Camped in a prime spot right on the red carpet, the RV industry was well represented earlier this week for the world premiere of “Toy Story 4,” the Disney/Pixar movie that features Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang embarking on a road trip in a Class C motorhome.
The Go RVing Coalition has partnered with Disney/Pixar for the movie, officials said, which among other marketing opportunities included having a specially outfitted Winnebago Navion on the red carpet for the movie’s star-studded premiere at the El Capitan Movie Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.
“The premiere was wonderful, and they did it up in true Toy Story fashion. In the movie, the RV park is next to a carnival so the movie lot and the after-party were all in decked out in a carnival theme,” said Go RVing Coalition Vice President of Communications Karen Redfern.
“And the entire movie was fantastic,” she continued. “The RV is literally part of the movie from beginning to end. It really becomes the set for the entire story. It’s referred to as an RV throughout. Obviously, we partnered up with one of the top family-friendly businesses in the world. Disney is all top-notch quality. We couldn’t ask for better partners from that standpoint. It will be fantastic family entertainment with this movie, and everything about the content of the movie and the use of the RV was just spot on.”
Redfern was joined at the premiere by Courtney Bias and Dana DelVecchio from Go RVing, RV Industry Association (RVIA) Chairman Garry Enyart of Cummins Inc., RVIA Interim President and Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and General Counsel Craig Kirby, Go RVing Co-Chair and Airstream Inc. President and CEO Bob Wheeler, Forest River Inc. Director of Quality Assurance, Codes & Standard Leo Akins, and Chad Reece and Sam Jefson from Winnebago Industries.
From a Go RVing standpoint, Redfern said the premiere was “fantastic.” The Go RVing logo was part of the backdrop of the red carpet, so it was highly visible as the stars were being interviewed by various media outlets. The motorhome was also a hit, she added.
“We went with a small Type C motorhome, which is just like what Bonnie and her family have in the movie,” she said. “And then the Disney artists, they did some vinyl clings that went up beside of it, too, along with the big Toy Story 4 logo. It had all the characters on the side, so it made it a great photo opportunity point for all of the guests, as well as a good number of the celebrities that were in attendance stopped and did photos.
“Tim Allen not only stopped for a photo, but he opened the door up, went inside and then made a grand dramatic entrance back out waving to everyone and gave everyone a big thumbs up as he came out the door of the RV. So he really had fun with the RV there on the red carpet,” she added.
As one might imagine with a Hollywood movie premiere, Redfern confirmed the scene itself was “quite a spectacle,” mentioning all the paparazzi in particular.
“Oh my gosh, yes. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I didn’t ever see myself ever being invited to a Hollywood premiere,” she said. “Of course, they had the barrier fences along the front of the theater here on Hollywood Boulevard, so when people traveled down Hollywood Boulevard, as the celebrities were arriving and everyone was going into the theater, people are literally hanging out of the open windows of their cars with their cell phones, trying to capture a photo. And people were lined up on the opposite side of the street seeing if they could get a glimpse of the celebrities as they came through.
“So, to be there and be part of it and just to be able to stand there on the red carpet and watch every person go past — because we were allowed to stay there and take some photos of the celebrities as they stopped at the RV — and just to be able to be part of it, it was so exciting. Absolutely.”
Go RVing even had an influence on the development of the movie, she pointed out. At one point, Redfern was shown a clip of the movie. The clip showed Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) and her family driving in the RV, but they were not seated or wearing safety belts. Redfern delicately brought this to the animators’ attention, and she was pleased to see everyone seated and wearing safety belts in the movie’s premiere.
“At the time, I said to them, ‘I realize that I’m here to potentially be a marketing partner and not a film critic.’ But they said, ‘No, we’re definitely looking for the input.’ As they said, they want to make sure that if a family is going to watch this movie and be inspired to take an RV road trip like Bonnie and her family, that they’re going to be doing it properly. So that’s when I said, ‘There is one scene that I know would make us cringe.’ And that was changed in the movie,” Redfern explained.
“It was impressive to us that an entertainment company who was looking for a marketing partner would really stop and take stock in what we were saying and say, ‘No, we want to make sure that this is portrayed accurately and safely and properly.’ That just impressed me with even more so with the integrity of the kind of company that Disney is. And so that just cemented even more in our minds that we were really partnering up with a company that had a lot of great integrity and values that align with what we want in our industry as well,” she added.