Lions Gate, Starbucks Remind You How to Spell Akeelah

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The promotions leading up to the April 28th opening of Lions Gate’s film “Akeelah and the Bee” may seem somewhat tame, but Lions Gate has roped in a big player to promote the film online and off: Starbucks. For this inspirational film about an inner-city girl who competes in the national spelling bee, Lions Gate has created an engaging microsite for the film where Flash animation seamlessly floats from one image to the next. The site offers movie goers the chance to play games, view the trailer, hear the soundtrack, and send e-cards to their friends with a specific spelling word on it. The Akeelah landing page also includes a special section, http://www.beeconnected.us/, where fans can share their experiences about participating in a spelling bee, seeing the film, or subscribe to the film’s blog.

And stamped at the bottom of the site pages is the Starbucks Entertainment logo.

Although Lions Gate’s online campaign for “Akeelah” may not appear as ambitious as New Line’s “Take the Lead” campaign that I covered a couple of weeks ago, Starbucks has been promoting the film like crazy in its retail stores with a small mention on its website. All promotional items in the store–including coasters, cup holders, and stickers plastered all over the windows–drive traffic to Starbucks’ page by “changing the world one word at a time” and enticing coffee drinkers to view the trailer and listen to the soundtrack via Starbuck’s site.

The page on Starbucks’ site is simple, but perhaps too much so. I wonder how much traffic the page actually drives to the “Akeelah” site and whether Starbucks customers have taken the time to visit either of the sites to check out the movie. I am guessing the online Starbucks cross-promotion has not paid off, while the in-store promotion and pre-screening for baristas will do wonders at the box office. Starbucks also sells the film’s soundtrack and will distribute the DVD when it is released.

One must not ignore the “warm and fuzzy” image that Starbucks also receives through its association with such a wholesome film. Starbucks’ page promotes the film with the statement, “Akeelah and the Bee is a story that reflects the values of creativity, community, hope and perseverance which we at Starbucks hold dear. We encourage you to see this truly worthwhile film with your family and friends.” So even if “Akeelah” doesn’t hit a home run with its online marketing, at least Lions Gate has gotten the word out through the king of the coffee world.

Spell “Campaign” at: http://www.akeelahandthebee.com/splash.html

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