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Universal Pictures places mobile at center of movie marketing strategy

NBC Universal Inc.?s Universal Pictures and Rogue Pictures are using mobile to create buzz for "MacGruber," a comedy film that hits theaters May 21.

The entertainment giant launched an application for Apple?s iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to promote the movie. The MacGruber application features the Bomb Defuser game, the Mullet Generator photo tool, a soundboard with lines from the film, ringtones, wallpapers, a plot synopsis and a video trailer.

?MacGruber is an iconic character on Saturday Night Live, but only has the chance to be on screen for a short amount of time in a given episode,? said Ben Blatt, manager of digital marketing at Universal Pictures, Universal City, CA.

?The feature film expands on the character as an action hero, but more importantly on the comedy,? he said. ?This app is a chance to bring existing fans of the character and a new audience into the world of MacGruber and showcase just how hilarious the character can be.

?We allow people to personalize themselves with the iconic MacGruber mullet, play a very addicting game and have endless laughs with the soundboard and ringtones, most of which were specially recorded for this app.?

Universal Studios, a subsidiary of NBC Universal, is one of the six major American movie studios. Its main motion picture production/distribution arm is called Universal Pictures.

Rogue Pictures is a division of Relativity Media.

MacGruber is a feature film comedy starring Ryan Phillippe, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer, Will Forte and Maya Rudolph.

Universal app
The MacGruber application is available as a free download in the App Store.

?After downloading and spending a few minutes with the app the user will have the chance to fully engage with the character and get a good feel for how funny he is and how promising the film will be,? Mr. Blatt said.

?The strategy is then to provide this app free of charge and let the content speak for itself as people get the opportunity to know the MacGruber character and get excited to see the film when it debuts in May,? he said.

?Free mobile content is a great way to get people interested in a brand because for the most part the mobile space has proven to be a medium unlike the Web where users are willing to pay for the vast majority of content they consume.?

The goal of providing mobile content free of charge is to get consumers engaged with the film?s brand, keep the release date top of mind, encourage viral spread and word-of-mouth recommendations and ultimately encourage people to buy tickets to see the film.

?Based on that fact when we can produce high-quality and engaging content and provide it to consumers for free not only are they going to jump at the opportunity to have well produced content to play with, but we also are hopefully getting them interested in our films in an engaging way,? Mr. Blatt said.

The target demographic of the film and the application is males 18-34.

?The movie is an action comedy and the humor skews more male but the female audience will love the film as well and we are targeting them in our marketing efforts,? Mr. Blatt said.

Universal and Rogue Pictures are getting the word out about the MacGruber mobile application by connecting with their audience through various social networking channels and using mobile and online media to help promote it.  

?There will be mobile advertising to promote the app directly and as we get closer to release there will also be a mobile campaign that more directly applies to awareness for the film,? Mr. Blatt said.

?We will be working with a variety of ad networks and direct buys that are still being negotiated,? he said.