'Night' Moves: Campaign Promotes DC, Tie-Ins With Major Brands

Washington, D.C./Night At The Museum Obama isn't the capital's only draw. Destination DC, a not-for-profit marketing group that promotes Washington, D.C., is hoping to boost tourism with a campaign tying the Smithsonian Institution and other area attractions to a new 20th Century Fox motion picture, "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," in which they serve as major set pieces.

The advertising and promotional campaign seeks to get people to visit D.C. by focusing on locations featured in the movie and offering themed hotel packages and special evening programs.

The film features Ben Stiller as an inventor night watchman who battles a pharaoh over an Egyptian tablet. The movie takes Stiller to a variety of National Mall museums.

Destination DC put the locations on Washington.org, and in 65,000 print brochures produced in collaboration with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Visitors to the movie-themed site can learn about locations featured in the movie, book hotel packages and find ideas for planning eventful moonlit nights in D.C.

The company also ran promotions with "National Treasure" and its sequel, but the organization says this is a bigger enterprise, as it involves partnerships with major national brands tied to the movie. The organization is coordinating airfare and accommodations for two separate major consumer brand promotions. Destination DC partnered with Post Cereals -- which has an advertising campaign based on the film -- and United Airlines and the Grand Hyatt Washington for travel packages.

Post is talking up trip giveaways in 30-second television ads, online at WinASmithsonianSleepover.com and on 17 million cereal boxes. The promotion includes a sweepstakes offering five grand prizes of a sleepover for six people at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

A deal with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese dangles 10 prizes of family sleepovers at the Air and Space Museum. JetBlue Airways partnered with Destination DC in its first national consumer promotion with a tourism bureau to provide the airline tickets for prizewinners and their families. Winners and their families will stay in rooms provided by Washington Marriott Wardman Park.

Ads will also run for four weeks at theaters in top feeder markets, including New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh, N.C., and D.C.'s Maryland and Virginia suburbs. A full-page ad in USA Today's Northeast region and search engine marketing and optimization will round out Destination DC's investment in the promotion.

Victoria Isley, senior vice president, marketing for Destination DC, says the film features the Air and Space, Smithsonian Castle and the American History Museums, as well as "other attractions like the Lincoln Memorial, where Lincoln himself comes to life."

She says the group has also aligned twilight tours to the movie theme, "in terms of the city coming to life at night." Information is at Washington.org/night, which shows which museums have after-hours programs.

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