Comment: Synergy, A Summer Blockbuster Staple

With less than a week to go, the full court press is on to promote Batman Begins. I stated in a previous post that my Dad asked me when it comes out. The marketing gurus of DC’s prized possession must be grinning ear-to-ear when they can get a 52-year old who was never into comics asking that question.

2-3 weeks ago the country had only been treated to a handful of trailers promoting the release of the film, but now they’re bringing out the big guns.

Synergy is the name of the game, and all companies willing to pay, can play. Verizon Wireless has teamed up with Warner Bros., offering some cool content for your phone. They’re offering games, wallpaper, and ring tones…all the bells and whistles to modify your phone. Lucas did the same by pimping out Episode III to Cingular. He actually went a step further, though, offering up the entire Star Wars franchise! Content for all six movies was available.

At first glance, this marriage of a communications giant and a comic book hero didn’t seem like a natural fit. But then it hit me, cell phones have become the equivalent of a Happy Meal. Bear with me here for a second. You go to McDonalds because you’re hungry, just like we buy cell phones, because we want to communicate. But you sure as hell aren’t leaving McDonalds without the toy, or getting a phone without the gadgets. Granted, not everyone can get a cell phone with all the latest tech installed, but given the choice, which would you choose?

Unless you have a memo-taking, voice-activated, camera phone that can cook you dinner, all you have is a mobile phone. Cell phones are now becoming the adult versions of Happy Meals. Sure, the fries are tasty, and the burger’s nice and greasy, but it’s the Darth Maul Mini-BobbleHead we really want. The same now applies to cell phones. Sure we want the phone, but what we really want to know is how much other shit it can it do besides making a call. Part of Batman’s allure is the gadgetry he sports while trying to thwart nefarious plots against Gotham. After putting some thought into it, this common thread of gadgetry made this merger feel natural.

batmanbegins400_logoThe same can be said for Warner Bros. and NASCAR’s deal on June 19th at the Michigan International Speedway. This Nextel Cup race will be renamed the “Batman Begins 400.” This is a strike right at the car fanatic. Warner Bros. has been pushing the gearhead angle for some time now. In fact, if I remember correctly, the first picture released from the film was that of the Batmobile, aka The Tumbler. If I’m not mistaken Nascar has the biggest fan base of any sport in the U.S., thus making this move a no-brainer.

Dan Romanelli, President of Warner Bros. World Wide Consumer Products, couldn’t have said it any better: “We’re looking forward to pairing the on-screen excitement of Batman Begins to the on-track excitement of NASCAR. A fast car, the Batmobile(TM), and a host of high-tech gadgets have always been key to Batman’s success in fighting his way to victory over crime. As NASCAR’s finest drivers take to the track on June 19 for the Batman Begins 400 at Michigan International Speedway, they will utilize all of the high-tech gadgets at their disposal to take their team to victory lane.”

These are only two of the countless sponsors for Batman Begins. Wal-Mart has a big in-store event being held on June 18th. Multiple kiosks will be set up throughout their stores, each one featuring different content related to the film. Something like 97.3% of the world shops in Wal-mart. So if you’re looking for exposure, that isn’t a bad place to start.

Ultimately, I’m just stating the oblivious. This has been the MO for some time now with big-budget summer releases. It just makes me long for the days we went to the movies because they were actually good, not because we are bombarded with advertisements. At one point in time, good reviews and word of mouth influenced people to go see a movie. Now, we will never know if a movie can survive on its own. Too much money is involved to market the film solely on its quality. Fortunately Batman Begins has the best of both worlds. Warner Bros. is pumping millions upon millions to promote it, and critics like it as well.

So, if asked why my dad wants to see Batman Begins, my answer would be one word: “Synergy”.

Ohh, my wife and a couple of friends saw the film on Friday in an advanced screening. In fact, the editor of this site was one of them. It is my understanding he was overheard saying the movie was “OK.” We’ll have to wait for his review in the coming days.

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