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Mechanical money

Fox's 'Robots' finds plethora of partners

Robot-flavored ice cream?

It’s coming to a Cold Stone Creamery near you, thanks to 20th Century Fox’s marketing department.

Hollywood movies have been a steady presence on Madison Avenue for years, as studios partner with all sorts of household brands to hype upcoming pics. But consumers will soon witness one of the most extensive displays ever of this phenomenon, as no less than $100 million in promotional partnerships have been lined up for Fox’s CGI pic “Robots.” To put the figure in context, the production budget on the toon is believed to be only $73 million.

The brands involved include Burger King, Kellogg’s, Verizon, the U.S. Postal Service (3 billion “Robots” cancellation stamps will ink America’s mail), Kids Cuisine and Sunbeam Appliances.

Other key promotional partners include AOL, which is direct mailing 1.55 million “Robots”-themed CD-ROMs, each with a game and “desktop”; Rayovac batteries, with themed retail displays and an exclusive toy offer; and Vivendi Universal Games, which has already released a “Robots” vidgame. Additional promotions are in place at Kroger supermarkets, Wal-Mart stores, Toys R Us, Home Depot, Borders, Barnes & Noble and Tower Records.

“It event-izes the movie,” said Geoffrey Godsick, exec VP of marketing at 20th Century Fox. “The promotions are all over the place so that they penetrate the lifestyle of the (mass) culture.” Godsick added that CGI films in particular, with their cross-demographic appeal and unusually long life on DVD, have particularly drawn consumer brands to throw their weight behind an opening.

For “Robots” Fox has also formed promotional special programming alliances with webs including Nickelodeon, the WB, Cartoon Network, HBO and Radio Disney.

For all the promotional blitz, though, Fox has kept the shilling entirely out of the movie: No product placement deals were struck for “Robots.” Director Chris Wedge, who also helmed the sleeper hit “Ice Age,” presents a totally imagined universe populated solely by mechanical beings.

As such, “Our products wouldn’t have fit with the story or world Chris has created,” Godsick explained. “It has to be dictated by the story.”

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