IN MY OPNINION

Entertainment marketing has become a viable option in promotion planning. Faced with shrinking budgets and growing "untested" venues for advertising, brand managers have embraced tie-in promotions with home video to add sales excitement to their marketing strategies. Properties such as "Batman," "Ninja Turtles," "Free Willy" and "Jurassic Park" have that Hollywood sizzle and broad appeal that a hot

Entertainment marketing has become a viable option in promotion planning. Faced with shrinking budgets and growing "untested" venues for advertising, brand managers have embraced tie-in promotions with home video to add sales excitement to their marketing strategies. Properties such as "Batman," "Ninja Turtles," "Free Willy" and "Jurassic Park" have that Hollywood sizzle and broad appeal that a hot property delivers. Not all brands have "Jurassic" budgets. But your brand can find a place in an entertainment program or tie-in promotion. There are many excellent properties that will be more appropriate for your brand than a blockbuster title -- at a fraction of the cost.

Why do blockbuster titles come at such a high premium? It's a numbers game. The more money a movie makes at the box office, the more money the studio will spend to promote the video. The goal is to sell more videos -- and more products for the marketing partner -- in a coordinated effort through co-marketing promotional tie-ins. The studios seek partners who will bring significant coverage and weight to the promotion to justify the cross-promotion benefits it provides in return. The larger the title, the larger the investment. By "investment," we mean that the largest studio titles will want television advertising or a "substantial" in-store campaign with displays, repackaging if possible, rebate offers and print advertising. However, blockbuster titles represent only a fraction of the number of wonderful studio and independent properties available. Children's and special-interest titles, for example, offer high-quality productions with high-demand projections. These titles can be the inspiration for new promotional ideas that use your existing media and in-store creativity. They are an opportunity to slant your creative themes without overextending your existing budget. All you have to do is find a title that fits your profile and your promotion windows. It's always worth a look.

Brand marketing partners for home video can expect logo, product and promotion details to be displayed in most of the trade and consumer press that the studio uses for the promotion. They are identified on all the displays and videocassettes poured into the marketplace. It is really amazing how efficient and effective the studio's marketing channels are. A tie-in promotion with studio titles often ends up on the circular covers of Target, Kmart and Wal-Mart stores, and the brand's promotion information is clearly included.

Consumers love entertainment. You will find that your retailers-merchandisers also love it, because entertainment tie-in promotions work -- they create excitement and move products.

Patricia Ganguzza is vice president of entertainment marketing at Aim Promotions, Astoria, N.Y.