Target's 'Emporium' play

Retailer key marketing partner

NEW YORK -- In a unique partnership between a Hollywood studio and major retailer, Target is the exclusive licensing and retail destination for toys based on Fox Walden's "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," starring Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman.

The deal is one of several "out-of-the-box" marketing tactics Fox Walden has used to promote the Nov. 16 film, including 7.5-second TV spots, a billboard constructed of Legos, a "Magorium"-themed taxi offering free rides in New York and a nationwide toy drive seeking to break the weeklong world record for toy collection.

"Certainly there's a number of unique things we're doing and hopefully we'll be able to break through the clutter," said Jeffrey Godsick, president of marketing at Fox Walden.

Target will sell 20 toy and candy skews manufactured by its preferred toy vendors Hasbro, Lego and Fisher-Price under deals it brokered with the toymakers. Except for the Sock Monkey, a toy based on a particular character in the film that already has sold out in many Target stores, most of the licensed products are retro versions of classic toys featured in the film with Mr. Magorium's seal of approval on the packaging. Among the retro or vintage toy lines are Rubik's Cube, Slinky, Risk and Lincoln Logs.

"This is the first time that Target is not only the exclusive retailer on a film but that they also sourced their own products and made the individual deals with the manufacturers to put together a compelling merchandising campaign," said Lisa Bay Adams, vp marketing and promotions for Fox Walden. "It's all part of Target's vision for what the merchandising for this movie at their stores should look like and feel like. They put the whole program together and we gave them the rights to do it."

A major advantage of the exclusive deal with Target is the marketing support it is putting behind the film and its exclusive toy line. This month, Target's in-store Channel Red TV network, which reaches an estimated 85 million customers a month, will air spots starring the Sock Monkey, Fox Walden said. A full-page ad in Target's store circular, which has a circulation of 55 million, will promote the movie and toy line as will end-of-aisle displays in 1,600 stores.

In addition, Target will be handing out 1 million surprise card packs promoting the film and toys at G- and PG-rated films starting this weekend.

Toy industry experts said the deal is a smart move for the studio, Target and the toy manufacturers. "Rather than just another movie in the collection of movies that are out at a given time, this is one that Target will really get behind so it will be a merchandising event for them," said independent toy consultant Chris Byrne. He said it's a tactic that makes sense for a smaller film as opposed to a blockbuster with huge merchandising opportunities such as the "Spider-Man" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises.

"I think it's really, really smart merchandising on Target's part," said Jonathan Samet, publisher of Toy Book and Licensing Book. "If the movie is successful, they're in a great position, and if it's not, the downside risk for both Target and the manufacturer is minimal."

Among the other marketing tactics Fox Walden is hoping will create some buzz is a 48-foot by 17-foot billboard made of Legos that will be placed above a storefront on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood starting Nov. 7. The wall of the building facing Sunset also will promote the film.

In another unusual move, Fox Walden will buy a number of 7.5-second TV spots built around one joke about one toy in the film, rather than the more typical 15- and 30-second film commercials. "The objective is to have a greater impact with the audience by airing multiple spots within several pods in a show," Godsick said.

In a more conventional promotional partnership, Wendy's will offer five different toy premiums as part of its kids meal program, along with in-store promotions and online support.

And in a fortuitous coincidence, an unrelated Visa TV ad campaign featuring a toy store where toys are magically juggled by customers as long as they use their Visa check card could help drive further awareness for the film about a magical toy store that comes to life.