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In a movie world dominated by franchises, Universal Pictures was launching a brand new property, Sing. 

That meant no pre-existing awareness on which to build. It starting off on the back foot: original movies tend to be outperformed by sequels at the box office by an average of 50%. 

The targets were ambitious, and it was aiming to open as the box office number one across 10 countries. On top of this, for the first time Illumination Entertainment decided to release the film across December and January, rather than the traditional summer release.  

It would be going up against Christmas blockbusters such as Star Wars: Rogue One, and another new animation, Disney’s Moana.  

But it had a great concept: creative testing showed that the idea of the film, animals competing in a talent show, drove interest because it provided a chance for fun, comedy and entertainment at the most feel-good time of year.  

Universal Pictures research showed that TV still plays a major role in advertising films to families and younger teens, thanks to its ability to cut through and drive intent. And MediaCom knew that talent shows, despite falling ratings, were still some of the highest rated TV shows in the key markets, delivering millions of impacts.  

The likes of X Factor and the Got Talent franchise are culturally relevant places which carry huge social gravitas – it knew it needed to harness their power to Universal Pictures' advantage. 


To achieve the box office target, it needed strong awareness and interest for Sing among parents, kids and general audiences.  

MediaCom's strategic solution was to leverage the concept of the film and partner with major talent shows across key markets: shows such as The Voice and X Factor would offer big cultural moments in which it could embed Sing in a natural, relevant way.  

Not only would it advertise strategically around these shows, it would activate deep integrations of Sing content and characters within the actual programmes. 

MediaCom didn’t want just a standard sponsorship association: it would make Sing part of the talent shows, using animated toolkit pieces to create fun interactions between film characters, presenters and participants. 

This approach would allow the agency to achieve a perfect thematic and tonal fit between the film and the shows, thanks to the shared theme of following dreams and the love for music and performance, together with a good dose of humour. 

This would help it stand out when it came to negotiating access, despite the fact that talent shows are sought after by advertisers with bigger budgets. 

By blending the message within talent shows, it would also reach audiences during their family entertainment time, in a relaxed frame of mind, and at a moment when parents are more likely to let themselves be gently pestered by the kids. 

It was the perfect moment to conquer their hearts with Sing. 


It put the film's key characters on stage in the biggest talent shows in six key markets: from The Voice to X Factor to Das Supertalent, there was no stopping these performers. 

In Australia it took over the X Factor finale, placing an exclusive 60” trailer in the show that was introduced by the host as well as bespoke promos. The centrepiece was a 4-minute performance by Tori Kelly, talent from the film, singing a song from the film on a Sing-branded stage.  

In Germany’s Das Supertalent it ran frame-split ads, with Sing character Gunther the pig dancing along to performances, and Sing’s Theatre Manager Buster Moon watching as a judge.  

In The Voice Spain, presenter Jesús Vázquez introduced the film to the audience and announced its release whilst surrounded by Sing characters. Similar integrations in The Voice Belgium showed presenter Maureen Louys interacting with Gunther in the studio, and in The Netherlands, viewers enjoyed a Sing-branded behind-the-scenes special. 

In the UK it ran targeted competition spots around X Factor, and bespoke character placements alongside the promos for The Voice, leveraging excitement for the new series of the show.  

The executions within each market were completely bespoke media buys. These non-standard placements provided a clear edge over other advertisers targeting the same prime-time programming using only traditional formats.  

Each integrated execution highlighted the shared theme of the musical competition while putting Sing’s characters on the biggest stages of all.  


Results for this campaign remain confidential at the client's request.

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