Thursday, October 1

Marketing Movies: Why They're Different

According to Adweek, a new study by Stradella Road reveals that 73 percent of moviegoers first gain awareness of a new movie release from television and 70 percent from in-theater trailers, beating out word-of-mouth (46 percent) and the Internet (44 percent) and leaving billboards and newspaper advertising way, way behind.

However, beyond the initial exposure of a new movie commercial, an overwhelming number of people across all age groups have fully adopted digital technologies and increasingly depend on them to gain information about new movie releases and help with their decisions about which films to see. As with most advertising campaigns, television is effective to generate awareness but the Internet becomes the battleground in the decision-making process.

Key Findings From Stradella Road

• 94 percent of all moviegoers are online, across all age groups
• 86 percent of all demographic segments go online via a computer or mobile device once a day
• Moviegoers spend more time online (19.8 hours) than they do watching television (14.3 hours)
• 73 percent have profiles on social networking sites, and 69 percent watch online video content
• 93 percent report that they use Internet search to find information about new movie releases

What We Learned Marketing Indies

Our own experience marketing independent films demonstrated much of the same. Television, including news and reviews, dominated generating awareness. However, it was a strong personalized social media program that proved critical in creating a desire to see a film in theaters and prime audiences to purchase the DVD.

Social media also helped mitigate negative reviews, especially in that film fans would defend the film and point people to more positive reviews for a balanced perspective. But even more importantly, the social media program helped capture interested moviegoers and direct them to balanced insider information written by the producers (as opposed to a single critic's viewpoint).

The end result was a more passionate fan base, one that not only referred people to see/purchase the film, but also take a personal stake in the movie as fans were invited to become as close to the film creators — producers, directors, writers, and cast — as possible. While the independent film had several hurdles to overcome via traditional publicity (40 interview requests, but no A-list cast available to accept them) and mass media (a remarkably low budget and relatively few markets), fans wanted the film to succeed.

What Can Product Advertisers Learn From The Movies?

The flow of information for products and services works relatively the same way. While diminishing, traditional marketing has an expansive reach that provides an excellent opportunity to generate awareness. However, immediately following that awareness, consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet for information that will help them make purchasing decisions.

However, there is a piece of the equation that differs for products and services. One of the reasons that the public responds well to television advertising for movies is that movies are considered an important message whereas most products and services are only important to those selling them.

So, the hurdle most advertising creatives need to overcome is how to make what is the least important message in someone's life (an advertisement) into communication that can change behavior. Or, as Kurt Vonnegut once said, "You say what you have to say. But you have to learn how to say it in a way that people can see what you mean." Or in advertising, sometimes they have to "feel" what you mean. If they don't, you can talk all day about yourself and never move anyone.


Dean @ Pro Copy Tips on 10/1/09, 7:35 PM said...

One of the most effective movie marketing techniques I've seen is combining a movie teaser with a website that has extended content, such as a longer trailer or backstory information.

This works particularly well when a movie is being promoted on TV, since a computer is likely at hand. But with more people having mobile devices in the theater that can access the web, many can go to the movie site immediately.

Fascinating post. Thanks.

Rich on 10/6/09, 8:11 AM said...

Hey Dean,


A movie trailer and Web site with extended content is a must nowadays. On the projects we've worked on, almost every producer told us that they wish they would have started a social media program early.

However, there is a learning curve occurring in the industry right now. The propensity for most filmmakers is to invest every production cent into the movie, without considering how they might market the movie.

Most plan to leave that up to the distributing studio. Unfortunately, so many movies are passed over nowadays that this plan usually falls apart and the producers are left with a film that will not be marketed anywhere.

Instead, producers could create their fan base early and, thus, increase the chances that a studio will get behind it. In sum, producers have to do much more than trailer and backstory nowadays unless they have one of those few movies with major funding behind it.

All my best,


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