Eat, Pray, Shop! Movie Merchandise Grows Up


Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling 2006 memoir launched a self-discovery movement that could best be described by its full title: "Eat Pray Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia."

Although Sony Pictures has simplified the title, the ongoing search for "everything" remains an integral part of the movie release Friday -- especially if "everything" includes the slew of merchandising items, from the "I Deserve Something Beautiful" lotus petal necklace (Dogeared Jewels and Gifts, $72) to the "Only True Love Remains" organic tee (Signorelli, $45) to the official prayer beads (World Market, $4.99).

The film might be a call to action for women to live their lives passionately, but it's also a call for them to purchase the tastes, smells and luxuries that Julia Roberts enjoys onscreen through her travels. It serves as a fragrant reminder that movie merchandising, once the domain of films for teens and kids, has matured for the adult female audience.

But rather than just selling the adult equivalent of Transformers toys, the bigger task is creating an event movie that builds excitement and leads to that much-needed big opening weekend for "Love."

"It's absolutely to drive boxoffice and generate buzz," said Mark Owens, president of Norm Marshall and Associates, a global product-integration and marketing agency (which has not worked with "Love"). "What the studios are really looking for is a partnership that is going to drive viewership of the film."

Along with an entire weekend extravaganza devoted to "Love" on the HSN shopping network -- one of the campaign's biggest components -- there's a 21-day trip to "Love" locations being given away by STA Travel, trumpeted by Borders bookstores; a specialty tea line from the Republic of Tea; a "Love"-branded clothing line from Sue Wong; a fragrance collection from Fresh; signature T-shirts from Signorelli; and jewelry from Dogeared Jewels and Gifts.

Continue to next page →