The Power of Marketing Synergy for Promotional Media Tie-Ins
“Movie tie-in edition” or “TV tie-in edition” (sometimes simply referred to as a “movie tie-in” or a “TV tie-in”) as it relates to book publishing is a book whose jacket, packaging, contents, or promotion relates to a feature film or a television show, respectively.
Promotional Tie-Ins and Marketing Synergy
The relationship of a movie or TV show to a book, or vice versa, creates a marketing synergy between the book and the film (or television series) to which it relates. In the best-case scenario, the film/show and the book each helps to expand the audience of the other.
Here are a few types of tie-ins and how they work:
Movies and TV
Movies or TV shows related to bestselling books (such as the feature films made from Kathryn Stockett’s The Help or Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series—or HBO’s True Blood television series based on the novels of Charlaine Harris) bring passionate fans of the story into theater seats or to the initial Nielsen ratings. Even classic works and their films (such as Whit Stillman's Love and Friendship based on Jane Austen's Lady Susan) can benefit from synergies.
Having hoards of book club members, teenage fans, or Janeites showing up the opening weekend or watching the premiere is especially important to boost box office numbers or audience levels and jumpstart the film’s or series’ success with word-of-mouth. In a media marketplace that must increasingly compete for eyeballs, any level of head start into audience recognition is important.
For the book, the publicity surrounding a feature film release or the launch of a new TV show helps spread the word of the source material and opens the book to new audiences who might have otherwise not considered reading it.
Conversely, books can be developed from popular media in order to exploit, expand, and/or otherwise capitalize on the popularity of the source material. These range from novels (like the X-Files series of books), fan books (Star Wars and Star Trek spawned many of these), or even cookbooks (Blue Bloods, The Sopranos).
One brilliant stroke of TV tie-in genius and corporate media synergy was executed when ABC TV sister company Hyperion Books developed and launched a series of novels by “Richard Castle,” the titular (and fictional) novelist who is the main character of the ABC mystery series Castle.
The visual relationship between the film or television show and the book is important, especially at the bookseller level, when customers who might not have been aware of the existence of the book can happen upon it by recognizing the familiar book title or artwork on the jacket.
For that reason, tie-in editions are re-jacketed to reflect the marketing campaign of the related film or TV show. This happened with the paperback version of Washington's Spies, which was designed to tie in closely with the AMC series Turn, which was based on the book.
When the stars of the screen are hugely popular, the most "selling" jacket tie-in will incorporate photos of the film’s stars (the Twilight series is a good example of this). There is usually a rights negotiation and fees involved in the publisher’s use of the movie artwork. In the case where the material is in the public domain and many publishers print essentially identical copies of the content, a particular publishing house will negotiate the with film producers for the exclusive rights to use the movie tie-in artwork.
If the book is popular already, re-jacketing a book with the artwork from a new movie can prolong sales. For a backlist book, the movie tie-in edition brings consumer attention to an older title by relating it to something that is currently in the media and being actively promoted.
While the substance of the film might be condensed or expanded from the source material (as was the case with Brokeback Mountain, a short story by Annie Proulx), the movie tie-in edition acknowledges the roots of the story and can bring new readers to it.
Significantly for publishers’ profit margins, a tie-in to a very popular media property can command a premium price; in the case of Brokeback Mountain, the individual short story was pulled out of a collection, packaged by itself with the art from the film, and priced at $9.95 for its 64 pages.
Tie-Ins by Association
Books might tie in more loosely with the release of a film or television show, but still feel the sales benefit of a film release or major television event. For example, a biopic movie about a famous figure generates interest in learning more about that person and, consequently, boosts biography sales.