Miramax Uses Web site to Promote Spy Kids

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Miramax Pictures has used a Web site and instant-win online game pieces in a branding effort to raise awareness about "Spy Kids," a children's movie that is scheduled to hit movie theatres on March 30.

Spykids.com, the movie's official Web site, "is a huge initiative for us. It's constantly changing," said Ian Schafer, director of new media, Miramax Pictures, New York. It is targeted at children age 6 to 12.

The site debuted in January. It is filled with five Shockwave video games designed to keep kids coming back to the site. Each one of the games - including one where players must navigate a submarine through shark-infested waters and another where players search for items in a maze-like dungeon-represents a mission that users must complete in order to rise through the ranks.

Once "Spy Kids"-related merchandise becomes available, the Web site will provide links to barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com and a list of other e-commerce Web sites where consumers can buy movie-related toys and books.

To draw traffic to the Web site, Miramax ran promotional games "in places where we need to be," like Disney.com, Schafer said. Special screenings were held for parents and an agreement with Epinions.com has allowed their critiques to be posted on the Epinions Web site, Schafer said.

Miramax worked with Realtime Media Inc. to run a scratch-and-win online game piece promotion. This was showcased on the Spykids.com home page and featured a "Tell-A-Friend" option so players could send invitations to play the game to as many as five friends at a time.

The scratch-and-win promotion was also featured to America Online subscribers through the AOL keyword HiC Spykids. HiC hyped the promotion by printing the keyword on the back of its kid-targeted drink boxes.

Miramax used the promotion to extend the theme of its Web site further across the Internet. "It's a supplement to what's being offered on the Web site," Schafer said.

Users click their right mouse buttons or move their cursors across the game piece to scratch off the surface and reveal their prize. Each game piece is a winner, but most pieces gave away key words that help players increase their rank on the Spykids.com Web site. Other prizes offered include a digital camera, children's computers, autographed movie posters and Spy Kids toys and books.

Schafer would not get into specifics about the success of the game piece promotion, but he did say, "It's been very successful. There have been tens of thousands of game plays," he said.

Spykids.com has collected e-mail addresses from users that registered to play the games, but Miramax will not be able to do much with these addresses because of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

Many of the children who register are under the age of 13, and COPA prohibits Miramax from contacting these children for anything not directly related to "Spy Kids." Marketers are allowed to collect only names and e-mail addresses from children under 13, Schafer said.

Miramax is not allowed to contact people from this list when it releases other children's movies. "We can only e-mail them with updates to the [Spy Kids] Web site-like when Spy Kids II comes out," he said.

If "Spy Kids" does as well this weekend as Miramax expects, Spy Kids II will go right into production, Schafer said.


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