King’s Hawaiian, the maker of dinner rolls and Hawaiian inspired barbeque sauces, is releasing a full-length film in theatres which incorporates some of their branded products. “The Legend of Hallowaiian” was originally available on DirecTV for $9.99 before hitting select theatres on October 18.
The privately-owned company started looking for unique marketing techniques four years ago, including how to market their seasonal inspired recipes. The company came up with a storyline for their Halloween inspired treats, which later became a full-length feature film.
The storyline of the film is about a trio of friends in Hawaii who accidentally release a pineapple-headed monster on their island. The 82-minute film also features the voices of celebrities such as Vanessa Williams, Tia Carrere and Hamill. The company did not promote their branded rolls in their marketing efforts for this movie. Instead, they featured their rolls in the movie itself ̶ on Halloween, a home hands out King’s Hawaiian rolls instead of candy and they are mentioned a few more times in the film.
This unique marketing tactic comes as food companies are looking for new ways to connect with their target demographics. Whether it’s through social media connection, television ads, face-to-face promotion or in this case, through film. King’s Hawaiian used the movie, in-store displays and online recipe promotions to get people thinking about their products this Halloween season ̶ and it worked.
After the movie launch, King’s Hawaiian experienced a growth in their in-store sales and distribution this month. The company’s CMO Erick Dickens told AdAge that they are already considering doing a second film, either a sequel to the first or a new storyline.
“It’s more successful for the bread business than we had anticipated,” said Dickens, in regards to the company’s sales at retail, retailers supporting the displays and incremental shipments to retailers.
This isn’t the first major marketing investment the company has made in the past few years. Almost two year ago, King’s Hawaiian ran a commercial during the Super Bowl, a marketing spot that is estimated to be worth around five million dollars per 30-second slot. Nevertheless, the company claims to earn around $400 million to $500 million in annual sales. Dicken refused to discuss the specific financial investments the company made for marketing their movie.
“We were able to keep costs quite low,” he told AdAge. “We limited our spend on the project to an amount we felt confident would pay back on the project itself.”
Similar marketing initiatives have been made by other major food companies such as Pepsi, who is known to have entertaining commercials that feature major movie stars and performers. The beverage company spent $2.4 billion on product advertising in 2017.
Another company that advertised their products through animated cartoons is JELL-O. In August, the maker of flavored gelatin products recently released an animated kids series in partnership with DreamWorks TV. The JELL-O Wobz is a five-episode short series that is available on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.
These marketing initiatives come as consumers are looking to connect with brands. Video series and films are a great way to tie a storyline to certain products. This, in turn, will make products more memorable just as characters from films are. King’s Hawaiian’s kids film likely stands out to children which is why the company is finding such success during this season.