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<I>Balto II</I> Marketing Includes School Campaign

14 Jan, 2002 By: Jessica Wolf

Following in the direct-to-video serial footsteps of Universal Studios Home Video's successful "Land Before Time" and "Beethoven" series is Balto II: Wolfquest, which streets Feb. 19 (prebook Jan. 15) on VHS ($13.95) and DVD ($19.95). Universal is supporting the sequel to the original 1996 theatrical and video release with a broad marketing campaign that focuses on the target family audience and the widespread public interest in, and sensitivity to, hero stories.

Universal has put together a national school education campaign in conjunction with the release and is sponsoring a "Hometown Hero" essay contest. Kids can enter a writing sample that tells a story about a personal hero from their own life or community at universalkids.com and entry forms will be provided on in-store merchandisers. Five winners will get a family trip to Universal Studios Hollywood or Florida, Universal will donate $50,000 worth of books to the winners' schools, and winning essays will be considered for publication in Nickelodeon Magazine.

The campaign plays to the movie's theme, which teams Balto with his daughter for an all-new adventure in which the two animals learn to accept their mixed identity as part-dogs, part-wolves. Balto II features the voices of Mark Hamill, David Carradine and Lacey Chabert.

"What makes Balto so special is that he is a real American hero that children can identify with," USHV senior VP of marketing Ken Graffeo said. "The theme resonates with home viewers and lends itself to topical dialogue at home and in the classroom. Our goal is to stimulate conversation and reinforce positive role models in these uncertain times when kids are so easily influenced by current events."

Universal has also created the Balto Community Outreach Program. The studio will donate Balto fund money to 10 schools in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Students at the chosen schools will use the money to create service projects in their communities.

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