Illumination & Universal Bank Big on ‘The Grinch’ With $80M Campaign

‘As Illumination and Universal’s The Grinch looks to bank at least $70M at the global box office this weekend from 4,140 theaters stateside and 23 overseas markets including the UK and Brazil, the pic is receiving an robust promotional boost from a campaign that includes 60 partners from around the globe, valued at $80M.

Promo partners are running media targeting the coveted adult and millennial demos for the pic with a majority of campaigns having kicked off last Thursday and running through the holidays. Partners are angling their campaigns with the attitude and snark of infamous Grinch, which dovetails with the studio’s marketing tenor for the Yarrow Cheney-Scott Mosier-directed animated feature.  Partners will have 15 total TV spots-six domestic, nine international-with custom animation and voice over from Benedict Cumberbatch in three spots including Ebates and 23andMe.

The 2000 campaign for Universal’s live-action Jim Carrey version of the Dr. Seuss yuletide novel was valued then at a reported $50M and The Grinch boasts a figure that is 60% greater.

First time partnerships for the studio with Grinch include Wonderful Pistachios, Ebates, Pur and China Glaze. There’s also returning Illumination partners too including as IHOP, Bloomingdales, 23andMe, General Mills, Puffs and BarkBox.

To create the custom animation and all other campaign assets for The Grinch’s brand partnerships, Universal collaborates closely with Illumination Labs, Illumination’s internal creative division that has a team of over 150 people who work out of the company’s Santa Monica headquarters and IMG Studio in Paris.

Partner specific highlights include:

Starting on Oct. 29, IHOP has been serving up a Who-ville inspired including Grinch’s Green Pancakes and mint hot chocolate. There’s also this live-action TV spot, produced by the award winning creative team at Droga5.


Ebates had a 60-second co-branded TV spot began airing on Oct 29 with a 30-second one as well, voiced by Grinch man, Benedict Cumberbatch. This is the brand’s first-ever film partnership, which also boasts a digital media buy to run alongside the TV campaign.

On Monday, Bloomingdale‘s unveiled their iconic Lexington Avenue holiday windows themed to The Grinch with a star-studded event and performance hosted by the film’s Kenan Thompson, along with a performance by Cameron Seeley.  The windows at the flagship 59th street location depict key scenes from the film and include interactive features like a Karaoke machine, photo op, and telescope into Who-Ville.  The film will also be prominently featured in Bloomingdale’s coveted Holiday Catalogue as well as in-store and on social media.

The Grinch explores his genetic curiosity in a partnership with 23andMe that launched on Nov. 1 which included a custom animated TV spot, digital media buy and digital billboard in Times Square.  As part of the promotional program, consumers get to learn more about the Grinch’s DNA-including his wellness and traits reports-and can explore his online genetic profile at the brand’s website.

China Glaze

There’s even a limited makeup collection from PÜR and China Glaze! The five-piece line of high-end makeup and skincare products from PUR intertwines the Grinch’s “Merry Whatever” attitude in gold foiling throughout the elevated packaging. The brand is also supporting the partnership with targeted PR efforts and on their social media channels. China Glaze touts a limited-edition lacquer line with  (8) shades, (3) designer nail tips and (2) nail art kits inspired by the wonder of Who-ville, fans’ hearts may grow three sizes when they try colors like Resting Grinch Face and Merry Whatever.

There’s plenty of Grinch-related Munchies as well including a Chex Merry Grinch Mix in specially marked cereal packages as well as Wonderful Pistachios which has an integrated marketing campaign “Put a Smile on Your Snackface”. The promotion includes two custom animated TV spots featuring The Grinch snacking on the nuts, an online digital campaign as well as in-store. China and France are airing the campaign online with in-store displays in Canada and Mexico.

For the first time ever, Puff’s is offering their holiday packaging to an entertainment property as The Grinch takes over tissue boxes with three unique designs dedicated to the Grinch, Max and Cindy Lou.

BARK, the world’s most dog-obsessed company, is partnering with Illumination Labs and Universal Brand Development to launch a limited edition The Grinch BarkBox. In addition to two of the toys, two bags of delicious treats, and one drool-worthy chew, every BarkBox includes an original Max’s Antler prop, whereby you can turn your dog into the ultimate side-kick.

Via Deadline

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