Big brands join effort to hype 'Sex and the City'

NEW YORK: New Line Cinema is partnering with a variety of brands as part of a larger campaign to promote the upcoming Sex and the City movie.

NEW YORK: New Line Cinema is partnering with a variety of brands as part of a larger campaign to promote the upcoming Sex and the City movie.

The studio is positioning the movie, based on the HBO show that came to an end in 2004, as "the Super Bowl for women." Partners have called it the biggest promotional opportunity of the year.

A number of brands - Mercedes-Benz, Skyy Vodka, and Glaceau VitaminWater - are leveraging the anticipation surrounding the film's release to promote products to the female viewers who made the show a hit.

Mercedes partnered with New Line upon the discovery and approval of the brand's appearance in the script, according to Donna Boland, manager of corporate communications at Mercedes.

Boland said that PR is most effective when linked to an event as opposed to "a landscape of words." She explained that as the film took shape, the communications teams at Mercedes and New Line realized there were new ways to collaboratively promote the brands.

During Fashion Week, Mercedes showed Sex and the City trailers; themed the Star Lounge; and tapped Patricia Field, the Sex and the City costume designer, to do a media preview of the film's fashion. Mercedes posted related images on the main Fashion Week Web site that, according to Boland, enjoyed enormous visibility and a great number of media hits.

"What's interesting is that there are companies that look to films to get a halo effect for products," she added, "but [this union] is more an outgrowth of our heritage with the fashion industry."

Boland noted that Mercedes' goal is to reinforce its positioning with brand and style makers, but also cast an eye toward the future generation and future buyers. Mercedes is working with The Donahue Group on extensive media outreach and has already leveraged most forms of media. Still, Boland said the campaign remains a work in progress.

"As we get closer to the premiere... we need to confirm how to activate [the partnership] from a marketing standpoint, and then how to leverage it from a PR standpoint," Boland said.

Skyy's partnership with New Line is not a work in progress, but a pre-ordained, three-phase PR campaign.

Early last summer, Skyy Spirits engaged in a competitive bid and pitched a "compelling program of activities" to New Line. It did so in hopes of latching onto the property that, as a show, inspired rival vodka brand Absolut to spend several million dollars on the "hunk" storyline placement, explained Dave Karraker, director of PR and events at Skyy.

Phase one was a behind-the-scenes product-placement effort, featuring the vodka at crew events and filming wrap-up parties.

TMZ was the first of many blogs to report that Skyy secured a sponsorship, Karraker said.

Skyy is now focused on phase two, securing business coverage of the promotion itself in order to generate sell-ins for promotions at retailers. In April and May, the PR team will work on bar outreach for Sex and the City-themed cocktail sell-ins, and a sweepstakes to win tickets to the premiere.

Online luxury retailer Bag Borrow or Steal, like Mercedes, has been written into the script and was approached by New Line for a promotional partnership.

Efforts include an online Sex and the City-inspired style shop and a YouTube contest, where contestants will clamor for premiere tickets by submitting a short video showcasing his or her style and creativity. The company tapped style site celebrities to judge entries. Jodi Watson, the company's CMO, said contests were an effective way to build brand awareness.

The company is working with PR agency RF Binder on outreach to online media and fashion weeklies and monthlies.

New Line has also partnered with jeweler H. Stern and Coty fragrances. Sarah Jessica Parker, the star of the film, has a line of fragrances with Coty.

A source at New Line did not call back in time for comment, but confirmed that partnerships are one element in the PR initiative.

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