Coca-Cola backs Par's 'Ghost Protocol'

The Coca-Cola Co. has accepted the mission to back Paramount’s “Mission: ImpossibleGhost Protocol” and is now rolling out a Coke Zero campaign for the fourth installment of the Tom Cruise spy franchise bowing in December.

Such an early launch is unusual, given that most promo partners don’t target consumers until a month before a film’s release. But Coke wanted to get ahead of the busy holiday season, which will find marketers bombarding consumers with ads. The longer promo window will enable Par and David Ellison’s Skydance Prods., who is co-producing the pic, to generate buzz for the actioner 2½ months before it hits theaters.

Coke’s campaign won’t revolve around Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character, however. Instead, the company has chosen Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, which is featured prominently in the actioner.

One image puts the tower in the middle of a Coke Zero bottle. TV spots will use key scenes from the film, namely Cruise jumping from the Burj Khalifa, counting down to “Zero.”

“We’re partnering with this franchise and not necessarily the actor,” Chip York, worldwide entertainment marketing director for the Coca-Cola Co., told Variety.

At the same time, Dubai “is this hip new place people are talking about and is a character in the film,” York said. Centering on the locale and not the character gave Coke the freedom to design its own images and the leeway to continue with the series if Cruise chooses not to stay with the “Mission: Impossible” franchise down the road.

The company is building an extensive global campaign around Coke Zero with TV, in-theater, billboards, radio, retail and social media marketing support already out in some territories, including Japan, Greece and Switzerland.

The “Mission: Impossible” logo will be plastered on more than 100 million items of Coke Zero packaging, including cases, cans and bottles. Key markets include the U.S., Japan, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. In total, the promo effort is launching in more than 30 markets through December. Film bows domestically on Dec. 21 (it’s on Imax screens Dec. 16).

Since 2008, Coke has chosen one tentpole each year around which to launch a major campaign; James Bond pic “Quantum of Solace,” “Avatar” and “Tron: Legacy” were its most recent choices. The fourth “M:I” is the first of the action series that Coke has put its marketing muscle behind.

“We have seen a lot of success with these big tentpole films around the world,” York said. “This is our big bet this year.”

Coke sparked to “Mission: Impossible” because the franchise appeals to males — Coke Zero’s target — but also because it happens to mesh well with Coke Zero’s current “Make it possible” advertising tagline and the brand’s attributes of being “masculine, confident and bold,” York said. “There was an obvious linkage there.”

“The Mission: Impossible franchise and Coke Zero brand share an audience of fans who appreciate excitement and risk-taking, and this partnership creates a platform to build a unique engagement with consumers before the film’s release,” said LeeAnne Stables, exec VP of worldwide marketing partnerships for Paramount Pictures.

All marketing materials also feature a custom “M:I” logo, rather than heavily push the “Ghost Protocol” moniker, to better associate Coke Zero with the overall “Mission: Impossible” series.

“Obviously there will be an ambitious effort to move the franchise forward, and we wanted to do something were we can carry on and be a part of it in the future,” York said.

Retail displays will use the franchise’s iconic fuse. The “M:I” tie-in will also appear on popcorn bags and branded cups in movie theaters. And fans will be able to complete missions through an online game to attain agent-level access to exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, scenes, images and interviews.

A separate social game from SCVNGR will use a mobile phone app to drive users into participating movie theaters and convenience stores across the U.S. to win rewards such as pre-screenings, premiere tickets and Coke Zero products.

Coke will monitor the popularity of the game to consider using the app for other film promos in the future, York said.

In addition to Cruise, “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” stars Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Josh Holloway, Anil Kapoor and Lea Seydoux. Brad Bird (Pixar’s “The Incredibles”) directs from a script by Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec and Christopher McQuarrie. J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk and Cruise produce.

“As we get closer to the release of the film we will be rolling out additional elements of the film that will no doubt excite fans of the franchise and fans of the brand,” York said.

In return for its marketing support, Coke Zero will appear in the film, through its bottles and logo on umbrellas during cafe scenes, billboards in the background of shots and Coke Zero flags in Dubai. But the presence is dependent upon director Brad Bird’s final cut.

“The primary focus isn’t necessarily brand integration but how to drive (sales) volume,” York said.

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