Warner Bros. Turns to Viral Campaign for Teen Movie

Warner Bros. Pictures has launched two sites packed with viral components to support its June 1 release of teen flick “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”

The primary film site is heavy with interactive components, most of which can be customized and shared with friends. The Flash intro is dynamic, with one of the four lead actresses from the film reading a welcome message. Surfers who link to the site from Batanga, a Latin music Web site, will hear that greeting in Spanish.

Other features allow visitors to customize the colors of the site, receive mobile alerts, and download content like buddy icons and screensavers. There is also a robust greeting card builder that allows users to build customized audio messages voiced by the film’s four stars, then send them to friends. The audio message can be personalized by name, state of residence and the recipient’s interests. Warner Bros. used a similar feature to promote “Cinderella Story” with positive results. There is, of course, also background on the storyline, a trailer and video clips from the movie.

“Because one primary demographic for the film is younger women, we made the entire Web site itself viral in the sense that you can send any piece of content to your friends,” explains Michael Tritter, vice president of interactive marketing at Warner Bros. Pictures. “We’ve also placed a ‘Shout Out’ ticker on the bottom of the front page, so people can post messages to their friends on the front page of the site.”

To complement the official Warner Bros. site, viral marketing agency Electric Artists has launched www.friendshipquiz.net, where users can create a quiz and send it to their friends. From the answers, a tester can find out which of her friends knows her best.

“The idea here is that teens love to take quizzes, and to quiz their friends,” says Marc Schiller, CEO of Electric Artists.

The quiz allows a user to connect with her friends, a theme that mirrors that of the film, which is about close friendships.

“We expect a great response from the friendship quiz in particular because it is exactly the kind of thing we find people sending around to each other all the time.” Tritter comments. “It’s the sort of thing that people enjoy doing, because it’s connecting them with their friends in a fun and funny way, and works particularly well for the film because it’s a film about close friendships.”

Warner Bros. is promoting both Web sites through its network of college interns who post links on message boards and send emails to friends. Tritter says interns always identify themselves as working on behalf of Warner Bros., making sure postings are not “astroturf,” or fake grassroots efforts.

“Any time we have a great piece of viral content we use [our college interns] to get it going, posting wherever they have a receptive audience,” Tritter told ClickZ.

In addition to the grassroots efforts, Warner Bros. will be also do extensive online media buys across sites including MSN, MySpace, Alloy, Fandango and Latin music site Batanga.

Electric Artists first worked with Warner Bros. on the “Traveling Pants” franchise upon the publication of the first of the two books on which the movie was based. The company distributed early copies of both books to members of Electric Artists’ teen book club site, www.bookdivas.com. The agency’s efforts on the publishing end will continue as it works on campaigns for the third book in the series. The BookDivas Web site has a live chat scheduled with the author, Ann Brashares, the day the movie launches.

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