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Most successful movie campaigns of 2010

POSTED BY Richard Le Cocq 25 August 2010 One Comment

This week the UK’s Independent newspaper online discussed the most successful movie campaigns of 2010. I’ve always considered film to be one of the more proactive leaders in entertainment who embrace digital and now it seems interaction is one their prime directives when it comes to luring an audience into the cinemas. The article says “studios have to actively engage the audience in order to get buy-in to films” and I think this is true of all entertainment right now. With an abundance of choice we are now faced with the audience having little or hardly no time at all to decided where to spend their hard earned dough. We have to allow them to feel a part of product way before they’ve even seen it now. The article continues:

“We no longer simply consume marketing campaigns; we’ve become active participants in them, as can be seen in the recent trend in transmedia storytelling. Today, the movie released in cinemas is just one part of a wider narrative jigsaw that stretches beyond the confines of the theatre and across other forms of media.”

I think the theatre industry can learn a lot from ‘transmedia storytelling‘. Creating anticipation is not just about a poster, a trailer and perhaps a few shiny ‘behind-the-scenes’ photos and videos anymore. It’s about the detail. Like making a delicious meal from scratch, if you know how much labor of love has gone into making the final product, you already know you’re going to love the finished result due to the amount of time, energy and pleasure you’ve got out of being there from the very start. You could argue, “Oh it’s okay for the film industry, they have the budgets to invest in such sophistication” but I think you’d be surprised. Aside from the major blockbusters on release, the average middle-weight film probably has a marketing budget equal to or even less than a typical Broadway show. Piracy and the fact 8-10 movies are released every week means there are now even smaller release windows and therefore smaller budgets to work with, so being frugal and adept with your marketing choices is more essential than ever for distributors. (Believe me, I saw my film budgets shrink year by year and the demands that came with them get bigger and bigger!) Less money and less time means everything has to be quantifiable. Digital interaction allows you to adapt your campaign on the fly if it’s not working hard enough for you. With an economic downturn also leering down at us, it also means none of us can afford wastage. How much transmedia storytelling do we need to produce to ensure say the audiences for ‘Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark‘ or ‘The Book of Morman‘ are reassured that this is a show for them? Will the same theatrical marketing tactics and waiting for the critic reviews be enough? Having worked on a controversial show like ‘Jerry Springer – The Opera‘ I’m not sure the tactics we employed back then in 2003 would work now in this crowded, media savvy climate. Of course, everything is gamble but here’s to adopting some of the film industry’s tactics and seeing more layered ’storytelling’ reach out beyond the rehearsal room in the near future.

The Independent Top Five Movie Campaigns:


An incredibly smart campaign combined innovative posters, real-world scavenger hunts, interactive websites and social networking to connect audiences and build a fan-base for a film with no prior history that has since gone on to be a critical and commercial success.

Ever since Nolan’s Dark Knight online campaign, the level of sophistication and money Warner Bros. have invested in promoting his films has been phenomenal. My recent trip to the UK I was bombarded with how much digital outdoor there now is in London – and boy does it look impressive! The animated poster for Inception consisted of featuring the eponymous ‘folding city’ moment from the movie. Just this one scene is enough to make you give a double-take and look closer at the poster and this is one small part of a larger campaign that gave an unknown (non franchise) film the profile it needed.

Despicable Me

This year’s developments in movie marketing don’t just take place before you enter the theatre; they’re now invading the cinema itself. The US release of Universal’s cartoon Despicable Me was accompanied by an iPhone app, an “in-cinema” piece of software which provided a real-time English translation of the gibberish spouted by the film’s minion characters.

I’ve not seen much promotion for this movie myself, but I am loving the fact smart phone apps are being developed enhance the user experience. Not sure how many under 12 year olds have an iPhone though, so it will be interesting to know if there was any major success with this campaign.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The latest trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows went live simultaneously on Yahoo! International and the film’s Facebook page, placing equal emphasis on both traditional PR and social-media presence. The trailer on Facebook incorporated a live chat feature so fans could discuss the trailer and increased the asset’s talkability.

Offering Facebook the exclusive to premiere the latest Harry Potter trailer is probably one of the smartest things Warner Bros. could have done, admittedly on the small screen you may lose the epic quality of a such a special-effects laden film, but it immediately makes the trailer viral with friends sharing it amongst friends and peers.

Sex and the City 2

The digital marketing agency behind the film encouraged cinemagoers to “Tweet their feet”, leading the film to trend on the social-networking site Twitter during its opening weekend. The movie also has the UK’s biggest film page on Facebook, with almost 120,000 fans.

If anything, I think this movie proves that girls are just as involved with social media as guys are. (You’d be amazed how many of my clients still think the ‘internet’ and ’social media’ is still has a major male bias to it!) Yet this campaign shows us all if you have the right product and the right tools, the ladies are just as prolific and eager to engage with something they care about.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World

A cult title, the campaign to promote the August release of Scott Pilgrim vs the World has used social networks to tailor its marketing for individual demographics, sculpting different materials for avid fans from those designed for relative newcomers. There has also been a significant transmedia effort with downloadable games, interactive widgets, comics, on-set blogs and YouTube videos.

The interactive movie trailer is one of the best things I’ve seen online at the moment. Perfect example of combining technology and cult entertainment to appeal to an audience demographic who loves both. Made by Geeks for Geeks!

What film campaigns have made an impact on you this year? As always, I’d love to hear your opinions on Facebook or Twitter.

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One Comment »

  • Richard Le Cocq (author) said:

    For those who want to learn more about the transmedia experience as I’ve had a few questions. Here’s The Dark Knight campaign breakdown video http://ht.ly/2uDFY