In the golden days of movie promotion, all that was required was to film a trailer to show in theaters and during primetime TV advertising spots. But the marketplace has changed drastically thanks to social media. Now, marketing’s most persuasive technique is to use their fans to influence other prospects and customers.
Lionsgate Studios used just such tactics to promote the upcoming “The Hunger Games” movie, based on the Suzanne Collins novel. The studio also engaged in some traditional movie marketing techniques, such as giving away posters, features on magazine covers, and heavy advertising. But the crux of their campaign was the yearlong plan to target content platforms that their young target market frequent.
They started with a strong logo to represent the brand, a golden symbol of a “mockingjay” inscribed in a circle on a black field, a motif from both the book and the movie. This logo was featured on several movie blogs to spur interest. They started garnering more attention by hosting several social media events, such as a Facebook contest and a scavenger hunt on Twitter.
The studio found a huge advantage in the movie’s existing fan base: readers of the wildly popular Suzanne Collins novel trilogy. However, the movie has highly controversial subject matter, children murdering other children for the entertainment of a totalitarian government. This made crafting a marketing campaign that was conservative in it’s depiction of violence, yet enticing to young viewers an intricate problem.
The solution was even more intricate. The marketing team created a yearlong, day-by-day chronology of marketing efforts. They planned, a year in advance, all of their Twitter and Facebook posts, with timing down to the minute of posting.
To overcome the potentially controversial perception of the film, Lionsgate’s chief marketing officer, Tim Palen, suggested not showing any combat scenes in the trailer. At first his team was incredulous, but it turned out to be a great way to sidestep the issue, yet entice people into movie theaters under the implication, “if you want to watch the games, you have to buy a ticket.”
Lionsgate has been very careful to release very small portions of content in their marketing messages. Through meticulous planning and execution they have created a social media campaign that gives young markets a taste, which becomes an insatiable appetite for “The Hunger Games.”
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