Media: Strategy Analysis - Tapping into the competitive spirit

Brand: Alien vs Predator

Client: 20th Century Fox

Brief: Position Alien vs Predator as the must-see film of last October

Target audience: Young men

Budget: £1.4 million

AGENCIES

Media: Adam Cherry at Starcom Mediavest

Creative: Tea Creative (press), PPC (audio-visual)

Online: Substance 001

Outdoor: Poster Publicity Limited

STRATEGY For the release of Alien vs Predator, 20th Century Fox wanted to position the film as the must-see movie in October. It was released in a very competitive period, so the main strength to draw on was the heritage of the Alien and Predator franchises. However, the film was lacking the pull of big Hollywood stars, it was unlikely to receive critical acclaim and its content was not appealing to a mass audience. This was the first time that the two creatures from the sci-fi genre were coming together head-to-head in an epic battle. The target audience of young men are competitive, so the strategy was to stimulate the male competitive instinct.

EXECUTION

POutdoor Outdoor had a vital role to play as young males are always out and about. Domination at football matches was an ideal way to create stand-out and reach males in a competitive environment. The package included every washroom panel and six-sheet in more than 30 stadia. Six perimeter boards and six jumbotron screens were also included.

Bespoke "voting six-sheets" were created by JCDecaux, inviting consumers to choose who they think would win. The panels had two buttons on them, enabling consumers to vote for either the Alien or Predator. Once pressed, a sound bite from the chosen character played and an LED screen displayed the number of votes logged for each character.

Underground 12-sheets also ran for two weeks before release, providing strong coverage against the target audience in the London region.

In addition to the voting panels, consumers were prompted via the creative on the six- and 12-sheets to vote by text for who they wanted to win.

After the text vote, a free AVP wallpaper was sent to their phone.

PTV The main airtime campaign started three weeks before release using ten- and 20-second spots. For the Halloween weekend, ten-second spots ran as a call to action. A two-week promotion ran on the Sci-Fi Channel in the run-up to release. Twenty-second spots ran on the Pub Channel around some of the big football matches in that period.

PPress Press activity was used to strengthen the position of AVP as a head-to-head battle. Special bookends were used which showed the two characters waiting to battle against each other at either end of a spread. Half-page vertical bookends appeared in Time Out in the week of release.

POnline The audience of young males was targeted via websites such as skysports.com, nme.co.uk, loaded.co.uk, mtv. co.uk, gaming sites and high-traffic sites such as msn.co.uk and thesun.co.uk. The creative included streaming trailers, skyscrapers and a game overlay.

RESULTS

Consumers were highly receptive to the voting six-sheets - more than 530,000 votes were logged on only 20 sites.

The opening weekend box office reached £2 million. The final box office exceeded £5 million, beating Alfie by £1.3 million and £4.6 million respectively, according to IMDB.co.uk.

THE VERDICT - Mark Holden, executive planning director, PHD

Let's start with what was good. The planners on this account took it upon themselves to pick out something that could be used to shape how they were going to use media - the competitive theme of the film. The competitive theme is something that can effectively shape a communications strategy.

So far, so good. The next question is how well did they use this? As ever, the part of the plan that stands out is one of the smaller components: the voting six-sheet posters. This was a neat little mechanic for achieving additional cut-through. On top of this, I also think they used bookends and streaming video well. This does, however, assume that this campaign required a cut-through approach - perhaps the nature of the movie, with its well-known characters, would have been noticed without the use of high cost-per-thousand executions. But that is hard to know, so I will give the benefit of the doubt.

My biggest disappointment was that a sizeable percentage of the budget was used for a standard TV and outdoor campaign - where the only link to the "competitiveness hook" was to hope for an association attribution.

I just cannot believe that the environment of a football match would offer up "competitive" associations of so significant a degree that they would enhance how people see the campaign.

It's so easy to sit here and critique a piece of planning work. The reality is the planners put together a solid media plan - tightly targeted enough to build enough frequency to create the impression that the film was of a significant size, and using relatively cost-effective channels that conveyed the content.

But a showcase campaign should surely be a little bit different. I would have loved to have seen a themed evening on five where it showed the original versions of Alien followed by Predator, with a voting mechanic that then affects the scheduling - a vote for which film five showed. And then some advertising to support it. Or to create an undercurrent that would give the film a bit of added interest - perhaps an online petition of people complaining about how scary the film is, as an effort to get it banned. This could then act as a source for a tactical strand to above-the-line communications.