Tribeca Film Festival Adds Slew Of Big-Name Sponsors

The Tribeca Film Festival, a project of actor Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal and now in its sixth year, is adding a raft of new sponsors for this year's event, with brands Montblanc, Target, Yahoo, AARP and others joining a roster of some 50 corporate sponsors.

The festival--which runs from April 25 through May 6 this year--was founded in 2002 by De Niro, Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff partly as an effort to revitalize Manhattan's downtown, whose economy had been crippled by the 9/11 attacks.

Sponsorship activity for the festival, which has attracted 1.5 million attendees so far--and about 450,000 last year--includes relationships with specific films, sponsorship of awards, categories, grass roots and guerrilla efforts in New York City, national advertising integrated and timed with the festival, and media partnerships.

Jon Patricof, COO of Tribeca Enterprises, says there has been a dramatic increase in the depth of sponsorship participation, with media and content driving national and global reach for sponsorships.

"Basically, traditional on-site sponsorships have morphed into multi-platform relationships that cut across both activities in New York as well as media activation, consumer promotions, and content area," he says. "We try, where we can, to find ways for sponsors to enhance filmmaker experience and opportunities."

He says that last year, for example, Jameson Irish Whisky worked with the festival to be a partner of the Ed Burns-helmed "The Groomsman," in which Jameson has sponsored a European tour of the film culminating this year. Jameson activated the association with advertisements in European editions of GQ and Esquire. "That's a really good example of where we were able to find a very organic way to integrate marketing partners to benefit all three parties."

Sponsors also tout promotional arrangements and have banner ads on www.tribecafilmfestival.org, which features short films, official selections, and trailers and touts sponsored events, and banner ads for sponsors' products. ESPN is touting a May 5 series of panel talks, sports-themed films and events at the festival featuring actors and sports stars and moderated by Giants player-turned-announcer Tiki Barber.

Patricof says plans involving last year's partner, NBC, are in development. Last year NBC ran a festival special in 13 markets. "Access Hollywood and Reel Talk will cover the festival so there's no doubt there will be national exposure on TV," he says. "Sponsors who want to activate on a national level will get involved with the TV part of it, as well."

Cinema chain AMC is promoting its relationship with the festival by screening trailers of festival films, per Patricof. As part of their sponsorship deal, AMC runs Tribeca Film Festival trailers pre-festival about six weeks out in 1,257 screens in AMC theatres in major markets nationwide.

Sponsors are boosting grassroots efforts as well. Founding sponsor American Express last year ran national TV spots during the festival starring De Niro. The company's grassroots efforts this year will include information centers throughout Manhattan, a Family Festival Street Fair, and presenting sponsor of awards for Best New Narrative Filmmaker and Best New Documentary Filmmaker. AmEx will also run special access offers for cardholders.

Montblanc will use its sponsorship to present, in New York, the 15th annual Montblanc de la Culture Award, which supports the arts in 10 nations. The company will hold a gala awards ceremony for nominees Wynton Marsalis, Quincy Jones and Martha Richards, with Val Kilmer, Rosanne Cash and Lee Daniels as jurors.

Denise Scala, Montblanc representative, says the company will use the event to run its global arts award program. "We may have collateral material and point of sale within retail boutique to honor the award recipient."

Patricof says Anheuser-Busch is promoting its Budweiser Select through consumer promotions around a film in the festival, which includes private screenings and a concert on April 26.

Target will sponsor a Tribeca Filmmaker Lounge. Other sponsors include Chock Full O'Nuts coffee, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary at the festival and use its presence there to unveil a new corporate jingle. The Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group brand will also field street teams in the city, who will offer samples of coffee. Chanel will sponsor the Artists Awards Program for the second year; Delta Air Lines also sponsors, putting its name on World Narrative Feature, Best Actor and Best Actress awards.

New sponsor AARP (American Association of Retired People) will have a "huge presence" at the festival, per Emilio Pardo, chief brand officer. He said the group, which has over 2.6 million members in New York City, will sponsor the festival volunteer corps, which includes an AARP tent for attendees, hundreds of volunteers and member discounts to festival programs.

He adds that the festival will be featured in AARP magazine and bulletin, which have a circulation of 22 million. "We will be using those channels and the Web," he says. The AARP, which recently expanded to 38 million members, is growing as boomers keep hitting 50--and members, which are skewing younger, show a strong affinity for arts, and culture. "Forty nine percent of our members are working, and there are three generations of members now."

Editor's note: This article has been edited since its publication to correct minor errors.

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