’ “Dick,” showing the pic’s full-length preview and giving away a free trip to Washington, D.C.

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