Product/ServiceDISNEY'S CARS 3
Category A09. Media / Entertainment
Entrant OMD Hamburg, GERMANY
Idea Creation OMD Hamburg, GERMANY
Media Placement OMD Hamburg, GERMANY
Name Company Position
Simone Reifferscheid OMD Germany Deputy Director Client Service
Janina Rauch OMD Germany Senior Executive Client Service (Digital)
Agata Frank OMD Germany Group Manager Activation (Digital)
Johanna Pfeiffer The Walt Disney Company GSA Chief Marketing Officer
Julia Wildförster The Walt Disney Company GSA Marketing Manager
Claudia Radeck The Walt Disney Company GSA Manager Content Marketing
Regina Mörtl The Walt Disney Company GSA Senior Manager Central Media Unit

Why is this work relevant for Media?

Our objective was to ensure that Disney’s latest movie release “Cars 3” outraces its main competitor at the cinema box office in Germany: LEGO’s Ninjago. Two entertainment Goliaths for kids aiming at the very same target audience, but only one can win the box office battle. We uncovered that LEGO’s biggest thought “owned media advantage” is their biggest flaw in Germany as German law prohibits LEGO movie placements within LEGO content. Leveraging this insight to consequently shaping our media strategy and multichannel planning ultimately led to Cars 3 winning the race for German boys’ choice at the box office.


Families with kids go to the movies far less frequently than the German average: 84% visit the cinemas only once every three months. And they rarely make spontaneous decisions when it comes to their quarterly day at the movies. Thus, positioning a new film aiming at boys’ attention is especially difficult requiring persistence and good timing even if it is part of a globally acclaimed franchise. To complicate things for Disney’s Cars 3, a sequel to the successful animated racing car movie, the LEGO Ninjago animated feature film was set to be released just a week earlier. A classic battle of giants ensues for the attention of a target audience eager to see both movies, but in reality picking one: We knew, it was either Cars 3 or LEGO Ninjago. But never both. And our competitor put us into a difficult situation with their advantageous release date.

Describe the creative idea/insights

Being so dominant in the kids’ market, LEGO has the perfect owned touchpoints to address the young decision makers: a LEGO Ninjago TV show broadcast nationwide, magazines and several digital formats. Sounds like an unbeatable advantage even for a household name like Disney. But, thanks to German law, this advantage is also LEGO’s biggest flaw: law doesn’t permit brands the usage of their owned formats for advertisement purposes, as kids might not be able to distinguish between content and advertising. Knowing this, we turned the local legal restriction into our biggest advantage for selecting affine touchpoints. We needed to punch earlier and in a smart way to make it to the top of boys’ “must see movies” list. Therefore, campaign planning was led by three principles…

Describe the strategy

Timeliness. We started the campaign earlier than usual for movie releases, allowing us to build up anticipation towards Cars 3 and fight the earlier release date of LEGO Ninjago. Exploiting the competitor’s thought strength: We consistently relied on LEGO Ninjago formats across all channels, successfully piggybacking the brand’s tremendous nationwide reach in the target group and attuning kids to Cars 3, increasing preference and consideration. The usage of data. TV does not offer the same targeting options in Germany as other markets already do and German law prohibits targeting children with online advertising directly. Thus, we had to take a detour: we analyzed the thematic interests of the LEGO Ninjago TV show and online video viewership to determine valuable media environments and placements – and based the wider selection of affine environments and placements on these learnings with an environmental targeting strategy.

Describe the execution

Instead of creating a movie launch campaign drawing on Disney’s vast global experience in targeting kids, we consistently used the local regulations to our advantage. For TV we launched custom spots around the LEGO Ninjago show ensuring maximal attention of the viewers. Besides, our analyses of thematic interests gave us a selection of placements that ensured additional TV reach in the target group and a decrease of waste of media budget. Our digital planning relied on the same principles. We placed prerolls preceding the trailers of our competitor: Whenever our target watched a LEGO Ninjago Trailer, or otherwise affine videos they saw the Cars 3 trailer ad first. Further, we used affinity analyses of the fandom, identifying additional placements and increasing visibility with our environment targeting approach. Print ads in the LEGO Ninjago magazine further increased the dominance of Cars 3 right in the heart of our competitors’ touchpoints.

List the results

Cars 3 wins the race: our strategy relying on local insights and the unique regulation typical only for Germany coupled with smart planning brought the movie 79% more visitors than the share earned by LEGO Ninjago.