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Digital and social media marketing for the film industry

In the Age Of Information or rather, Interaction, with digital media leaping across time and space at an uncanny speed, older technology has to pull itself along into the future. Film and production companies as well as cinemas have had to come up with some innovative advertising and marketing campaigns in order to fill seats and buy tickets.
When pirating the newest and most exclusive films is common practice and you can watch them in the comfort of your own home on HD screens or while you travel on your iPad, the thrill of cinematic experience is not enough to draw an audience anymore.

Therefore, the film industry has incorporated some of the most creative and interesting campaigns to boost anticipation and induce cinematic appreciation in movie goers. South Africa's film industry is switching onto this necessary change on strategy and what we can do to make the most of social media and video marketing. Here are two of the most successful international campaigns marketers have run to promote films using digital media.

1. Twilight: Eclipse

Combining a film with a brand to market it is a great way to increase revenue. This strategy worked for the Eclipse part of the Twilight saga. The film joined forces with Eclipse Gum and on the Eclipse Gum website, instructions were given to users on how to "Collect codes from specially marked packs of Eclipse gum to unlock The Twilight Saga: Eclipse secret footage and images. Every code reveals secret footage when the specially marked pack of Eclipse gum is held up to a webcam. There are five videos and 30 images featuring exclusive content from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." Each code determined which video you could unlock, with five catagories featured,"Villains," "Cullens," "Love Triangle," "Wolf Pack," and "Bella."

More than 3 million people saw Twilight on it's opening night.

Statistics on movie attendance is reported in dollars rather than in number of attendees. The reported box office for the opening night of Twilight was 37 million. At an average of $10.00 per ticked (some paid more, some paid less, and some tickets were given as promotional prizes), that means that about approximately 3 million 7 hundred thousand people saw Twilight on opening night. For the entire weekend, Twilight grossed $70.6 million.

Fandango reported it was selling Twilight tickets at 5 per second. They also reported that 1000 midnight screenings were sold out. Fandango also reports that Twilight sold the 3rd highest number of pre sold tickets behind only Star Wars Episode III and The Dark Knight.

2. Avatar

It's coming up for the anniversary of Avatar, on the 21st of August. This is mostly down to the extremely astute digital marketing campaign put in place for the promotion of James Cameron's latest film. It's been condoned as the most comprehensive and impressive digital marketing campaign ever used to promote a film. Four key components were put in place to make up this strategy:
  • Social media
    Avatar used social media to build relationships through interactions. On Facebook, the Avatar fanpage had approximately 1.3 million fans. On Myspace, 800 000 fans and on Twitter, around 25 000 followers. Last year, Avatar was the most talked about film of 2010 on social media. Avatar also used Youtube, Flickr and TypePad to increase their following.

  • Interactive Trailer
    Avatar provided fans with an interactive trailer whereby the user could click on characters to access information about them. It was built on Adobe AIR for optimum developing capabilities.

  • Webpage
    An exceptional comprehensive webpage which allows fans access to the story, character bios, the music, and wallpaper downloads. Fans could also contribute to the website giving it interactive edge. Pandorapedia was created to allow further contribution of anything Avatar related.

  • Augmented Reality
    Mattel created Avatar toys which buyers could 'bring to life' with webcams and product tags. Avatar also joined forces with mega brand, Coca-Cola who produced customised Avatar cans of Coke Zero.
The movie sold over $2 billion in total ticket sales, driven largely by 3-D revenues and international interest.Both of these cases pulled in enormous numbers in all areas; en mass anticipation, fans, fads and even an epidemic of marketing success in terms of the amount of capital that was made. None of which would have been possible without social media and digital marketing.

At the recent FilMart convention hosted in Durban, one of the main topics of discussion was how to incorporate the new digital face of marketing into our national film industry. The future looks bright for South African cinema through a lens of digital marketing in order to generate a following and revenue whilst bringing the film industry into the Age Of Interaction.

15 Aug 2011 13:55



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