Sports meets spirits in China

NBC Uni to cross-promote Olympics, 'Mummy' sequel

LOS ANGELES -- NBC Universal is putting the Sino in synergy.

The conglomerate is launching a marketing campaign next week that blends imagery from the Summer Olympics and Universal Pictures' "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," capitalizing on their common ground: Both productions are set in China.

The campaign kicks off Tuesday with an extended 150-second spot that will run during the NBC series "America's Got Talent."

The spot, which also will be cut into variations ranging from 10 seconds to two minutes for NBC Uni's cable networks and in-theater pods, utilizes special effects that fuse Olympic footage with "Mummy" scenes.

One such moment includes a backflip by one of the film's stars, Michelle Yeoh, who morphs into a gymnast on a balance beam. In another, a fight between stars Brendan Fraser and Jet Li is transported to fisticuffs in a boxing ring.

In the film, the mummy of an ancient Chinese emperor returns from the dead, along with the region's legendary terra cotta warriors. Much of "Mummy" was shot in China, which will host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in August.

The co-promotion is intended to allow "Mummy" to ride the marketing momentum leading into the Olympics, which in turn would be exposed to the film's young-skewing fan base.

The marketing for blockbuster films often piggyback on major sporting event promotions, including the recent combinations of "Speed Racer" with NCAA basketball's Final Four tournament and "Iron Man" with the NBA playoffs.

But Barbara Blangiardi, senior vp strategic marketing and content innovation, said NBC Uni's cross-division marketing council was looking to raise the bar. "We wanted to take it beyond the usual mash-ups," she said. "The shared location of China represented the opportunity to do something special together."

The campaign begins in theaters July 18 via National CineMedia.