April 16, 2009: The new Star Trek movie from Lost executive producer J.J. Abrams opens on May 8. But Trekkies already are communicating on the Internet about the pros and cons of marketing tie-ins that include ESPN, NBA basketball on TNT, Burger King, Esurance, Kellogg, Intel and a plethora of products ranging from toys, apparel and jewelry to a retro SKU of colognes that feature stars from the original Star Trek TV show. Analysts estimate the promo efforts could top $50 million and might have been higher in previous years except that so many of the marketing elements are reaching their intended demographics via the Internet as opposed to traditional TV spots.
Among the tie-ins:
ESPN is journeying with the crew of the USS Enterprise for a "Futures Week" that includes shots of the Star Trek trailer juxtaposed with athletes with the tag, "Star Trek: The future is now." Tie-ins include "Baseball Tonight presented by Star Trek" and promos for ESPN's coverage of the NFL draft on April 25-26.
TNT has run Star Trek spots during NBA games, which will continue into the post-season, which begins April 18. The "Not your father's Star Trek" spot, which has aired on TNT and ESPN, opens with what seems to be a race scene out of Fast & Furious followed by quick-cut sequences of the new 20-something crew in action.
A promotion at Burger King beginning the first week of May will include kids' toys, collector glasses targeting older consumers, a TV spot and such POP as posters, place mats and bags.
Kellogg's is offering on specially marked packages of Pop-Tarts tickets to the movie as well as a cereal that comes with "Starfleet insignia-shaped marshmallows." According to the promo, "Get ready for the never-before-told story of the greatest space saga of all times - Star Trek. Join James Tiberius Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Bones and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise for an epic adventure filled with edge-of-your-seat action and ground-breaking special effects."
Intel has launched a "Boldly Go" Web site that takes visitors on an inside tour of Star Fleet command that includes extended clips from the Paramount movie but is basically product placement for Intel products.
Esurance has a dedicated micro-site promoting "out of this world" content and an "Explore New Worlds" sweepstakes offering a grand prize of a trip for two to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. Esurance's animated icon, Erin, also has been turned into "the galaxy's biggest Trekkie" in promotional posters and marketing. Among other activations, Esurance will sponsor "Star Trek Movie Night" at AT&T Park in San Francisco on April 27, when the Los Angeles Dodgers come in to play the Giants. And Genki has produced three colognes that tie new Star Trek marketing with the TV show from 1966 that started it all. "Tiberius," which is the T. in Capt. James T. Kirk, features a picture of William Shatner with marketing that promises its wearer will smell like an "Explorer. Soldier. Time-Traveler. Diplomat. Legend." "Red Shirt" asks the wearer to "Put yourself in the line of fire. Because tomorrow may never come."
At www.Trekbbs.com, the discussion is taking both sides, although no one is oblivious to the fact that it is a Madison Avenue-driven strategy that is at the helm of the star ship Entertprise. "Urbandk" offered, "Ballsy move. I've never seen a full-court press quite like this." To which "Spilio" added, ". . . which is probably part of the reason this film will be successful. JJ understands that products need to be have marketing programs. At www.ToplessRobot.com, a post targeted the "Not your father's Star Trek" spot. "This commercial aired during NBA basketball games on TNT this weekend, meaning the movie's marketers think people who watch professional sports have fathers that are nerds... I guess? It's all just very weird."