Zippo Lights Up Online for Hollywood-Themed Product

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Seeking to bolster its status as an American icon, Zippo Manufacturing Co. will again take to the Internet to promote its Hollywood's Leading Light collectible lighter.


The Bradford, PA, company will use a combination of banners, e-mails and sweepstakes to push the $44.95 lighter, 10th in a series of limited-edition collectibles of the year.


Targeting consumers age 18 to 30 and collectors age 35 to 54, the effort by ad agency Blattner Brunner, Pittsburgh, leverages Zippo's longstanding association with Hollywood. The Zippo lighter has been featured in more than 800 movies since 1932.


"In many of them, it's not just a prop," said Pat Grandy, marketing communications manager at Zippo. "Often the lighter has a role in the film, and because of that the plot changes."


Launched this year in gold dust finish, the Hollywood's Leading Light lighter has a pink terrazzo star. This is a replica of the stars that grace the Hollywood Walk of Fame in tribute to the movie industry's leading actors and actresses.


Banners for the lighter kicked off Friday on the Internet Movie Database at imdb.com. Owned by Amazon.com Inc., imdb.com is one of the most popular sites in its genre. It receives 5.3 million unique visitors a month on average.


One banner takes a knock at California's electricity crisis. To the fizzle of an electrical short, the famed Hollywood sign in the Hollywood hills goes dark. Zippo then lights it up.


"Impervious to rolling blackouts. Zippo," the banner's copy reads.


There are six banners in all, running through August.


Later this week e-mails will go out to 100,000 consumers who are collectors and 11,000 people who have just started collecting memorabilia. Both sets of consumers expressed interest in Hollywood.


Names were rented from New York-based 24/7 Media's files of double opt-in consumers. E-mails will drop twice, with the next push in mid-July.


The banners and e-mails link to zippo.com, which has been redesigned with a Hollywood flavor. The home page shows silhouettes of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley -- all featured on special Hollywood Legends lighters.


Similarly themed lighters include the Hollywood Icons. These products have images of the Hollywood sign, the Walk of Fame stars with searchlights, icons on the Walk of Fame stars and a clapboard. Another series has rock art by Stanley Mouse wrapped around the lighters.


On the same Hollywood-themed Web location, visitors are encouraged to enter a Stars of Hollywood sweepstakes. Prizes include a Zippo film library and a home theater system.


The Hollywood push comes fresh on the heels of a Father's Day effort. Zippo partnered with Things Remembered, a Cleveland multichannel retailer of personalized gifts, for an e-mail campaign to drive traffic to Zippo's site. The companies claimed a click-through rate of 5 percent.


In September and October, Zippo will partner with the World Wrestling Federation to promote lighters with wrestlers' images. Zippo will be featured on WWF's Sunday Night Heat television broadcasts and will get a mini-site within wwf.com.


Banners, buttons and a full-page ad in the WWF magazine will support the promotion. While seeking to drive traffic to zippo.com, the deal also is a database-building measure to collect e-mail addresses.


Zippo recently ran an Eyeblaster ad that shows an outstretched hand lighting a darkening screen with a Zippo flame. The ad ran on inventory provided by Phase2Media on sites such as The Sporting News, SpeedVision, Premiere magazine, and Car and Driver.


Zippo is sensitive that it might be accused of pushing youngsters to smoke by encouraging sales of lighters through efforts such as the Hollywood and WWF themes.


"We're positioning the Zippo [lighter] as not something that's a smoking tool, but just a cool accessory that you would want to have to light your candles or simply collect," said Diane Cencarik, online marketing manager at Blattner Brunner.


Zippo's Grandy agreed.


"Our whole kind of push is to say it's Hollywood and Zippo's a cool part of it," Grandy said. "And part of that is to reach this younger audience -- new entrants, generations X and Y -- to pull them into purchasing Zippo lighters as the real and genuine source of a portable flame."


Research conducted for Zippo shows that consumers identify its lighter as a national icon. There are 4 million Zippo collectors in the United States, according to the manufacturer's estimates.


"We're not targeting people that are underage, and we're not going to," said Mary Kay Modaffari, vice president of client services at Blattner Brunner. "It's a whole different approach because people see this product as American, as part of that heritage."


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