Hollywood has had a long-standing love affair with the open road. At the same time, the entertainment category has long been an appealing venue for automotive advertisers.
Whether it's a classic cinematic car chase or a new ad campaign shot in Monument Valley's cinematic landscape (beloved by Western fans as a site for the John Wayne classic "Stagecoach"), both moviemakers and auto marketers have long sought the same breathtaking locations.
They're both selling the same dream: escapism. Part of the lure of buying a new car is that your vehicle will transport you from your humdrum reality to those wide, open spaces etched in our collective movie consciousness, whether it's the "Sideways" wine country or the "Transformers" desert highway. (One example of Hollywood & Detroit's mutual interests: director Michael Bay not only shot a "Transformers" action scene at Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park, he also shot car commercials along the park's roads.)
With these shared passions in mind, Fandango, the nation's leading moviegoer destination, set out to create a special section devoted to movie-inspired road trips as part of our Summer Spotlight. The site followed summer 2007's star-studded destinations, from George Clooney's Las Vegas (as seen in "Ocean's 13") to Johnny Depp's haunted shores (actually Guadalupe Beach, north of Santa Barbara, Calif.) in "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End."
The content served to excite moviegoers with behind-the-scenes access to movie shoots, photo galleries of the stars, links to exclusive videos and access to advance tickets.
Of course, we always felt that the perfect partner for our road trip feature would be an automotive advertiser, and so the Nissan Sentra was selected as the exclusive sponsor of our Summer Movie Road Trip section.
The project, helmed by Fandango marketing VP Ted Hong and marketing director Rachel Dardinski, was partially inspired by Fandango publicist Harry Medved’s travel guide to movie locations, "Hollywood Escapes," a winner of the "Travel Book of the Year" Award from the Outdoor Writers Association of California. The content was a natural fit for radio, TV, online and print publicity, since every summer, all media outlets are pursuing stories on "road trip season" and on the "summer movie season."
Hollywood talent was eager to contribute content, as it gave them a chance to promote their own summer flicks, while recalling their own favorite destinations under the heading of "My Favorite Locations." Exclusive on-location anecdotes were featured from such actors and directors as John Cusack ("1408"), Jon Voight ("Transformers"), Rachael Leigh Cook ("Nancy Drew"), Zoe Bell ("Grindhouse") Judd Apatow ("Knocked Up"), Harold Ramis ("National Lampoon's Vacation"), David S. Goyer ("The Invisible") and Garry Marshall ("Georgia Rule").
As a result of our success, Fandango has planned more synergistic content opportunities for both Halloween and the holiday movie season. We've learned that if you can deliver unique and entertaining stories to a loyal audience of moviegoers and develop content that is relevant to an advertiser's niche market, then you'll have that extra horsepower to help win the race.
Dan Mohler is VP of sales for Fandango, a unit of Comcast Interactive Media. .