Media: Strategy Analysis - From Spider-Man to arachnamania

Brand: Spider-Man 2

Client: Columbia TriStar Theatrical

Brief: Position the film as the "must-see" movie of 2004 in a summer

packed full of high-profile releases

Target audience: Core lovers of the original Spider-Man movie, families

and 16- to 34-year-olds

Budget: £3 million


Media: Toby Heiser at Manning Gottlieb OMD

Creative: Empire Design (press and outdoor), Lipsync (TV and radio)

Ambient: Haygarth

STRATEGY Spider-Man 2 was the sequel to the highly successful 2002 action blockbuster.

Manning Gottlieb OMD needed the new film to be seen as a major event, and set out to demonstrate the film's groundbreaking special effects through media execution and placement.

The campaign had to connect not only with lovers of the original Spider-Man movie but also with a wider audience of families and 16- to 34-year-olds.

MG OMD's goals demanded a strategy that immersed the population in arachnamania.

To a backbone of cover-building TV and outdoor formats, the agency added precision-targeted premium outdoor locations, special buys on TV, rich-media internet streaming, press copy, stickered postcards in schools, special builds and innovative outdoor formats and lighting techniques.


PTV The campaign kicked off with a 60-second spot in the first Big Brother live eviction, followed by a heavyweight targeted TV campaign focusing on the under-34 age bracket, with a particular focus on boys aged ten to 15. Each campaign was planned and bought as a separate entity, timed and weighted to achieve its specific goal.

This was backed up with a competition and promotion on Fox Kids and placements of a documentary, The Making of Spider-Man 2,on five and E4.

PPress Whole-page ads featured fake editorial copy with Spider-Man breaking out through the newspaper.

POutdoor Visually strong images lent themselves to a combination of large-format posters, six-sheets and bus sides. The six-sheets and bus sides delivered access to parents and children, while large-format posters and special builds positioned the movie as an event and gave a taster of the special effects. Bus T-sides were used to compensate for low cut-through of six-sheets in London. Aslo used were key premium sites such as the M4 Tower (Spider-Man 2 was the first film to advertise at this site), bus rears and bus mega-sides were also used, as were imposing 96-sheet spreads on the London Underground, and some special-build backlit 48-sheets.

As the creative worked better in portrait format, the agency had outdoor contractors turn a number of 48-sheets from landscape to portrait just for this campaign.

POnline Rich-media streaming of the trailer into homepages of key sites, and homepage re-branding and takeovers to coincide with the film launch.

PAmbient A month before release, MG OMD placed half a million die-cut stickered postcards in schools to interest children and encourage a viral element, with the stickers being stuck on exercise books, lockers, school corridors, etc.

PRadio Heavyweight support using critics' comments to tap into the drivetime audience when parents and children are listening together.


In the UK, awareness tracking showed 98 per cent awareness of Spider-Man 2 before the opening weekend. A third of the population stated it was their first choice of film to see at the cinema that weekend.

Spider-Man 2 took £8.6 million at the box office in its opening weekend (up 18 per cent on the first Spider-Man film) and is about to pass the £27 million mark. It was the third-highest- grossing film of 2004, beaten only by the mega-franchises of Shrek 2 and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

THE VERDICT: Tim Allnutt, head, Naked Inside

This is a great brief: position Spider-Man 2 as the "must-see" movie of the summer. The Spider-Man franchise is packed with rich content and imagery to build a campaign around. There's a sizeable spend over a fixed and relatively tight window of opportunity, and an audience eagerly awaiting the sequel: all the ingredients for some really creative and memorable communications.

The results seem to demonstrate that this campaign certainly put bums on seats.

Awareness was delivered. Revenues were up on the first release. I saw the promotion, saw the film and really enjoyed it.

However, I can't help feeling that with a brief such as this, media might have contributed more to the overall level of excitement and buzz generated around the launch. Undoubtedly, media proved an effective vehicle for the delivery of the creative message. It ensured that a simple and well-branded creative message was delivered to shed-loads of the right people, lots of times. Not subtle, but it worked.

But, I wonder how different the construction of the media plan would have been if this had been for Shrek 2, The Day After Tomorrow or any other big-budget blockbuster. The author of this strategy briefly mentions ambient (stickers in schools) and an interesting use of online. But fundamentally, this film launch follows a tried and tested formula - mass-coverage media used to promote the release date. The brief sets the objective of "demonstrating the film's groundbreaking special effects through media execution and placement" - in effect, bringing the content of the film to life to build anticipation. There are loads of opportunities available to the comms planner these days to make this happen (events, interactive content, promotions, partnerships, stunts), and there can't be many films with so much great imagery and content waiting to be creatively exploited.

However, it's easy to critique a strategy in a theoretical context. In reality, film companies tend to be risk-averse. You only get one chance to launch, and when the trusted formula works, why risk something different?

Maybe that's the very reason to try something new - a little more creativity in a formulaic sector might create the extra buzz that film launches look for.

SCORE: 2/5.

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