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How to do an eye-popping movie promotional campaign

Posted on July 29th, 2016



So you’ve raised the funds to create an awesome movie and you want to bask in the glory of a job well done. By all means enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame, and then when you wake up you can get to grips with reality – no matter how great your movie is, it’s nothing without an audience. A promotional campaign should aim to put your movie in the limelight and attract other movie fans or media students. You need to be aware that indie movies and those made with very small budgets are in particular need of this kind of vital promotion. Here are some tips to help you position your marketing campaign in just the right way to help your movie make it’s mark:


Know your audience

It doesn’t matter whether you’re marketing movies or milkshakes, it’s important to recognize the demographics likely to be attracted to what you’re selling. In the case of a milkshake that’s pretty obvious, however, knowing the potential appeal of your movie is essential if you are to choose the right promotional tools.

The most successful campaigns don’t necessarily always use the same ingredients, although there are some givens, for example, the need to use superb high quality images or videos; think sources such as Megapixl and you’ll soon get the idea.


Trailblazing trailers

Talking of mega brilliant images and videos, Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) made amazing use of a trailer that did more than just provide you with a few glimpses of forthcoming action. In fact, this interactive trailer allowed you to explore videos from behind the scenes, enjoy movie chats and introduced you to all sorts of movie trivia that you really needed to know. Universal’s trailer resulted in mega sales worldwide.


Conjure up an integrated campaign

Makers of The Simpsons Movie (2007) already knew that they had a solid fan base that would be excited by the new movie; however, this did not stop them from taking a creative approach to their promotional campaign. They brought together a number of options designed to appeal to individual family members, ensuring that families as a whole would want to see the movie. Fans could enter a contest to have their hometown host the premier or participate in a Simpsons episode, create their own avatar or explore a digital version of Springfield. One major impact came when 7-Eleven convenience stores were converted to Kwik-E-Mart stores, replicating those in The Simpsons TV shows and the movie.


Align gaming with movie experiences

In a supremely clever ploy, the marketing team behind the movie The Inception (2010) pulled gamers deep into a world of dreams and intrigue. This was an interactive experience that engaged players with a series of characters and scenarios. Additionally, the team added a prequel to the movie in the form of a graph novel and related websites. The fantasy elements worked beautifully in support of the promotional campaign.


Make good use of current technology

The team behind the hugely successful blockbuster The Hunger Games (2012) used a website linked to the movie to extend the audience reach and engender brand loyalty. The movie was based on a book that already had an impressive following, and by creating a virtual world, online fans were able to further enhance their experiences of either book or film, or both.

Depending on the subject matter of your movie, it’s worth giving some thought as to whether it lends itself to immersive experiences in terms of both the characters you create and the worlds they inhabit. This is an inexpensive option for even the most hard-pressed budget, so you should seriously consider this.


Create an imaginary fan

Men in Black III (2012) had the fervent backing of a supposedly 14-year-old student blogger named ‘BugEyes’. Sony’s smart promotional campaign used social media to generate interest, and while BugEyes was openly seeking proof that extraterrestrials really existed (as well as the men in black suits) and publishing examples on his blog, he attracted more than 129,000 likes on Facebook. To close the campaign, Sony invited BugEyes to join the team, resulting in a positive and uplifting outcome, the better to keep the customer satisfied.


Stage a spectacular stunt

Chronicle (2012) was a low-budget superhero movie that used an inspiringly brilliant idea to generate interest. In a surreal feat, remote-controlled planes in human form were flown over New York City landmarks, as a result of which many people reported these ‘flying people’ to news channels. The video of this extraordinary trick then got more than eight million YouTube views, while many news channels filed reports, including the Today Show, Bloomberg News and NBC.


Get your act together

Maybe the most important thing about how you promote your movie is that you actively take steps to promote it. A little analysis here and a little creativity there, and your promotional campaign could be as awesome as the movie itself. An eye-popping marketing campaign needs some impressive ideas that will support the central elements of your movie and at the same time draw in people who might be on the fringes of your identified demographic.

As a final example, The Blair Witch Project (1999) was a very low-budget movie that went viral before much of today’s social media even existed. The bewitching element in the promotional campaign was that moviegoers were not sure if the footage was real or not. In this case, a sense of mystery prevailed, and exploiting this was what led to the movies extraordinary success. The marketing and promotional campaign was focused on a website, which, as you might know, still exists today.

In terms of marketing success, you probably already know that the successful campaign was highly inventive and that online marketing made a tremendous difference to it’s popularity and credulity. The lesson from this, as with all campaigns, is that in promoting your movie you need to be original and unique. Pay attention to the detail and think big.

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