Rapidly advancing technology is changing the way film makers connect with their audience. No longer is it enough in movie promotion to create a flashy trailer and blitz mainstream TV channels a week or two before release.
Nowadays the media, and as a result the audience, is fragmented into numerous sub-channels and niches. Reaching them requires a far more nuanced approach.
Shifting Technology, Shifting Tactics for Movie Promotion
Understanding these shifts in technology is becoming an important part of the film making process for everyone from the director and down. A most recent case in point comes is provided by Jason Mangold, who directed the fall release of ‘The Wolverine’ and is a big advocate of embracing technology.
Mangold’s approach epitomizes the need to consider all angles of promotion. From the more familiar DVD/Blu-ray extras to advanced support content, like a free game app, and shifting release dates across digital media, the tactics employed to get a movie in front of viewers span platforms and price points. The game in particular pushes things further still by involving the audience in the world of Wolverine, recreating a high-speed bullet train fight scene from the movie and encouraging players to snap a selfie to share with the world. That this also connects with the disc-based version shows the growing importance of syncing different media experiences, as well as driving fans to push user-generated content out into the world.
As ‘The Wolverine’ demonstrates the value of another familiar character, Ron Burgundy, has been exemplifying the creative use of social media before a movie hits the silver screen. In promoting the highly-anticipated Anchorman 2, Will Ferrell has been everywhere as the classic character, from traditional broadcast TV spots to spanning social channels. Where the tactics have changed in this case is that these promotions not only support one another, but have been rolling out for months. The release of Anchorman 2 is still a couple of weeks away at the time of writing, yet almost every channel you could imagine has been covered to raise awareness.
The risk of over-saturation is a note of caution to be raised, but the overall importance of navigating fragmented media channels will more often trump that risk. As this is still a relatively new area, let’s err on the side of fortune favoring the brave.
Pictures As Property
Although the popularity of subscription model video-on-demand services is clear and growing, the need to cater to those viewers who still want to own the movie is one that studios must maintain. Not only are the profit margins on these products larger, the fans also tend to be more deeply invested in the film, making them a valuable section of the audience to keep happy.
The game app is mentioned above is just the tip of the iceberg. When we consider the value of the full video game industry, in addition to the sales of digital content and even merchandise, it pushes home just how important it is to remember that one piece of content supports another. A series of social media posts may be considered ‘fluff’ but that changes when some of those who viewed them purchase a product.
Not only must the use of new technology now be explored for movie promotion, it must synchronize with the overall branding effort. This means telling pieces of the story across different media, involving the audience where possible, and directing everything in a way that naturally leads viewers to both the film’s release and the products that follow it.