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Movie Marketing Madness

Movie Marketing Madness

Movie marketing news, reviews and opinion by Chris Thilk.
http://www.moviemarketingmadness.com”

This site provides an incredible amount of detail on upcoming movies and the marketing campaigns behind them. Of particular relevance to me are those articles that discuss the word of mouth method of advertising movies and while they are all fascinating, one of these that I have chosen to examine in depth is, “At what point do we begin to do harm?”http://www.moviemarketingmadness.com/blog/2009/06/01/at-what-point-do-we-begin-to-do-harm/

Here, Chris Thilk discusses the  cons of the internet and its effect on the world of viral marketing. In particular he asks the question, “How far is too far?” when we consider the role we are all able to play in the success or failure of entertainment media and its various word of mouth methods of marketing. Thilk cites the root of this problem being in that everyone has a voice on the internet, although is adamant to clarify that not all voices are equal.  Hence, one might draw from this conclusion that Thilk believes the blame lies not with the creators of the product allowing it free reign within the sphere of the internet, but with those with whom viral marketing relies, the public.

Thilk takes the stance that these fans of movies are hypocritical in the sense that on the one hand they purport their love for something while at the same time bringing it down by, for example, posting leaked scripts and rumours that are very often detrimental to the product. Contrarily to this however, it is my opinion that the creators should embrace such seemingly unwanted attention and use it to their marketing advantage. Obviously a technology with such a global impact as the internet can be harnessed for both good and evil and as such, it demonstrates a profound knowledge to be able to use this to your advantage. This is done readily in successful viral marketing campaigns and therefore, the internet is extraordinarily beneficial to the movie marketing cause.

…and the Worst

In light of the previous post, it must also be declared that not all “subversive” film marketing has been nearly as successful as that for the Blair Witch Project. In fact many films have employed viral marketing strategies that have failed abysmally. A prime example of this is the recent film Wanted; the campaign for which consisted of a grainy, supposed surveillance video of a worker throwing a tantrum and destroying his office cubicle. However, despite the video being a hit all over the Internet, very few people were aware of the film it was supposed to be advertising.

Indeed, the balance of achieving marketing objectives for a campaign, along with achieving viral success can be tricky to get right. Wanted is a prime example of a successful viral campaign that, while being extremely entertaining, did nothing for the product it attempted to promote. Hence, it is evident that a great degree of expertise and knowledge is necessary for the overall success of a campaign.

See: http://www.totalfilm.com/features/the-best-and-worst-movie-viral-campaigns/ for more examples and stories of the successes and failures of viral movie campaigns.

The Best…

Viral marketing can be incredible for its continuous innovation and the way in which it can immerse you in a fascinating fictional experience. While often campaigns may only reach the most technologically adept fans, an effective campaign can cause quite literally an overnight sensation, facilitating unprecedented levels of interest in a film that could have easily failed if not for marketing through the internet.

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

One of the first and most successful examples of the viral marketing of cinema was for the 1999 film, The Blair Witch Project. Incredibly the film’s budget was a little over half a million yet it earned 248 million dollars gross. A lot of this can be attributed to the skill with which the creators handled its promotion, where the main aim was to get people questioning the authenticity of the story.  One way of doing so was to launch BlairWitch.com, a site that perpetuated the idea that the events depicted in the film were real using archive photos, police reports, interviews and a detailed back-story to add to the illusion. Branching across to another media outlet, the promoters ran two “mockumentaries”, on a science-fiction television channel, which attempted to establish a reality to the story. To date no other film has been able to blur the boundary between reality and fiction so triumphantly.

This example of viral marketing, despite being one of the least technologically developed campaigns, demonstrates the immeasurable degree of opportunities that face the film industry in incorporating viral marketing into their current methods of advertisement.

“Campaigns are now strategically planned, well thought-out executions, rather than just a last minute add-on to a wider marketing campaign,” claims Toni Smith, head of strategy and communications at viral marketers The Viral Factory. “The combination of both a good idea and a good strategy is key as the competition of not only other advertisers but also user-generated content means it is easy for campaigns to just disappear.”[1] This idea comes about as many organisations discover exactly how cost effective viral campaigns can be in comparison to mass print and broadcast forms of advertising. Indeed, a successful campaign requires very little expenditure compared with the high opportunity for rewards and dividends. However, it is not always as easy at it sounds. Creating a successful campaign is one challenge that many have struggled to get right…

[1] http://www.mycustomer.com/item/133055

Viral marketing may be defined as a technique that takes advantage of social networks in order to increase marketing objectives, for example in relation to movies, ticket and DVD sales. A viral marketing strategy goes about this through self-replicating processes, these being equivalent to the spread of pathological or computer viruses. In broad terms then, viral marketing creates buzz through “word of mouth” and its effectiveness has been enhanced by the revolutionary media innovation commonly known as the Internet.

However, viral marketing is not a recent invention, it has been around from its humble beginnings, hundreds of years ago, in the form of word of mouth or sharing entertaining stories with friends. With the advent of the Internet however, the time something takes to become viral has been drastically reduced so that now, word takes literally no more than seconds to spread from one person to another. It’s little wonder then that viral marketing is one of the most popular and widely used means of marketing within today’s social mediascape making it near impossible for one to not have been exposed to viral marketing in some form and indeed, the form I take particular interest in is when viral marketing is used to drive the sales of movies.