Fox Launches Web Promotions for Upcoming Films

Twentieth Century Fox is angling for a wired crowd with interactive promotions for two of its summer film releases, “Planet of the Apes” and “Moulin Rouge.”

In support of “Planet,” which debuts July 27, the studio launched a contest centered around what’s known in some circles as “geocaching.” The game centers around players’ receiving clues from the film’s Web site as to where to find a different cache of props from the movie each week. Players then physically travel to where they believe the props are hidden to collect the prizes, which are stashed in places across the country. Among other hints, users receive global positioning satellite coordinates from the site.

Press materials for the game gush about geocaching being the “latest and hottest online gaming phenomenon.” Optimistic though that description might be, it’s a new way to promote a big-budget release aside from the usual spate of pre-weekend film ads.

But there could be drawbacks. Clearly, Fox is targeting hip, techno-savvy audience with the thirteen-week campaign, but while GPS units have been available to consumers for years, the technology is far from pervasive. High-end automobiles come equipped with GPS tracking units, as do many pleasure boats and gadgets of the sort to be found in The Sharper Image — but most consumers haven’t had a compelling reason to splurge for such items.

Prizes in the geocaching game actually include a Garmin GPS unit, which will be given away weekly to a random winner.

For “Moulin Rouge,” which debuts Friday in the U.S., the studio’s taken a more media-centric approach to marketing. Rich media banner and pop-up ads aim to promote the film and its music, which is also heavily promoted on the film’s Web site and through buys on music sites like VH1.com.

Agency.com’s i-traffic handled the principal creative duties on the rich media ads, which borrowed graphics ands sound clips from the film. Additionally, the campaign includes creatives designed in EyeBlaster’s “takeover” ad format, which features a movie poster and animation moving around a user’s screen. That ad appears in select parts of VH1.com.

With “Moulin,” the studio appears to be angling for teenage audiences (buys include Bolt.com, Alloy and MTV.com). It’s an unusual tactic, since the film is director Baz Luhrmann’s retelling of the classical Orpheus myth — not in and of itself a big draw for the Britney set. The studio also has to compete for the demographic with heavily-promoted less-cerebral offerings: Universal’s “The Mummy Returns” and Buena Vista Pictures’ “Pearl Harbor.”

For its part, Fox is adamant that its online budget was well-spent for the films. Studio spokespeople declined to comment on spending, but at least one source close to the “Moulin” production said that the campaigns’ strategy were the result of “careful and exhaustive consideration.”

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