Hands up if you’ve ever seen a commercial or advertisement for a film!
Yep, movie marketing campaigns are some of the most attention-grabbing pieces of marketing out there, and there are ones aimed at just about every single person out there.
With so much going on, these days movie makers have almost always got to do more than just put out an incredible trailer that leaves viewers desperate for more. (Although that always helps). You may be surprised at just how wide-reaching these amazing movie marketing campaigns are.
From the producers of some of the best-printed T-shirts around (if we do say so ourselves), we bring you…
Blair Witch Project
This is the granddaddy of today’s movie advertising strategies. Known to some as the best viral marketing campaign of all times, it is basic by today’s standards, but at the time it was truly revolutionary. It was 1999 after all, the internet was just getting started and marketers weren’t really worried about “going viral”.
A year before releasing the film, the production company made a website that told the story of the legend starting from 1785. They say that the families of the missing had asked the production company to make a movie about the story for them. There are police photos, footage of news coverage, interviews with the family members and even parts of a journal from one of the three filmmakers. If you tried to look up the main actors on the IMDB pages, they showed up as “missing, presumed dead.” The team passed out missing person posters, too.
Sacha Baron Cohen’s outrageous character Borat was originally presented as a real, actual character, and the film played off of this. He was already pretty well known in the UK, but stateside he was nearly completely unknown. He appeared on late night shows and did interviews in character, doing a pointed job of skewering American culture, often to bewilderment. Most people didn’t know what to make of this very friendly but entirely clueless foreign journalist. Even when the outrageous film came out, a lot of people were still wondering what was real and what wasn’t, so much so that Salon actually published an article separating truth from fact.
The Dark Knight
This installation of the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman series started its advertising campaign over a year before the film actually came out. The first step was a fake campaign for the politician Harvey Dent that was centred around a very clever website. They also ran scavenger hunts in different cities, created and distributed a fictional newspaper called The Gotham Times and even created cakes with cellphones baked into them that fans could later use to ring up the Joker. They also left Joker playing cards with “HA HA” in comic book stores. They also threw in a handful of more traditional movie marketing campaign tactics, like gripping teasers and trailers and eye-catching posters. The results? 11 million people participated and spent $1 billion in ticket sales across the world, meaning there were a massive number of people in theatres on opening night. And a couple of awards for the campaign, including the Cannes Lions Cyber Grand Prix Award and the Silver Cyber Award.
Note: You might also be interested in reading’9 of the best video game marketing campaigns ever.’
Deadpool really broke the rules when it comes to advertising. It was offbeat, unconventional and quite frankly, borderline inappropriate a lot of the time. They made fun of movie clichés, creating a “teaser for a trailer”, then an actual trailer, then a “12 Days of Deadpool” series of small pieces of content to get viewers ready for the second trailer’s release on Christmas. In total, there were 16 different clips for the TV that used almost identical footage in totally different ways. The posters also walked a fine line, with taglines like “Witness the beginning of a happy ending”, with Deadpool posing seductively on a bearskin rug in front of a roaring fire.
The Fault in Our Stars
This film is based on a book of the same name that was a massive hit with teenagers. If you’re not familiar, it’s a story about two teens with cancer who meet and fall in love. Cue lots of tears and teenage angst. So, the best place for the film version to promote itself was on social media sites that are popular with teens, like Instagram and Tumblr (where it actually hosted its official site). There were plenty of swoon-worthy photos of the stars of the film, as well as peeks behind the scenes and on set in a video, GIF and photo format. Author of the book John Green was also allowed to be on set and to share information, and he regularly tweeted out snippets of information that eager fans devoured. On top of that, they recruited brand ambassadors to spread the word even further. 20,000 people volunteered! That’s 20,000 people who were willing to do lots of free publicity. They did such a good job of getting the word out on social media that when the actors made appearances, events had to be shut down because there were just too many people in the crowd. All we have to say is #TFIOS #FTW.