Coke's clout helped enlist barrage of retail partners

Universal’s “Battleship” is ready to set sail with the Coca-Cola Co., Subway and Kraft enlisting to serve as the actioner’s primary promotional partners.

Combined with Chevron’s ExtraMile convenience stores, Cisco, Hilton, Nestle Confections & Snacks, the U.S. Navy, and the USO, the marketers will spend $50 million on campaigns that tie in with “Battleship’s” release in the U.S. on May 18.

Plans include TV spots; radio, print, online and in-store ads; in-theater promos; art on packaging; and live events.

Most of the companies’ products are prominently featured in the film that’s loosely based around the Hasbro boardgame.

Coke Zero is the focus of Coca-Cola’s campaign and already has launched a “Battleship” TV spot that the film’s director, Peter Berg, helmed.

The spot bowed during the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship on CBS. Coke Zero is the official “fan refreshment” of the NCAA.

Although Coke Zero, a low-calorie brand that targets young males who don’t want to drink Diet Coke, also backed Paramount and Skydance’s “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” in December, that campaign rolled out overseas, whereas Coke Zero’s “Battleship” ads also play in the U.S., giving Universal more marketing firepower.

Coke also is helping to get “Battleship” in front of more moviegoers through its relationship with some of the film’s other promo partners.

For example, Coke’s clout helped entice retailers to build high-profile displays featuring Coke Zero alongside products from Kraft, including its Wheat Thins, Triscuit, Ritz Bitz, Chips Ahoy!, Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids — especially leading up to Memorial Day in supermarkets. It will be the first time Coke Zero has launched a marketing effort around the holiday.

Coke’s beverages also are served inside Subway restaurants, continuing its cross-promotion with other “Battleship” backers.

“It’s very helpful to have Coke as an anchor because they’re so strong at retail,” said Stephanie Sperber, prexy of Universal Partnerships & Licensing, which brokered the brand deals. “It expands the reach of the film and our partners.”

Subway was selected as the film’s official fast-food partner due to the chain’s young male demographic, which U is trying to reach with “Battleship.”

“They hit the ‘Battleship’ audience bullseye,” Sperber said.

Subway will promote “Battleship” through signage and other materials at its 24,800 stores nationwide and print, TV and radio ads that bow April 15 in most markets. It will also launch a “Battleship” microsite and sell limited-edition “Battleship” cups featuring Coke Zero, film imagery and a sweepstakes code.

In addition to plastering “Battleship” imagery on millions of Coke Zero cans, Kraft’s Nabisco will offer a “Battleship” sweepstakes on more than 10 million packages nationwide. Nestle Confections & Snacks will launch a ‘Battleship’ promo with its Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger, Baby Ruth & 100 Grand candy bars on Facebook and in-store merchandising displays.

Although it’s been featured in other films, “Battleship” is Cisco’s first film partnership, with the tech giant set to launch digital and print media support around the film in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Hilton, which has an overall corporate partnership with Universal, will promote a “Battleship” sweepstakes through print and online ads, social media sites, as well as e-mails to its HHonors members. Prize includes a trip to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, where the film’s crew stayed during the pic’s production.

Chevron’s ExtraMile convenience stores will promote a “Battleship” game via radio, in-store game cards, online ads, in-store signage and pump displays.

Meanwhile the U.S. Navy will unspool in-cinema ads focused on the real men and women of the Navy, while the USO will host screenings for military and their families. Both will also make a big push for the film across social media sites.

“Battleship” stars Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna and Liam Neeson. Film was produced by Scott Stuber, Sarah Aubrey, Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir, along with Duncan Henderson.

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