To stand out in a sea of big-budget films, Hollywood blockbusters are marketing movies with creative tactics that build buzz, drive engagement, and increase ticket sales.
Which film is going to be the must-see movie of the summer? Convincing mainstream movie-going audiences that a movie shouldn’t be missed has gotten particularly tough. Plenty of safe-bet sequels and franchise installments still get around-the-block audiences on opening weekend, but others flop unexpectedly.
People are experiencing marketing fatigue from exposure to a higher number of big-budget movies every year. With so many ideas and images being repeated, it’s getting tougher to pick out movies that promise something new, exciting or engaging. On top of that, trends like cord cutting have led to a decline in overall attendance, even as box offices take climb.
Hollywood understands that some blockbusters work, but a big budget and dazzling effects are no longer guarantees of success. How do marketers approach deconstructing and repackaging the idea of the blockbuster to keep audiences interested?
Here are some examples and trends that tell the story of how to successfully market movies in 2017.
Turn Releases into Social Media Experiences
Movie-goers – millennials in particular – love discussing films with their friend circle on social media. Over half of millennials use social media to recommend movies to others, and 30% go see movies based on recommendations from friends and family.
Even before a movie premieres, people begin voicing their opinions. The slow trickle of trailer teasers, posters, and promotional materials continually gives people something new to share or engage with. This non-stop flow of new information helps audiences stay captivated and feel like they are already a part of the film’s universe.
Releases of poster images for an upcoming superhero film, for instance, were met with opinions of how this version of the superhero differs from others, inviting shares, discussions, and feedback from just one promotional asset.
Social media efforts can also serve as a way for movies to appeal to targets outside of the expected audience. For example, an animated film that came out last year about pets could have been seen as only geared toward families. However, the studio turned to digital and social media within its marketing campaign to reach a broader audience. This included a heavy product partnership with PetSmart across the brand’s shops and digital channels, viral hashtags that inspired user-generated content, and relatable clips from the film featured on its Facebook page that aimed to speak to and encourage engagement from pet lovers of all ages.
Market Films Using Characters as Influencers
Influencers increasingly affect purchase decisions, and Hollywood has taken notice. Because characters provide a huge component of many big franchises’ appeal, using them as a type of influencer can generate engaging marketing content while attracting audiences.
After all, a film may be only 110 minutes long, but marketing done right can make characters feel like they live forever. When actors take their role beyond the screen into people’s everyday lives they can develop more emotional relationships, which can lead to content that is destined to go viral. For example, Johnny Depp’s recent stunt of surprising guests at Disneyland on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride earlier this month created noise for the new movie’s release.
Originality and Quality Create Buzz
Studios can always seek out new methods to promote films, but in some cases, the quality of these efforts can make or break a movie’s success. For example, the undeniable beauty and simplicity of Moonlight’s poster, trailer, and promo images generated a considerable amount of social buzz for what was a low-budget film with a relatively restrained premise.
Positive reviews from critics, peers, and celebrities also helped spread the movie’s impact far beyond its limited release, earning huge box office takes on a per-screen basis.
Studios are also increasingly evolving and prioritizing the accessibility of their marketing efforts. For example, one movie debuted its trailers in a vertically-oriented portrait mode for optimal viewing on mobile screens.
Making materials easily accessible and shareable on social media platforms can broadcast viral-like discussions all the more loudly, channeling word-of-mouth as the perfect partner alongside effective trailers. When quality and craft work together, they can elevate a film worthy of peer recommendations, which undoubtedly serve as strong motivators in an age of ad blocking and cord cutting.