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Entertainment has been irrevocably changed by the introduction of streaming services and the explosion of franchise films. Netflix, Hulu and other providers that offer limitless content are competing with and complementing the film world, and it’s inevitable consumers who have grown accustomed to the easy access of streaming, skipping advertisements and franchise fandoms have changed their expectations when it comes to film marketing and promotion.
When you can watch anything anytime, you’re less likely to get excited about a movie coming out in a year. Evolving audience mindsets, among other factors like the growth of franchises, have changed the marketing landscape for films, leading to more condensed strategies.
“There’s an entire generation that is very skilled at skipping marketing,” said Michael Moses, President of Worldwide Marketing at Universal. “They don’t see television advertising. They can easily navigate around [advertising] in the digital space. But what does grab their attention is new content, especially that first trailer. So you are better off waiting until you can really pack a punch.”
A Deep Dive Understanding Of Audience Is Necessary With Condensed Movie Marketing
Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures spend a combined $4 billion in advertising worldwide, and, with the recent appointment of younger marketing chiefs last year at each company, have adopted more refined audience tracking tools among the big studios. New data tools are allowing studios better access to audience behavior data. Predictive analytics plus granular slicing and dicing of audience segments combined with sophisticated marketing optimization models can result in highly targeted promotional approaches that are more likely to be successful at driving big box office numbers. “We’re really able to find the audience and put materials under its nose,” Moses said. “You’re not doing as much shouting into a hurricane and hoping someone hears you.”
The Rise Of Marvel And Major Franchises Have Changed Movie Marketing
Avengers: Endgame provides a good example of a condensed promotional schedule – about five months – that relied on the existing fan base and allure of beloved characters from prior Marvel Comic Universe (MCU) movies. A longer marketing schedule isn’t always necessary when the anticipation is organic to the sequel structure and promotes itself among fans. However, condensed schedules don’t replace the importance of advertising to generate excitement about the film, create new audiences and push advance ticket sales when marketing campaigns finally launch.
The $200 million marketing budget for Endgame was the biggest in MCU history and included brand partnerships that hit audiences outside of traditional media. “As our fan universe expands with new characters and stories, so has our audience,” said Mindy Hamilton, Senior Vice President of Partnership Marketing at the Walt Disney Company. “We’ve grown beyond our target audience of traditional fanboys; now it’s Millennials, it’s teens, it’s multicultural and families. We look for partnerships that honor and celebrate in each of these.”
The collective 35 million social followers of the main stars from Endgame and the speculative content created by fans following the release of trailers, plus Marvel’s online push, traditional previews and pre-roll video, created a truly multichannel campaign alleviating the need for a long, drawn-out campaign prior to Endgame hitting theaters.
Condensed Marketing Campaigns Don’t Work For Every Movie
“It’s different for different films and different filmmakers,” said Blair Rich, Warner’s Worldwide Marketing Chief. “[Condensed movie marketing] may not work every time, and it also may be temporary — it could shift again.” Like all markets what works for one segment may not work for another. A smaller film, a film without a built-in fan base or one that is introducing entirely new characters in a previously popular universe may require more time to finesse interest, which reinforces once again how important it is to know your audience so that proper targeting is possible.