AOL Plans Pack of Mobile Promotions for 'Cry_Wolf'

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America Online Inc. is participating in an interactive mobile marketing campaign for "Cry_Wolf," a teen horror thriller from NBC Universal's Rogue Pictures hitting theaters nationwide Sept. 16.


The campaign includes product integration with DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group, a mobile instant messaging trivia game, a moviemaking blog and a multiplayer game called Cry_Wolf the Game.


"It's [mainly] to drive mobile adoption of AIM on handsets," Christine Loredo, senior marketing manager at AOL, Dulles, VA, said of her company's involvement.


AOL's AIM and AOL Buddy List mobile platforms are the most popular instant messaging services, with 54.3 million users in July out of the total 81.7 million estimated by Nielsen//NetRatings. But it will face increasing pressure from the new Google Talk IM as well as bolstered efforts from MSN and Yahoo.


A quid pro quo deal with NBC Universal, the "Cry_Wolf" tie-in makes extensive use of mobile and desktop marketing. Take the mobile trivia game AOL created to seed the movie's twin themes of intrigue and deception. The game was promoted in "Cry_Wolf" trailers shown during "House of Wax" screenings.


Participation in the game requires mobile AIM users to text their screen name to CWOLF (the numbers 29653). Players receive up to four horror-themed questions weekly. Instant winners get ring tones, mobile wallpapers or movie tickets.


Also, 10 grand-prize winners snare a trip to Los Angeles for a special movie screening with "Cry_Wolf" director Jeff Wadlow and his cast. One of those 10 will win a Chrysler Crossfire car. Sept. 8 is the sweepstakes deadline.


The mobile AIM trivia game from Sept. 9 onward converts into an instant messaging feature for mobile AIM users. This continues their relationship with the movie. For example, users who send IMs to AIMCRYWOLF can get movie showtimes or vote in polls for favorite characters. They also can rank themselves on a "Scared-o-Meter" of how scared they were during the movie.


Supporting that is Cry_Wolf the Game. Created by AOL, this casual, Mafia-like multiplayer strategy game on www.crywolfgame.com is designed to pull fans into a web of guile and deceit. The game pits two groups of players, sheep versus wolves, against one another in a chat-centered contest for survival.


AOL is advertising the game on the AIM Today welcome screen and the AIM Buddy List, along with editorial promotions in the same places.


Finally, "Cry_Wolf's" director is building buzz around the movie by posting behind-the-scenes blog entries every few days on http://journals.aol.com/wadlowwolf/CryWolfBlog/.


"Cry_Wolf" was born when Wadlow won the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival, a yearlong movie competition devised by Chrysler. Wadlow got $1 million to make "Cry_Wolf" after negotiating a series of film tasks and creating his winning script.


Wadlow chose his home state of Virginia as the movie's location. He signed on AOL for product integration in this movie about high school seniors who spread rumors online and through IM about a serial killer called "The Wolf" until their game of lies turns horrifyingly real.


The movie's site is www.crywolfmovie.com.


AOL's Loredo said the movie benefits by associating with AIM because of the audience delivered: tech-savvy teens relying on IM as an integral part of their daily communications with friends. It also marks a milestone for AIM.


"It's really the first time our company has been able to leverage a studio's assets for mobile marketing and vice versa," she said.


Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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