Campbell Couldn’t Resist Uni’s Tale of Mouse and Soup

Food companies usually steer clear of associating their brands with rodents, but when it comes to Universal’s family-friendly Tale of Desperaux, Campbell Soup and Wendy’s have made an exception.

The two brands, along with Mama Rosa’s Pizza, Nutella, Borders and others are tying in with the G-rated animated film about a heroic mouse (voiced by Matthew Broderick) which is set for a Dec. 19 release.

With a weekend free of direct competitors, the film is positioned to do well, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers, Los Angeles. Of the 400 or so films to be released this year, Tale of Desperaux is one of 11 G-rated films, a lineup that includes Pixar’s Wall-E ($223 million domestic gross), Fox’s Horton Hears a Who! ($154 million) and Disney’s High School Musical 3 ($84.2 million.)

“The only thing that changes in a bad economy is the type of movies people want to see,” said Dergarabedian, who said the preference is for escapism.

Stephanie Sperber, evp of Universal Studios Partnerships, agreed that the G rating was a draw. “There’s a wholesomeness to this property,” she said. “It’s not the sort of cynical, adult-focused kid property that we’ve seen recently.”

The “sure thing” quality no doubt attracted Campbell, which rarely engages in cinematic tie-ins, but there was another draw as well: In the story, which is based on a 2003 children’s book by Kate DiCamillo, soup is a rare, verboten treat. “You can’t go wrong with a story that celebrates soup,” said Kim McGough, senior manager of integrated marketing at Campbell.  “We felt like this was a perfect opportunity.”

McGough, who has been with Campbell for three years, said she can’t remember the last time the brand tied in with a theatrical release, though Campbell’s Pepperidge Farm brand had a link to Fox’s Garfield in 2004.

Other tie-ins include:

• Wendy’s will offer Desperaux-themed premiums like a wrist guard, a castle puzzle and film-themed Kids Meal Bags.

• MaMa Rosa’s Pizza will promote the release on 1.5 million units along with co-branded floor graphics, shelf talkers, danglers and other shopper marketing media.

• One million units of Nutella will also promote the film and the brand will offer a sweepstakes with a grand prize of a screening for the winner and 150 of their friends.

• Kodak will run a mall-based program with  film-themed posters and large size floor graphics will surround the Santa Set at each participating mall.