MLB, Disney Go To Bat For 'G-Force'

MLB/Disney Major League Baseball has signed its biggest promotional deal with a film studio to date. The tie-in with Walt Disney Pictures promotes the Jerry Bruckheimer 3-D movie "G-Force", an adventure-comedy starring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz, Sam Rockwell and Steve Buscemi.

The marketing program comprises three major elements: "G-Force" sponsorship of MLB All-Star balloting in June and July; sponsorship of individual team promotions around balloting, and a Grand Slam Sweepstakes during the All-Star game itself.

Disney's sponsorship of in-stadium All-Star balloting puts the "G-Force" logo on the 20 million ballots distributed at the 30 MLB ballparks and over 100 Minor League ballparks. John Brody, SVP, corporate sales and marketing for MLB, says the studio will have "G-Force" branding on ballot boxes, banners and announcements in the stadium, the "G-Force" logo on the ballots, full-panel movie ads showing two "G-Force" characters and half-panel ads with info on the sweepstakes. Brody says the ballot effort alone is enormous: "Our balloting program is the largest in professional sports."



The second part of the program involves "G-Force" promotional days at 29 clubs, centering on the balloting and featuring "G-Force" trading cards, trailers for the film, and prize giveaways during games in late June and early July.

The Grand Slam sweepstakes comprises a giveaway of one million tickets to the movie's July 24 opening. But the tickets are good only if a player hits a grand slam during the July 14 All-Star Game.

Entry is on Disney.com until July 14; entrants receive a code redeemable for one free ticket to the movie on its opening day, assuming a grand slam is hit during the big game. Also, attendees of the game, which will be played at St. Louis' Busch Stadium, will get a promotional card with a ticket code, good if a grand slam is hit.

Brody says the program will reach a huge number of people because it involves national activity and local-team activation. "It's a branding opportunity and an opportunity [for Disney] to interact with customers over a two-month period," he says.

The deal is also the first since 1994 in which a movie is promoting its debut during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game -- and the first that doesn't have a baseball theme. Back in '94, Disney was using the All-Star game to promote its "Angels in the Outfield" film.

Brody says Walt Disney Studios will do further activation. "Any promotional program we put together is only as good as the marketing behind it. This is something Disney will amplify as we get closer to the game; it is about a media effort to exploit the intellectual property of MLB, so you will see significant activation through many media channels," he says.

Although the "G-Force" partnership with the studio is limited to the film and the All-Star game, Brody says the level of integration between national marketing and local teams, and with traditional and non-traditional assets, is the kind of "360-degree" program around a jewel event that MLB will look to pursue again.

Jim Gallagher, president of marketing for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, says the alliance will open the door for other marketing opportunities. "We're working with ESPN to develop a program that will ramp up and culminate with their coverage of All Star weekend and the Home Run Derby, a huge media event in its own right," he says. "We are also working with Fox to see what other opportunities there may be to increase our exposure in the broadcast. And when we know which players are actually elected to play in the All Star game, we'll be able to reveal a few more tricks we have up our sleeves as well."

Gallagher says Disney will run a "G-Force" spot in the game, and that all the studio's efforts surrounding this promotion will be co-branded with MLB.

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