Food, Fashion and 'Catching Fire': Lionsgate's Choosy Deals for the 'Hunger Games' Sequel

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
 Lionsgate

The immense success of the first Hunger Games film, which earned $691 million worldwide and launched the next hot YA franchise, bodes very well for its sequel, Catching Fire, which is opening in U.S. theaters Nov. 22.

With any major movie franchise, there are usually several marketing tie-ins, ranging from food to clothing and other products. With the big success of the first Hunger Games film, there were likely plenty of companies eager to align themselves with the hot YA franchise.

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Lionsgate has been relatively selective in the product tie-ins that it’s set up for the second film, arranging only a handful of deals with food, fashion and digital companies. According to experts, it’s smart to remain selective because passionate fans of the book franchise would be the first to sound the alarms if there were too many product partnerships that didn’t ring true to the message of the books.

Additionally, because the story centers on a futurist North America where people struggle for survival while the wealthy elite live in a utopian society called The Capitol, Lionsgate would have to tread lightly when linking products with the dark themes of poverty, oppression and deadly games.

When it was announced that Lionsgate’s sequel Catching Fire was partnering with Subway, some fans of the film based on Suzanne Collins' popular YA books were confused by the pairing.

“Am I the only one who sees the laugh out loud irony that Subway is an official sponsor of the #HungerGames?” wrote one fan on Twitter.

An ad for the “Fiery Footlongs” -- a line of sandwiches made specifically to tie with the film -- showed footage from Catching Fire, highlighting the brave and bold choices that Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) made to survive. The voiceover in the ad then goes on to describe the “Sriracha Chicken Melt drizzled in our own signature Sriracha made with a select blend of chili peppers for our boldest flavor yet.” Other sandwiches in the collection include the Sriracha Steak Melt, Jalapeno Turkey and Buffalo Chicken.



“Different people are going to have different points of view,” says Subway’s CMO Tony Pace, “but our comment is that we have a big charitable dimension of what we’re doing.”

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Tied to the Catching Fire promotion, which launched Nov. 1, Subway is giving away one million meals through Feeding America. Subway patrons are encouraged to take photos with the Katniss, Peeta and Finnick posters displayed in stores and then tweet the images using the hashtag #SUBtractHunger. Some of Subway’s celebrity spokespeople -- called the Famous Fans of Subway -- including sportscaster Jay Glazer, also took photos with the character standees. Additionally, a promotional sweepstakes tied to game codes that can be found on Subway cups and bags of chips offers winners thousands of prizes, including trips or free subs for a year.

While the themed sandwiches were originally planned only for the month of November, Pace says that because people are “reacting really well to them,” they could extend beyond their limited-time offer.

However, Subway’s partnership with the Lionsgate film extends far beyond the spicy sandwiches.

On Nov. 4, Subway’s 15-second Catching Fire ad aired directly after Christina Aguilera, who has a single on the movie's soundtrack, performed on NBC’s The Voice. Subway also is partnering with Walmart on an exclusive Catching Fire collectible cup design and on-pack DVD holiday presale offer.

The sandwich chain also hosted an early screening of the film in New York on the same night (Nov. 18) as the Los Angeles premiere.

Subway has worked on tie-ins with several other films in the past, ranging from Brave to Frankenweenie and Iron Man, but Pace says this partnership with the follow-up to the box office smash The Hunger Games has been especially interesting.

“People know that we’re involved with a lot of different movie properties,” says Pace with a laugh, “but I have never gotten so many requests from friends of old saying, ‘Could you possibly get me tickets?’ If the number of email requests is any indication of the demand for the movie, the movie is going to do quite well.”

Several other marketing partnerships have centered around The Capitol’s obsession with eccentric fashion and makeup.

Through an exclusive makeup deal, CoverGirl created Panem-inspired mascara, lip gloss, nail polish, eye shadow and nail decals, which launched in stores Oct. 1. A photo ad campaign featured images of models wearing looks for each of the 12 districts, themed to each of the different cities. The nine nail polish colors had fire-themed names such as “Black Heat” and “Pyro Pink,” while the decals had mini-flames dancing on each nail.


 

An even more ambitious partnership has been with Net-a-Porter to create the Capitol Couture line, a collection of 16 ready-to-wear pieces designed by the film’s costume designer, Trish Summerville. The looks come straight from The Capitol, the society’s government center that basks in wealth and high fashion while the rest of the Districts struggle to get by. The collection of clothing, jewelry and leather goods is not yet available for purchase, but was featured in the faux online magazine tied to the film.

Summerville tells THR that some of the pieces are very closely tied to the clothing worn in the film, while others are simply inspired by the characters.

"You want to pick pieces that definitely translate into a ready-to-wear line, and so you have to pick and choose silhouettes that you can scale down," she says. "There are things that are loose interpretations. There's an overall archery feel, which is a nod to Katniss."

Lionsgate also partnered with Internet Explorer to create The Hunger Games Explorer, an online destination featuring photos, blogs, videos and tweets from talent all in one place.

Another digital partnership was the creation of a mobile game called Panem Run. Lionsgate worked with Reliance, the same company that did tie-ins for Pacific Rim and Real Steel, to create the game, which launched Wednesday.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens in U.S. theaters Nov. 22.

Email: Rebecca.Ford@THR.com
Twitter: @Beccamford

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