Sony Pictures, adiamondisforever.com Tap Entertainment to Hawk Wares

Using a tried-and-true marketing method, adiamondisforever.com and Sony Pictures are each tapping online entertainment as a way to make their pitch to consumers

For its part, Sony Pictures, a unit of consumer electronics giant Sony Corp., will promote its Screen Gems unit’s upcoming film, “Resident Evil,” on online gaming site TheStation.com.

There’s an obvious logic to the move: “Resident Evil,” set for release in mid-March, was originally a top-selling title designed by Japanese game publishing giant Capcom for Sony’s PlayStation game console.

The “Resident Evil” promotion includes online games, sweepstakes, a gallery of movie images, behind-the-scenes film footage, live chats, and links to the official movie site.

The campaign marks the inaugural promotion designed by the Internet marketing unit of Sony Pictures’ online division — Sony Pictures Integrated Network, also known as SPIN — which launched earlier in the month.

“This campaign is a perfect illustration of how we are truly integrating our efforts and working together across all our businesses to deliver a thoroughly satisfying experience for our consumers,” said Yair Landau, president of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment. “‘Resident Evil’ is an exciting property for us to first utilize the combined strength of [TheStation.com’s] unparalleled gaming expertise with SPIN’s marketing and promotional power.”

Sony said the effort would likely continue with upcoming films, but did not provide details.

Meanwhile, adiamondisforever.com is taking a similar route. It’s marketing to consumers via entertainment content through an interactive, episodic cartoon on Maxim Online — an approach that represents a marked departure for the hitherto reserved brand.

The cartoon, “Buck’s Diamond Dilemma,” is designed to encourage male Web surfers to buy diamonds and is branded by adiamondisforever, which is sponsored by the Diamond Trading Company, the marketing brand of diamond giant DeBeers.

Every month, Maxim Online — the Internet component of the Felix Dennis-owned men’s magazine — will run a new episode of “Buck” and encourage readers to vote on Buck’s decisions, the outcome of which are revealed the following month.

Users who vote receive an entry into monthly sweepstakes for prizes to give to their significant other — including Godiva chocolates, flowers and Victoria’s Secret lingerie. At the end of the eight-month series, one lucky voter will receive a diamond engagement ring worth about $5,000.

Ideally, the cartoon will aim to educate consumers about buying diamonds (DTC parent DeBeers controls close to two-thirds of the world’s market for rough diamonds) but also will encourage men to go ahead and shell out for an engagement ring.

“Through the character of Buck, young men will address their own inhibitions toward diamond purchasing in a familiar, pressure-free setting,” said Anne Valentzas, account director at DTC’s ad agency J. Walter Thompson, which designed the campaign and the adiamondisforever.com site.

Additionally, JWT handles creative duties for the “A Diamond is Forever” print and TV campaigns. Yet in spite of being designed by the same agency, the Web campaign’s offbeat, jocular tone marks a significant change from the brand’s more staid offline campaigns.

“As the digital medium evolves, communications strategies are being propelled to new heights,” Valentzas said. “Our partnership with Maxim Online represents the perfect ‘marriage’ of entertainment, technology and marketing. What’s more, it allows us to deliver our strategic message within the context of Maxim’s bold offline character.”

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