Media: Double Standards - Bringing cinema marketing into the digital age

Twitter, social media networks and blogging have changed the way media agencies are promoting movies, with some interesting results.

HENRY DAGLISH - BUSINESS DIRECTOR, ARENA BLM

- How much is movie promotion still about traditional ad campaigns?

More than you think, a lot of movie marketing is still fairly conservative and risk-averse. Traditional outdoor and TV are still the backbone for the majority of general releases, all planned for the traditional two week pre-release window. Some film distributors have finally recognised the merits of digital and its capability to drive word of mouth (although they are a long way behind other sectors). Thankfully, the days of simply slapping trailers online are numbered.

- Why are there agencies that specialise in film and entertainment media?

There's a saying in the industry that two similar clients presents a conflict but with three you are a specialist, and this is how many specialist agencies have evolved. Being a specialist shouldn't mean you only operate in film (or entertainment). There is room for specialists but bringing best practice, experience and creativity from other sectors is vital. As is having an all-round understanding of an audience's lifestyle and behaviour. The pace of digital moves so quickly that experience in just one media sector can be very limiting.

- What's been your most creative film promotion of the year?

For Tormented we created a campaign that leveraged the popularity of the lead actor, Alex Pettyfer, and tapped into the following behind Skins. The idea was to attract fans and give them the opportunity to "party with the stars" at a Tormented premiere and after-party. A Facebook fan page hosted the "party with the stars" competition and we built an application that encouraged fans to post updates/links/photos or videos containing the word "tormented". The more an individual uploaded, the more points they got. The groups with the most points got invited to the premiere and after-party.

- How much can an agency do to generate hype around movies such as This Is It or Paranormal Activity, or is it mostly momentum and natural word of mouth that creates this?

Generating hype around a movie is critical and underpins any movie campaign we create. Recruiting advocates through exclusive content can massively maximise any media plan and, importantly, can be done cost effectively and strengthen the impact of the traditional media. Content really is king - we arm advocates with exclusive content so they amplify positive word of mouth.

- How impressed are you by 3D cinema and how can it best be promoted through advertising when most people don't have 3D media at home?

Very impressed, it's come a long way since the launch of Jaws 3D. It doesn't need to be advertised in 3D, movie-goers know what to expect. It's the hype and publicity around the film that determines big box office.

- How much do film companies use ad/creative agencies?

In our experience they are not deployed on an ongoing basis and are used ad hoc. They tend to be utilised more as a production unit. Film companies have creatives and writers coming out of the walls.

- What's been your best experience in a cinema?

Taking a gorgeous woman called Daisy Lilly to watch Men In Black was memorable. Seriously, though, it was going to see Harry Potter when they had real owls in the foyer.

CHRIS WATTS - DIRECTOR OF FILM, TARGET MEDIA

- How much is movie promotion still about traditional ad campaigns?

Ad campaigns are changing with video-on-demand, new gaming platforms and internet on the go. Word of mouth, peer-to-peer recommendation and reviews have always been key influencers and the ability of cinema-goers to Tweet opinions instantly is having a direct impact on the performance of films. Coverage builders such as TV and posters still help build that all-important sense of scale but, increasingly, the convergence of media, entertainment and technology necessitates that we are innovating and engaging in social media, blogging and mobile environments.

- Why are there agencies that specialise in film and entertainment media?

The entertainment business is a high-risk sector filled with strong opinions and passionate, dedicated characters. Distributors want to work with like-minded people who understand their business challenges and have a proven track record. Understanding entertainment consumer behaviour patterns, managing the comms relationship through the lifecycle and harnessing the buzz requires an in-depth understanding of why and when cinema-goers are making their decisions. There is a need to deliver relevance, engagement and talkability across genres.

- What's been your most creative film promotion of the year?

We're very proud of our digital solutions on current releases such as The Men Who Stare At Goats, Paranormal Activity and Law Abiding Citizen utilising iPhone apps and integrated channel solutions on Xbox Live. We successfully repositioned Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker earlier in the year. The release had limited opportunity as a rendition of the Iraq war and by refocusing our strategy towards the action-based elements of the film we successfully optimised our ROI.

- How much can an agency do to generate hype around movies such as This Is It or Paranormal Activity, or is it mostly momentum and natural word of mouth that creates this?

Every now and again a release comes along with such a weight of hype behind it you find it hard to believe it won't work - Paranormal Activity being a timely case study. It's virtually impossible to deliver that level of coverage and implicit endorsement through the media buy alone. Our objective is to facilitate the spread of that buzz through viral elements and social, mobile and user-generated channels as well as building a sense of scale.

- How impressed are you by 3D cinema and how can it best be promoted through advertising when most people don't have 3D media at home?

Anyone who has seen the 15-minute preview of Avatar in 3D at the IMAX will be in no doubt as to how impressive this format can be. There are opportunities with augmented reality to create "3D" ads on your computer or iPhone as well as on digital screens out-of-home, special builds, lenticular and interactive posters or more standard online overlays but it's not the same. 3D in-game anyone?

- How much do film companies use ad/creative agencies?

Some releases come with attached pre-approved artwork from the US or other territories so film companies can have their hands tied. There is a wealth of information to convey: title, release date, certificate, genre, plot, setting, period, cast, awards, critical acclaim etc. It's a specialist skillset so distributors tend to rely on experienced agencies.

- What's been your best experience in a cinema?

I am lucky enough to live near London's best cinema - the Lexi in Kensal Rise. Every time I go, I am reminded why people become so passionate about film.

Topics