Wal-Mart Makes Huge Push for DreamWorks' 'Dragons'

By Robert Marich

   March 19, 2010 – Wal-Mart lined up a big exclusive movie merchandise tie in with DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon that opens in a week via Paramount Pictures.
   DreamWorks is hoping big displays in 2,600 Wal-Mart stores flogging movie products will boost the theatrical opening of the PG-rated animated film. A press release says the displays “feature a giant How to Train Your Dragon designated area in stores, complete with a Viking ship and more than 100 How to Train Your Dragon items for purchase.”
  “This is one of the largest footprints that we’ve ever created in our stores for a theatrical release, with exclusive merchandise that has been custom created for our customers,” Gary Severson, senior vice president of Entertainment, Walmart U.S., says in the press release. “Our partnership with DreamWorks Animation has changed the way retailers can work with the movie industry.”
   Manufacturers such as Kraft, Kellogg, Pepsi and Spin Master worked directly with Walmart and DreamWorks Animation to create custom How to Train Your Dragon branded products.  A How to Train your Dragon activity book will be included in Happy Meals at 1,000 McDonald’s restaurants located within Wal-Mart stores.
   Notes the press release: “Walmart will begin actively advertising and marketing How to Train Your Dragon with broadcast, print and in-cinema spots as well as digital activities in the coming days.  Moviegoers will see that ‘actual dragons’ have arrived in stores in a 30-second in-cinema commercial running on more than 13,000 screens in 4,600 theaters.”  
   DreamWorks worked with Wal-Mart for a year to bring the merchandise and promotion, and the effort was led at the studio side by Anne Globe, head of Worldwide Marketing & Consumer Products for DreamWorks Animation.
  Wal-Mart’s big exclusivity is just for theatrical release, which Marketing to Moviegoers: Second Edition says is the most difficult to get partners. Merchandise and promotion partners worry films might flop at cinemas, so they are more interested in aligning to later DVD release of films, when their popularity is already known.
   “The deeper collaboration carries risks for both sides,” observes a Wall Street Journal article. “While Wal-Mart gets greater control over ensuring that the licensed merchandise fit its customer base, it could get saddled with boatloads of dragon skateboards and horned Vikings helmets if the movie flops at the box office. Early reviews of the film, however, have been overwhelmingly positive.”
   The WSJ article also notes DreamWorks will get only light promotinal coverage in big cities, because Wal-Mart stores are not in those cities (although stores are in adjacent suburban areas).
   For full text, click links below: