Universal Taps Rich Media for “Jurassic Park III”

Universal Pictures is shelling out a sizable wad of cash to promote the third film in its “Jurassic Park” franchise, tapping rich media ads and wireless to push the new release.

One of the main objectives of the “Jurassic Park III” campaign is to communicate with “rabid fans,” according to Universal’s vice president of new media, Kevin Campbell.

One way that the studio is aiming to do that is by using a wireless messaging channel, which dishes out information on actor appearances, behind-the-scenes facts, and dinosaur trivia. Run through New York-based mobile messaging firm Upoc, Universal also said the channel would include voice messages from the director, producers and cast.

Similarly, the studio tapped AdTools to develop a downloadable application that updates itself daily with content and clips from the movies, dinosaur facts, and so on.

Similar to Gizmoz’s offering, AdTools’s downloadable application for “Jurassic Park” differs in that it’s standalone — Gizmoz requires users to download a Gizmoz “collector” to house the downloadables it creates for clients. ch

An icon for the “Jurassic Park” AdTools downloadable sits in users’ Windows System Tray at the bottom-right of their screens, making it easily accessible. Additionally, the icon alerts them when new content is added. Users can also buy tickets for the film through the application.

The application stays “top of mind, all the time,” said AdTools president Chris Heitmann. “It’s not something where people have to remember to go to the Web site, or find emails in a big inbox of clutter.”

“On the desktop … audience retention is not even comparable to the Web,” he said. “People remembering to go back to marketers’ Web sites daily is unheard of, whereas … daily content sent out through this application is viewed a very high percentage of the time.”

“It’s a way to expand the experience of the movie and the JurassicPark.com Web site to someone’s desktop,” Heitmann added.

The studio also made a significant investment in the movie Web site itself. Users can navigate the site in Flash or in a unique, all-3D format dubbed the “JPIII Adventure.”

While each version allows users to access the same content — clips, movie information and dinosaur trivia — the JPIII Adventure adds an immersive gaming element to the site. Users can traverse the “Jurassic Park” island in a Quake-like first-person interface. As they explore, they can earn points toward film memorabilia by collecting secret items and avoiding dinosaurs. And the longer users play and survive, the more points they accumulate.

Additionally, users can sign up to receive wireless hints for the 3D game via the Upoc wireless messaging group.

While those efforts are geared toward the already-converted, Campbell said that Universal is hoping to attract new audiences using a rich media “takeover” campaign.

As in all “takeover” ads, the execution — which appears on several entertainment and portal sites — briefly cover the site’s content with a full-screen, out-of-the-box ad.

Using eyeBlaster technology, the “Jurassic Park” ad shows a shadow of a pteranodon flying “over” the Web page. Seconds later, there’s a howl, and claw marks rip through the page. Then, the tagline appears: “JP3: not just a walk in the park.”

Similarly, Campbell said the studio is using Unicast’s Superstitial format to deliver Web ads with the emotional impact of a TV spot. While the Superstitials are constructed in Macromedia Flash, “they’re loosely based on the television creative … so it gives you the feeling you’ve watched a TV spot, when in actuality, you haven’t.”

Traditional banner ads are also running on various high-traffic portals and services, including America Online and its AOL Instant Messenger application.

Additionally, Campbell said the studio is endeavoring to reach out to diehard fans through another channel — fansites. Universal is not only providing the AdTools downloadable to fansites, but it’s also providing them with movie banners, buttons and links, as well as news updates. He also said Universal had made the AdTools program available to America Online and MSN.

Universal is also running a sweepstakes on the site, offering a four-day VIP trip to Universal’s Islands of Adventure Theme Park in Orlando, Fla. (Contest entrants are also offered the opportunity to opt-in to mailings from Universal-owned Spencer Gifts and its own online gift store.)

“Certainly, with a movie like ‘Jurassic Park’ — which is an all-audiences ‘event movie’, we went all out, similar to what we did on ‘The Mummy Returns,'” said Campbell, referencing an earlier rich media advertising buy.

“In those cases, or when it’s targeted to a young adult demographic, we tend to pull out all the stops on the Internet. With a movie that has an older demographic, there might not be a need to do quite as much,” he said. “It might be more efficient to target the demographic on TV and in print.”

Campbell declined to disclose the amount spent on “Jurassic Park,” but said that for movies of this size, online media typically receives up to five percent of his budget.

“Not only does Universal produce top-notch entertainment that appeals to a wide range of moviegoers — they are also pioneers in using the Internet to build buzz and sell tickets,” said Hans Theisen, senior vice president of ad sales and operations for the Mplayer Entertainment Network, a publisher that’s hosting the eyeBlaster ads. “In my opinion, Universal is incredibly adept at producing rich, compelling ad messages for the Internet.”

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