Rent-A-TRON: Enterprise Hitches a Ride With Disney

Anyone paying attention to the video campaign for Marvel's latest MCU entry Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 may have noticed Enterprise Rental brand co-piloting many of these spots. And if you're visiting one of Disney's theme parks, for instance, in the coming months, and take the hair-raising TRON coaster ride, you'll see Enterprise baked into multiple stages of that experience.

These integrations are part of a multiyear partnership between Enterprise Holdings and Marvel’s parent company, Disney. But other than drafting off of entertainment IP to get attention, what makes these alliances of entertainment marketing with other consumer brands tick? How do brands make the most of tie-ins? And what needles are they designed to move for a brand like Enterprise that is already at least as recognizable as its entertainment partner? 



Kyle Sanborn, Vice President of Global Brand Strategy and Marketing Activation at Enterprise Holdings joined Brand Insider this week to help me better understand the strategy and tactics of driving shotgun with blockbuster IP. 

MediaPost: At the highest level, what is the general affinity between Enterprise Holdings and Disney? 

Sanborn: Well, our company's vision is to be the world's best and most trusted mobility company. And so, as we think about partnerships and ways to advertise around that to bring that forward, Disney made perfect sense. TRON really talks about the future, mobility inherently built into the ride, and the story itself. And so, that led us to that path to take advantage of that attraction.

MP: The Guardians of the Galaxy promo is called the “Around the corner. Across the galaxy” campaign. What can this spot tell us about how to do an integration like this? It seems at first look, like a simple weave of movie highlights and Enterprise rental clips. But there is a story here. How do you think about a spot like this, and what you need to get in there, and how you're making it work? 

Sanborn: Well, at the heart of any good partnership or integration you have synergies. What are you collectively trying to achieve? And you think about the amazing IP of Guardians of the Galaxy, and that Marvel has, and the affinity that they've built with fans around the globe. The Guardians are a team just like Enterprise is a team, and so we pulled off that team aspect of them saving the universe, us helping customers, and really brought that to life in a fun way that's entertaining, hopefully sticky, and everyone can really see that there's continuity in why this partnership is there.

MP: How important is follow through? We know that any film launch like this gives a burst of high intensity, high frequency advertising in the weeks running up to it. What happens after that? 

Sanborn: So, Guardians was one component of a blitz of Enterprise activity going on. We used Guardians as a bridge between two campaigns. We had a campaign for Enterprise running for two years. This was a bridge of time that helped keep us relevant, that can clear the air and allow us to swap out campaign aspects specifically to Enterprise in other places. So that created a bridge for us as a gap in time of a six-week window basically where we could keep the pressure on, stay in market yet be able to transition. 

Guardians had multiple touch points. So, there are TV campaigns, digital video, we do a lot of targeting with nonlinear TV as well as social and digital components, where we leverage our Disney partnership and some of their audiences as well as our direct audiences with email. So, there were a lot of touch points to this that we could use. And now we're at that point of just this week launching a new campaign as Guardians sunsets because of that promotional window, and we pick up with a new campaign from there.

MP: A very different integration is in the TRON Lightcycle Ride. In the actual roller coaster ride, there are a lot of intricate integrations of the Enterprise brand. I mean, there are branded cars that you can get on that are actually a little more harrowing or faster, there’s signage and different types of engagement throughout the process. You are working on a very different scale and time horizon here compared to Guardians.

Sanborn: TRON ties back to us as being the mobility leader. You think about the future of mobility and what TRON stands for, for generations. This has longevity from the 70s forward. It brings us a chance to be relevant with new fans, audiences, and families at Disney, kids who've never heard of TRON. So, we can be relevant in a different way. And to your point, Enterprise is throughout the ride. We're at the marquee when you walk up, our “E” is throughout the experience as you go through the lines and get to the Lightcycle themselves. As you exit, we have an entire exit room that highlights team green. 

Disney is great, because they went back into the archives, found actual team green in the comic books that exists and brought this to life for us with our direction and collaboration to create this team green where we have a set of characters. You can take pictures with a green Lightcycle that's life size that you just rode on, that has the “E” in it. So, a real fun experience that gives us a chance to talk about the future of mobility and Enterprise at the heart of leading that in a fun way. So, there's characters, for example, a customer experience architect named Ron. There's a blurb about him or her leading exceptional support both on and off the grid, and so that hits on customer service or leadership and mobility through a set of characters, and we can rotate those out. We have twelve of them, and I think four at a time are featured.

MP: So, let's pull back again and tie this into the larger portfolio mix. For instance, you mentioned that you just dropped a new campaign called “For Lives In Drive.” How do the entertainment partnerships integrate in the broader portfolio of marketing? 

Sanborn: “For Lives In Drive” was born out of the consumer insight that lives are busier than ever. I think things that happen through COVID have kept up with us, being able to communicate anywhere, anytime, be on, call, work anywhere. And so, lives are hectic, and they're not slowing down, and the need to have someone, an entity like Enterprise in this instance, that is there for you to help make your life easier is what this campaign is about. So, your life is in drive and Enterprise is right there along with you. And so, the campaign itself highlights the portfolio of Enterprise offerings from car rental and different forms of car rental business, leisure, replacement, as well as selling cars and leasing cars and things like that. So, we encompass the portfolio but really in a way that showcases why that's important to the customers and how that makes their life easier.

That campaign sits at the core of some of our efforts, and we're looking at global continuity of this campaign. So, we're doing testing now to understand any adaptation for international markets outside of the US and Canada to bring continuity to the brand and our advertising efforts around the globe. And that ties into other touch points. So, NHL playoffs are going on right now, and you'll see “For Lives In Drive” tied into that message. We will use that throughout multiple touch points, including our partnerships.

MP: Let's circle back on Disney again and lean forward into holiday next year. How do you get involved in this process and at what point? 

Sanborn: It does take a lot of forward thinking. You need to collaborate early on long term goals and objectives. Nothing that I can share about what's coming in the future. But to your point about holidays, we work with Disney to think about seasonal activity. When do we need business? When do they need business? How are we now even relating the partnership to business? It's more about driving affinity, and there's all these different touch points. And you mentioned the convenience of the Enterprise brand road trips is a huge component. A family road trip to Disney is as nostalgic as it gets, and there are times in the year where we can promote that and push that. And so, we work with them on when and what are the driving distances. They have great data for us to work with and help guide where some of their folks come from, and why, and we can help use that to market effectively. As far as big promotional things, the next Guardians, or something like that from a movie franchise, those come a year plus out. We work with the various studios within Disney to talk about what are their slates and programming for the next few seasons. It helps us identify the right fit, because it's so key to have the messaging on both sides and to have a thread that really ties it all together. 

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