Zynga Partners With Paramount/Nickelodeon Movies on 'Rango' Promotion

Rango and FrontierVille-Film-Game Promo-2011
Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies/Zynga

The week-long advertising integration marks the latest Hollywood pact for the social gaming firm, which has been looking to become a key partner for entertainment companies.

NEW YORK - Social gaming powerhouse Zynga continues its Hollywood push with a deal with Viacom's Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies to promote this week's theatrical release of Rango.

The partnership, which starts Monday afternoon, marks the first advertising integration for Zynga's FrontierVille game.

For the company, which offers casual games on Facebook and other social networks, it is the latest step on its way to fully establishing itself as a key marketing partner for film, TV and music players.

In the film space, its first deal featured DreamWorks Animations’ Megamind in a partnership that saw the animated film's protagonist launch a "Mega-Farm” within Zynga's flagship game FarmVille for a day. As DWA's distribution partner, Paramount was involved in that integration as well.

Zynga then placed Sony Pictures Entertainment’s The Green Hornet inside its Mafia Wars game.

On the TV side, Time Warner's TNT's in late December did a Southland integration with Mafia Wars.

And early last year, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Zynga partnered for a Mafia Wars campaign in support of the Blu-ray and DVD release of Public Enemies.

Music is also on Zynga's radar, and it has had a successful partnership with Dr. Dre for Mafia Wars that allowed players to watch the music video for the music producer's first single from his new album "Detox," among other things.

Zynga's games are free, but the company reportedly has been profitable since shortly after its launch. Beyond ad integrations, it also makes money when players pay for virtual goods.

The companies didn't disclose financial details of the Rango pact.

However, the more than 15 million daily FrontierVille players, according to AppData, can take on three Rango quests - and win a Rango statue inside the game - all week long. Players must find Rango, whose chameleon skills allow him to blend into the frontier, encourage their friends to send them 10 water buckets and view the film’s trailer.

Since the game features untamed wilderness and the movie is about the protagonist, voiced by Johnny Depp, helping others survive in a place that needs water, the two brands "fit together naturally," said Manny Anekal, global director of brand advertising at Zynga. "The Rango campaign offers a fun way to interact with the film's characters while enhancing game-play within FrontierVille."

”We are continuously looking for new and innovative ways to create interactive experiences for our movie-going audiences," said Amy Powell, Paramount’s executive vp of interactive marketing and film production. Given Zynga’s proven success building fun and engaging games, bringing Rango to FrontierVille seemed like a natural fit.”

In the 24 hour Megamind promotion period, more than 9 million people engaged with the Mega-Farm in FarmVille, according to Zynga.

CEO Mark Pincus founded San Francisco-based Zynga, named after his late bulldog Zinga with a nod to an African warrior queen, in 2007. The private firm's investors include Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm of Netscape and Ning co-founder Marc Andreessen and former AOL and AOL Time Warner top executive Bob Pittman's the Pilot Group, among others.