1 Million Rich E-Mails, 4 Web Sites Aim to Make 'Rock Star' a Hit

This week's rich media e-mail drop for the Warner Brothers film “Rock Star” is the latest in a series of online marketing efforts that have generated awareness for the movie's Sept. 7 release.

Along with the drop to more than 1 million names, Warner Brothers is hosting four Web sites and a “Rock Star Groupie Bot,” which lets Instant Messenger users add “Rock Star” guides Nina and Samantha to their buddy list. The two characters notify participating IM users when eight songs from the movie are released sporadically on various sites and list several other “Rock Star” promotions and links.

Another AOL Instant Messenger feature, AIM Today, lets users choose from various “Rock Star” links, including one that allowed them to post their photos under a section called “Do You Look Like a Rock Star?”

“This new tool was the third-highest traffic generator to the main 'Rock Star' site,” said Don Buckley, senior vice president, interactive marketing for Warner Brothers.

For the e-mail drop, a majority of the names came from WB Movie Mail, a bimonthly mailing to about 500,000 movie fans, along with other Warner Brothers' entertainment e-mail lists. This was augmented with lists from entertainment sites and third-party providers, which Buckley declined to name.

The primary target demographic for the R-rated film starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston is both sexes, ages 17 to 24. Though Warner Brothers partnered with “hundreds” of sites to promote the film, marketing executives avoided sites with an under-17 audience of more than 35 percent.

The online marketing was multi-faceted and more intensive than for other films, Buckley said, because of the dual target audience: music fans and a general audience.

In addition to broad ad buys, Warner Brothers worked with individual music, entertainment and portal sites to develop promotions tailored to the site. For example, MSN's entertainment site includes a “Rock Star” photo puzzle game.

“We have two full-time publicists and one college market specialist who work editorially with many sites,” Buckley said.

Of Warner Brothers' Web sites for the film, the main site and Rock Star Karaoke, http://rockstarkaraoke.oddcast.com, have been most popular. The main site drew about 400,000 unique visitors and the karaoke site boasted 50,000 user sessions in August.

On the karaoke site, Oddcast's technology lets users sing along with songs from the movie, record the songs and e-mail their performances to friends. Fans can vote on the best performances. Warner Brothers is tracking the viral response, but does not have final numbers.

Other sites include Steel Dragon, http://steeldragon.launch.com, the name of a fictional band in the movie, and Blood Pollution, http://bloodpollutionrules.com, named after another band in the film.

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