Film Studio Marketing Tactics: Part 1

22 Aug

1st article in our 7- week series on Film Studios Marketing Tactics

As mentioned in our editorial, our new series will explore film studio marketing tactics. Today in Part 1, we will look at a brief summary of some of the tools studio PR teams employ. Then next week in Part 2 we will explore both successful and failed marketing tactics.

In 1982, the definition of public relations was,

Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

In November 2011 the definition changed:

 “Public relations is the management function of researching, communicating and collaborating with publics to build mutually beneficial relationships.  Public relations is the strategic process of engagement between organizations and publics to achieve mutual understanding and realize goals.”[1]

In order for studios to get what they want—money—they must give the public what they want—entertainment.  If a studio is smart, they will do all they can to get to know their consumer.  What are the demographics?  What are the consumers’ interests?  What source of marketing will be most beneficial?

Movie trailers have always been and always will be a great form of film promotion.  Before internet and the age of social media, newspapers and magazines were also utilized to market films.  The internet now provides a myriad of opportunities to get word out on an upcoming film: movie websites/blogs, games, twitter and advertisements.  Other tactics include radio and billboards.

Studios also market through product placement: toys, clothing, books, and other merchandise.  Another instrument implemented in the world of PR marketing is the use of “showmances” between the film’s two stars.  Usually the couple “falls in love onset” and when the film is over the break up usually occurs because they can’t work “long distance.”  Sometimes PR can go overboard and sometimes it’s underwhelming.  It’s a matter of finding balance that a skilled marketer can reach.

Marvel’s The Avengers is what Hollywood would call a box office success.  Domestically, it is still bringing in the money, with a sum total of $617,595,391.  What made it so successful?  Marvel was very strategic in their use of marketing.  First they started with the introduction of characters in their individual films: Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America.  Teasers at the end of each subsequent film also was used to peak interest.

Toys, mugs, costumes, and lunchboxes were available at all toy stores.  Superhero apps and other phone games were added to the mix. By the time The Avengers made it to the theaters, anticipation was palpable.  It didn’t seem to matter what else was opening that weekend because most audiences were only interested to see all their superheroes come TOGETHER in one film.  That alone is a fantastic marketing dream. To be continued in Part 2.

Please join us for a discussion Thursday 8/23/2012 @7pmE/12UTC

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61 Responses to “Film Studio Marketing Tactics: Part 1”

  1. Open Book August 22, 2012 at 12:45 PM #

    LB-Great article very interesting. What I found really interesting is how successful Marvel/Disney was in marketing the Avengers despite the turmoil happening after Rich Ross fired all the seasoned marketing employees.

    Do you know if the anemic marketing department under Rich Ross had a hand in the Avengers campaign?

    • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 7:02 PM #

      OB,

      What are you saying?

      Are you asking whether these almost simultaneous events (below) are a disaster?


      • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:05 PM #

        Yes!

    • littlebells August 23, 2012 at 7:15 PM #

      In a nutshell OB, it was a matter of sticking to tried and true and BEING SPECIFIC. This site says it better than I ever could, so thank you Jose Palomino.

      http://www.valueprop.com/blog/2012/05/hulk-smash-4-marketing-lessons-from-the-avengers/

      • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:25 PM #

        This is an excellent article LB. The quote I like best is.

        “The bottom line: Do your research, don’t make assumptions, and do not base your entire marketing strategy on personal feelings. After all, in marketing terms, you are only a sampling of one!”

        LOVE IT!

        • littlebells August 23, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

          Yes it is a great article! And he is exactly right. As for your question about teens, I don’t know. I think usually the “shoving” comes in to play because the producers know their film most likely sucks and they are over compensating.

          What marketing works best with you?

          • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

            What marketing works best with you?

            Less is more. Also. I rather see a clever and creative campaign then a conventional over done mess. Like u said, it’s a red flag to me the film sucks. I really liked the trailers for Prometheus and I loved the promo for Cosmopolis in NY it was very sophisticated and highlighted the essence of the film. It makes an audiences curious why MOMA and NYSE were selected to promote the film? It was a simple yet poignant statement about the content of the film.

        • ozzie20 August 23, 2012 at 7:33 PM #

          Must…Resist…The urge…To…. Throw….Shade!……..

          I give up. It’s going to burst from me anyway! A certain few companies need to realise that last sentense! Phew. I feel better now, lol!

          • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:43 PM #

            Ozzie!

            Dare I ask u to elaborate on your meltdown? LOL!!

            • ozzie20 August 23, 2012 at 7:50 PM #

              LOL! Yeah, that would become a mega rant that would take over the whole page! Fortunately, I’m very tired and just saying that one sentense was enough to calm me down. But we all know who I’m talking about! 🙂

              • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:54 PM #

                Hmmm! I won’t press u. But can u tell me what was the most annoying tactic used by this company?

                • ozzie20 August 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM #

                  Ok, strap yourself in! Here goes… Fake relationships, sycophantic reviews and interviews, use of certain props in real life, encouraging fantatic behaviour, merchandise that doesn’t really match the product, trying to rebrand something that will never work and advertising things in places where they don’t belong too. All of it is annoying! I can’t pick one thing that aggravates me more than another. It’s all nails on chalk boards to me! I’m sure there are many more things I can think of but my head is spinning after that release of energy, lol!

                  • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 8:31 PM #

                    hahahaha! Wow! Ozzie….U were quite constrained and to the point. I’m impressed!

                    BTW: ITA

      • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM #

        LB,

        That was a great article to use to respond to OB’s question.

        I brought over some of the lessons from that article by possibly Jose Palomino of valueprop.

        LESSON ONE: EXPERIENCE MATTERS
        LESSON TWO: COHERENT MESSAGING MATTERS
        LESSON THREE: DOING YOUR RESEARCH MATTERS
        LESSON FOUR: STRATEGY MATTERS

        • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

          LB,

          Here’s a question I have.

          I’m trying to understand when selling to children who may not be doing the buying; how does a marketing department determine when they have won the campaign or not.

          If adults (who paid for both) understand “…Carter” was a bomb and “the Avengers” was a success. Does it make a difference if as LB said………………….

          “Toys, mugs, costumes, and lunchboxes were available at all toy stores….”

          And children who don’t understand the movies’ strengths and weaknesses, buy much of the products anyway?

          • ozzie20 August 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

            Good question CR! Unfortunately I don’t know the answer but I would like to know too.

          • littlebells August 23, 2012 at 8:06 PM #

            Mob mentality? I don’t know. I think kids get excited mire when they see their parents reacting the same way. I HAD no idea who john carter was but the crew in The Avengers? Heck yeah!!

            • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 8:13 PM #

              LOL!! I did not know who John Carter was either.

              CR-Did u know anything about JC?

              • ozzie20 August 23, 2012 at 8:18 PM #

                I didn’t know who JC was either. I like the mob mentality guess LB!

              • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 8:39 PM #

                I knew some obscure geek junk that no one with a life should care about. Trying to build an audience for a movie like that was crazy.

                This was almost science fiction from the turn of the century before movies like “2001”, “Star Wars”,”Star Trek” and before NASA and the space programs.

  2. Comic Relief August 22, 2012 at 5:07 PM #

    Fantastic. Can’t wait for the discssion.

  3. parisienne August 23, 2012 at 12:46 AM #

    LB,

    Great article! What tactics do you think are used more wisely than others?

  4. Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:05 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

  5. littlebells August 23, 2012 at 7:06 PM #

    Hi everyone! Thanks for the compliments considering this article is really just an intro to what you will be writing about. 🙂

    Paris, it’s hard to say, so I’ll give you what works well for me: trailers that don’t show too much or too little, don’t give away all the best scenes, and there isn’t much voiceover to distract me from what is being played. Another tactic I didn’t write about because it isn’t used as much, is being informed who directed and wrote the film. When i found out DJango Unchained was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, I didn’t need any other promo to get me to buy a ticket. I really don’t rely on other marketing strategies to sell me a film. Oh, word of mouth also is a thumbs up in my book.

    I think the worst marketing is the “shove it down your throat” kind. However it’s done, whether merchandise, constant commercials, magazine write-ups, show/fauxmances, etc…if it’s done in excessive I lose complete interest.

    OB, still working on your answer. 🙂

  6. Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:09 PM #

    No problem LB take your time. Great answer though to Paris Q.

  7. Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:15 PM #

    I think adults don’t respond well to overt advertising and it works against a film rather than for it.

    • ozzie20 August 23, 2012 at 7:56 PM #

      I agree. I tend to go off trailers and word of mouth. That’s it, anything else is overkill!

  8. Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:19 PM #

    LB- U Said: “I think the worst marketing is the “shove it down your throat” kind. However it’s done, whether merchandise, constant commercials, magazine write-ups, show/fauxmances, etc…if it’s done in excessive I lose complete interest.”

    ITA but do u think this “shove it down your throat” tactic is done primarily to attract teens?

  9. littlebells August 23, 2012 at 7:21 PM #

    In the article I just posted, it mentions cast. I completely forgot that in my article, so please forgive me. Using actors to promote a film can be quite intelligent. Most great actors have a large fan base and regardless of the type of film, the fans will go see their favorite actor. I’m a major Tom Hardy fan. I most likely would never have seen his films pre-Inception, but now I have and whatever movies he does in the future, most likely I will see.

    Robert Pattinson seems to have a very healthy and lively fan base. Cosmopolis is only being shown in select theaters but it seems to be doing very well. Of course DC has a large following as well and that is helpful.

    • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM #

      Everyone-

      Some actors are known to sustain an audience or fanbase no matter what they do fans will go see their films. Why is that?

      • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 7:55 PM #

        I’ll try to answer this.

        As in the video posted above many see fanaticism as a very big ongoing problem. Yet I don’t think many are insensitive to the amounts of alienation many suffer in today’s society or world.

        OB,

        People form emotional attachments which remain stable or constant regardless of the project the celebrity appears in. When you say…

        “no matter what they do fans will go see their films”

        They say “darn right!”

        • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 8:03 PM #

          I don’t believe they recognize any of what were saying about marketing and respond in a visceral manner that demonstrates their most sincere emotional commitment.

        • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 8:05 PM #

          CR- I think just like marketing departments need to know their audience. The same can be said about actors. I think actors need to do their homework I think even more today then ever before given the amount of competition out there. However, I think actors who have fans who see any film they do has earned it through connection and trust.

          • littlebells August 23, 2012 at 8:17 PM #

            I agree. It’s a balance between knowing their fans but also making films they enjoy.

            • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 8:20 PM #

              I completely agree.

            • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 8:35 PM #

              YES! Most certainly the icing on the cake and the cherry on top. Whatever u want to call it. There is nothing like watching an actor love and be proud of the product they put out.

  10. ozzie20 August 23, 2012 at 7:27 PM #

    Hi all!

    Cool article LB! It’s very interesting to see how it’s changed and grown in just two decades.

    • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

    • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

      Hi Ozzie.

      • ozzie20 August 23, 2012 at 7:58 PM #

        Hi OB and CR! Hope you are both well. 🙂

  11. littlebells August 23, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

    I will be back in 20 minutes! Transferring to phone and dropping my daughter off at her dance class. 🙂 Please keep discussing. 🙂

  12. Open Book August 23, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

    “The bottom line: Make sure you have a strategy in place before you start marketing.

    – What other movies had a notoriously awful marketing campaign or an
    outstanding one?”

    This quote above is from the article LB posted. Can any of u answer this Q.

    • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 8:18 PM #

      Ok, here another marketing disaster starring Taylor Kitch, I think director Peter Berg really thought his marketing strategy was “in place.”

      • littlebells August 23, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

        Ok, I’m going to tell u exactly what went through my mind when I saw the trailer for the first time. I think many felt the same way.

        “Are you *bleep*ing kidding me?? They made a MOVIE about a child’s GAME?? This. Looks. Stupid.”

        There seemed to be no story line and only explosions.

        • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

          O.K.

          I wont argue with you. Ignore the comment below.

      • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

        So you don’t have to listen to the entire 2nd video…

        – They did their homework,
        – consulted experts,
        – seemed to do many test shoots,

        and failed enormously anyway.

        Can excellent marketting really save Hollyood from every possible glitch?

  13. littlebells August 23, 2012 at 8:01 PM #

    I’m back and getting caught up. 🙂

    • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

      Hi!! Your Home….LOL!! JK! We had a lot to keep us busy.

  14. littlebells August 23, 2012 at 8:13 PM #

    Hi CR!

    I think films like The King’s Speech and Black Swan wouldn’t have been nearly as successful if they had had large marketing campaigns. Small, subtle, and word of mouth was all they needed. The films were brilliant to begin with. Amazing writing, acting, and directing. Honestly, once the film is out it doesn’t matter how well or lousy the marketing was, imo. If there is anything less than stellar about a film, it won’t.bring in the $$$$.

    • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 8:31 PM #

      Again I can’t argue with you. If you are looking for some security originality is completely under estimated.

    • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 8:38 PM #

      LB-

      I think WORD OF MOUTH is really underestimated. In this day in age with social media it has more weight then any trailer or marketing campaign. Actually that’s how Matrix became popular was word of mouth and it was before social media.

  15. littlebells August 23, 2012 at 8:39 PM #

    Everyone, I need to go for the evening, but thank you for a great discussion. CR, feel free to argue with me. Haha!!!

    I will check in later. Good night!

    • Open Book August 23, 2012 at 8:41 PM #

      Goodnight LB! Great article. I’m going to sign off as well.

      Take care everyone!

    • Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

      what!!!!!!????? I thought you did a spectacular job introducing the topic.

      • littlebells August 23, 2012 at 10:11 PM #

        I was just teasing u. 🙂

  16. Comic Relief August 23, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

    Sorry guys I have to go. Great job LB.

  17. ozzie20 August 23, 2012 at 8:53 PM #

    Night guys! I’ve had fun too!

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