With big-budget movies coming up based on two of its most important properties, Houghton Mifflin Children's Books is developing multifaceted marketing campaigns to support movie tie-ins and original books tied to Zathura (due out November 11) and Curious George (tentatively set for February 10).
For the October 11 national laydown of the move tie-ins to Zathura, HM and Book Sense are sponsoring an "Oh, My Lucky Stars" sweepstakes in 500 independent bookstores, with prizes that include a U.S. Space Camp visit. NASA and Sony are working with HM to develop curriculum activities; NASA scientists along with author Chris Van Allsburg will participate in computer q&as with schools. HM will distribute retail event kits, and Mad Science, an educational performing troupe, will perform in two dozen bookstores.
HM expects the interest in Zathura to boost sales of other Van Allsburg titles, particularly Jumanji and ThePolar Express; DVDs of their film versions are coming out this year. Linda Magram, director of marketing for HM's children's division, said Houghton had learned a few things from its 2004 Polar Express tie-in program, which was similar to this year's Zathura effort. Because Polar board books did not move well, HM is skipping that format for Zathura, but it is emulating last year's successful outreach into libraries. "Libraries are looking for things like this," Magram explained.
For Curious George, a two-tiered marketing campaign will begin this fall, focusing on The Journey That Saved Curious George, a new book telling the story of Margret and H.A. Rey's escape from Paris before the Nazi invasion; author Louise Borden will speak at Jewish book fairs and other venues. Three other classic-style George books will appear, along with four new book-and-CD packs.
The January 10 national laydown for the George tie-ins will drive a second marketing push, which will include 58-copy floor displays, event kits, library promotions with the ALA and curriculum programs with the National Education Association and Universal Studios. The publisher will follow up its movie effort with spring 2007 tie-ins to PBS's Curious George TV series.
With all that marketing effort, HM has announced an additional printing of 300,000 of the original Zathura, in addition to a combined 725,000 for six movie tie-ins. It will print 50,000 additional copies of Curious George and 50,000 of a repackaged The Complete Adventures of Curious George, as well as a collective one million copies of six movie tie-ins.