Books benefiting from the release of a big-budget movie are nothing new, but the marketing blitz for Sony Pictures Entertainment's film Eat, Pray, Love has been accompanied by a huge licensing and sweepstakes effort as well. "Most of the merchandise is really tied to the book and not the movie," said Greg Economos, Sony's senior v-p, global consumer products. "The book is why our partners bought into it. The movie helps because of all the marketing and promotion behind it, but they signed on because the book had an impact on their lives." Eight deals in all have been signed for several dozen products ranging from three flavors of tea (Eat, Pray, and Love) to cocktail napkins and prayer beads.
The activity has boosted interest in the bestselling book that inspired the film, which landed in theaters August 13. "Sales have been steadily increasing on both editions [tie-in and original] for the last several weeks," said Paul Slovak, Viking publisher and author Elizabeth Gilbert's editor. "There was a gigantic spike in sales in late May after [the film's star] Julia Roberts was on Oprah, when our sales quadrupled in a week, and we've seen increases of 25% per week since the end of June." Penguin has shipped 950,000 copies of the tie-in edition in North America and 7.3 million copies of the trade paperback.
Viking has sent out 2,000 floor displays to bookstores and sold copies to Sony's key promotional partners, including shopping channel HSN, which took 5,000 (including 1,500 with signed bookplates), and retailer Cost Plus World Market, which bought 3,500. Both Borders and Barnes & Noble have front-of-store Eat, Pray, Love tables; Borders partnered with Sony and STA Travel for a travel sweepstakes, and its front-of-store table displays Gilbert's books and related titles such as Italian cookbooks. The book and movie are being promoted both in-store and online. "We had a great customer response to this book," said Larry Norton, senior v-p merchandising, adult trade and children's at Borders.
HSN aired 72 hours of Eat, Pray, Love programming starting August 6, with 400 licensed and nonlicensed items across several categories, all tied to India, Italy, and Bali. Cost Plus has in-store boutiques in its 260 stores, also with both licensed and nonlicensed products, and is hosting a travel contest in-store and online. "It's a great fit for us because, similar to the movie's character, our buyers travel the world to find inspiration from new places and different cultures," said Liz Allen, Cost Plus senior v-p marketing.
Other Eat, Pray, Love licensees include Fresh, Dogeared Jewelry, Signorelli, and Sue Wong.