Hollywood Leads Mobile-Marketing Charge

Hollywood has increasingly embraced the notion of mobile marketing, using it to connect with tech-savvy fans and build excitement for blockbuster releases.

Two hotly anticipated upcoming summer releases, Universal Pictures’ “The Hulk” and MGM’s “Legally Blonde 2: Red White & Blonde,” are the latest to sign up for ambitious mobile campaigns, and they’re including everything from text-messaging sweepstakes to themed ringtones.

Mobile marketing company Moviso announced on Friday a one-year licensing agreement with Marvel Enterprises to offer Hulk fans content from the movie and comic books. Moviso plans to offer ringtones, games, Hulk graphics and sound effects. The Los Angeles-based company has also set up a Web site, www.hulkmobile.com, to coincide with the movie’s release today.

Likewise, “Legally Blonde 2” has signed on with Los Angeles-based GoldPocket Interactive to offer a variety of text-messaging content and services tied to the movie. Elle Woods fans with text services from Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Cingular and Cincinnati Bell can receive blonde jokes, trivia, movie information, and enter a sweepstakes by sending the message “LB2” to the short code “BLNDE.” Fans can also sign up via the film’s promotional Web site.

GoldPocket Interactive, whose clientele in heavy with entertainment companies, also ran SMS campaigns for MGM movies “Die Another Day” and “A Guy Thing.”

The wide-ranging melding of entertainment and mobile marketing in “The Hulk” deal is similar to that of another blockbuster franchise, “Lord of the Rings,” which is the subject of a two-year deal between New Line Cinema and Verizon Wireless for mobile games, sweepstakes, and communities.

“The movie companies are understanding that a lot of their business is via word of mouth,” said Greg Clayman, vice president of business development at Upoc, which provided the mobile communities for “Lord of the Rings.” “The more different types of media they can get to people through, the better.”

Like “Lord of the Rings,” both “The Hulk” and “Legally Blonde 2” hope to tap into the sophistication of young cell phone users. With “The Hulk” appealing to young males and “Legally Blonde 2” targeting young females, the opportunity exists to build interaction with a tech-savvy groups inclined to heavy mobile use.

“Young women and teenagers are among the most enthusiastic users of this technology, so it makes perfect sense to reach out to them in this manner,” said Peter Adee, MGM Distribution’s president of worldwide marketing.

According to a survey conducted in February by text-messaging firm Upoc and consultancy Frank N. Magid & Associates, 27 million Americans use text-messaging services, up 9 million from a year earlier. The study also found that 35 percent have wireless Internet capabilities, up in November 2002.

As it slowly becomes a mass medium, entertainment companies have been the first to take the plunge in using it for marketing. “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” is another summer blockbuster with a mobile campaign, designed by Upoc, featuring games, polls, information, and trivia. The company has done other campaigns tied to movies, including one for “Ali” in December 2001.

“The results have been very good,” said Jonathan Linner, chief executive of Enpocket, a UK-based mobile-marketing firm. “Entertainment companies have reasonably large budgets and the market is very competitive. In the movie space, if you don’t open with a big weekend, you move to the bottom. Text messaging is a great way to reach a large number of people quickly.”

Enpocket announced earlier this week that it would open a branch office in Los Angeles to service its entertainment clients, including Warner Bros. and Universal Studios, and search for further Hollywood business. Enpocket did the mobile campaign for Levi’s Super Bowl promotion this year.

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