Universal to Promote “Grinch” DVD with MSN Effort

Christmas may be the last thing on people’s minds as we head into summer, but the folks at Universal Studios Home Video are busy cooking up a plan to promote the DVD and home video release of one of its recent box office hits — “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas” — with an integrated campaign involving a heavy online component.

The promotion, which draws heavily on Microsoft’s MSN portal and Internet Explorer Web browser, launches in November, in advance of the film’s release for home audiences at the end of the month. Central in the effort will be the Redmond, Wash.-based Web portal, which will create an online site for fans of the film.

At “virtual Whoville”, located at www.Grinch.msn.com, Universal says that fans of the movie will be able to view exclusive streamed footage from the film and play Grinch-themed games. Users also will be encouraged to sign up for promotional emails from “The Grinch” and Universal.

Visitors of the site also will be invited to download a Grinch-branded version of MSN’s Internet Explorer. By rolling out a specially designed browser, Universal is hoping to keep the film top-of-mind as the holiday shopping season swings into effect later in the month.

Users will be incentivized to download the browser by getting entry into a drawing that offers to remake one winner’s home into a Whoville-style residence.

A banner ad campaign will drive traffic to the site.

In addition, Claus.com, a site run by San Francisco Web shop Spunky Productions — and an e-commerce partner of Universal’s — also will change its home page to support the campaign.

In addition to the online effort, the estimated $20 million Universal is spending to promote the DVD/VHS release also includes spot market and national cable television, outdoor, radio and print ads. Joint campaigns and point-of-sale materials from partners — including Heinz North America, Hershey Foods Corp. and Wendy’s — will contribute to the campaign.

Overall, Universal said it’s hoping to garner more than 10 billion impressions, reaching 98 percent of all U.S. households more than 18 times each.

The company isn’t disclosing how much of that $20 million it’s spending on online media, but Universal Studios Home Video president Craig Kornblau said the integrated effort is one of the largest cross-media pushes it’s ever made for a single release.

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