What does Princess Fiona, Shrek's fairy tale heroine, do with her personal computer? Tracks auctions on YeBay.
DreamWorks Animation SKG teamed with Hewlett-Packard Co. to promote both "Shrek the Third," which hits theaters today, and computers. Their unusual marketing campaign demonstrates the lengths to which companies are going to find customers in the fragmented media landscape.
"We're witnessing a shift in entertainment consumption and how people want to immerse themselves," said Anne Globe, head of worldwide marketing and consumer products at DreamWorks.
Palo Alto-based HP featured Princess Fiona in an ad for notebook computers that began airing May 10 on television -- and on YeTube, a Shrek-inspired channel it bought on the video-sharing service YouTube.
But the YeTube channel also features other cross-promotions that use the movie's characters to subtly sell technology gear.
There's the usual YouTube fare -- but this time it's performed by Shrek characters. DreamWorks animators created videos of Prince Charming conducting a puppet show and Gingerbread Man dancing a jig. The companies made five such videos.
With little promotion, the YeTube channel had already become YouTube's most-viewed sponsored channel for the day and the week.
"It's a spoof of Hollywood to some degree," said David Roman, an HP vice president. "People are looking for an entertainment experience, so we don't want to take them straight to products."
Yet he acknowledged that once the videos appear on YouTube, the marketers lose some element of control. The video-sharing site lets viewers post comments. They can also post Shrek spoofs on YouTube (though not on YeTube).
The companies, which would not disclose the financial terms of the promotion, have a long history of working together on technology and marketing. Since 2001, HP's workstations have helped create many DreamWorks animation films, including all the Shrek movies, said Satjiv Chahil, senior vice president of global marketing for HP's personal systems group.
Last fall, Chahil and DreamWorks executives discussed including a character from Shrek in one of the computer maker's regular TV ad campaigns, which focus on the hands of celebrities as they talk about what's on their computers. Previous ads have featured clothing designer Vera Wang, high-tech executive Mark Cuban and rapper Jay-Z.
For Fiona, the first fictional character to appear in the HP ads, marketers from HP and its ad agency interviewed writers from Glendale-based DreamWorks. Chahil said the writers all had strong feelings about what Fiona would and would not have on her computer.
"They think she's a real person," Chahil said.