Lights! Camera! Yahoo!

  |  March 14, 2002   |  Comments

A series of moves continues the Web portal's efforts to become a marketing platform for movie studios.

Web portal Yahoo is beefing up its efforts to woo film studios as advertising clients, signing an agreement with independent house Artisan Pictures and opening an office closer to Hollywood.

In its first push for Artisan, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based site said it would begin promoting the upcoming college party comedy "National Lampoon's Van Wilder," starring Tara Reid and Ryan Reynolds, which opens April 5.

The marketing effort, targeted at 18- to 24-year-olds, will include promotion across the Yahoo portal with expanding, rich media ad units.

Yahoo also will run two contests promoting the film. An online sweepstakes will award tickets to the Los Angeles film premiere, while an offline contest will encourage moviegoers -- especially fraternities and sororities -- to collect as many "Van Wilder" ticket stubs as they can during the film's opening weekend. Up for grabs is a $5,000 cash prize for a "Van Wilder"-themed party. Artisan and Yahoo Movies said they would provide Greek and other on-campus organizations with promotional "how to win" kits for use in competing in the contest.

Yahoo also said it would endeavor to reach out to the Spring Break crowd by sponsoring a co-branded pedicab in Panama City, Fl. The bike-cab will include a Compaq iPAQ PDA, which will show clips from the movie.

"Through this wide-reaching promotion with Yahoo, we are able to expose National Lampoon's Van Wilder to one of the largest audiences of movie fans on the Web," said Amorette Jones, executive vice president of worldwide marketing at Artisan Pictures. "Our promotional program enables movie fans to experience many elements of 'National Lampoon's Van Wilder' before they see the film in their local theatres. Yahoo's rich media platform directly supports our marketing efforts by providing movie fans online with video clips, images and information."

That's not the only move that Yahoo will be making to better its position as an outlet for film marketing. Next week, Yahoo's Entertainment unit also plans to open an office in Santa Monica, Calif., which will specialize in home and theatrical entertainment. The office will house sales, production, business development and marketing groups.

"Yahoo Movies is committed to bringing the best content to our users, while using our vast audience and online marketing expertise to become the promotional partner of choice for film studios like Artisan," said David Mandelbrot, vice president and general manager of Yahoo Entertainment.

The centerpiece of Yahoo's studio-focused efforts has been Yahoo Movies, a unit of its Yahoo Entertainment division. On behalf of major film studios, the Yahoo Movies site, movies.yahoo.com, runs ads, trailers and content like premiere photos. As with "Van Wilder," deals signed in conjunction with Yahoo Movies typically entail promotion across all of the portal.

Last week, Yahoo Movies signed Fox's Twentieth Century Fox unit to a marketing deal in which the portal would promote upcoming theatrical releases like "Ice Age" and "Minority Report," and home video/DVD releases.

In addition to Fox, Yahoo has relationships with other major studios, including Disney , AOL Time Warner's Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, and Vivendi Universal.

Yahoo began ramping up its efforts for studios within the last year, Mandelbrot has said -- an effort that coincides with the arrival of the portal's new chief executive and chairman, Terry Semel. Semel, a longtime Tinseltown bigwig, had previously been a co-chairman at Warner Bros., and, with Robert Daly, is largely credited with helping to turn the studio around.

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