Repost of our CEO Adam’s blog post earlier this week with the second part of his manifesto for marketing film content .
Following my previous post on film marketing content, a manifesto if you will I wanted to look more at what film marketing content of the future will look like.
This is a business that for the last 30 years has focused mainly around key art (posters), trailers (designed for the cinema environment) and TV spots (representing the lions share of marketing spend). In more recent years we have seen more interactive material such as web-sites (destinations), games and social content.
Believe it or not, on a film set, the core content creation that exists at production stage is high end photography for magazines and EPK content for TV. Yes, the one time you have at your disposal the entire cast and crew and there is no focus on creating a marketing strategy, multi platform content or any consideration for the lifecycle of the product.
This is all set to change. I personally don’t believe that the production stage is the right time to start your marketing campaign. There are of course exceptions, but on the whole, its too early. Audiences these days don’t tend to decide what they are going to see until much closer to release (often up to release week or release day itself) so any marketing done 18 months pre release could be considered wastage. Don’t get me wrong, if marketing budgets were limitless, you would start your awareness campaign as soon as you possibly could, but given budgets are tight, there is not enough in the pot to afford the kind of momentum and maintenance you need for an 18 month campaign and turning the content tap on and off is a risky strategy.
However, what you can do at production stage is the following:
1. Develop your marketing strategy – this doesn’t need to wait until 8-12 weeks pre-release. Understand what you have as soon as you can
2. This allows you to develop your lifecycle content strategy – content that can be used throughout the theatrical campaign or banked for other windows such as In Home
3. Multi-platform content creation – the cast often have plenty of time on set so leveraging that opportunity to design and build multi-platform content that can be used throughout the lifecycle of the campaign whether it is social, mobile, TV or print related content
These are low cost no brainers! Ask any film marketer and they will tell you their biggest frustration is a lack of content too late. It is essential to use audience insights, understand what content drives intent to view, and create content strategies and activations around key intent drivers. There is no reason that can’t happen at production stage. Just be cautious around the phasing of using this content. Better to have too much content too soon and decide how to use it than too little too late.
Moving forward, there will be less focus on TV spots and to a degree key art. Film marketing shouldn’t begin with a poster and end with a TV spot as it does currently. Trailers will hold their importance in the film marketing calendar but for me, trailers designed for the cinema shouldn’t be the same as the trailers we view online and through social and mobile channels. We all know that 2:30 is too long for a piece of video content.
Broadly speaking, content will come down to two important elements
1. Audio-visual – this will be video content designed for relevant platforms such as mobile and YouTube. This is where your audience is, create content for them on the platforms they use.
2. Images – still images that can be found through social channels and news feeds
Imagery is key but it can’t be lazy. Photography, images from the movie and posters to a degree are talking AT your audience not WITH them. Make images more relevant tapping into your audience’s personal or news agenda. We call this social news-jacking but it has many names. Principally it is relevant content for the relevant audience on the relevant platforms.
This is not to say some of the more traditional forms of content are no longer relevant or worthy. But the focus needs to change. It is still an industry committed to more traditional channels and therefore lives and breathes through creating more traditional content. It is a business that uses a lack of evaluation metrics on newer platforms to justify its commitment to older platforms that have an equal lack of ROI metrics. The whole industry knows that it is no longer about age but behaviours. You simply cannot look at your audience in TV buying clusters, you now need to consider their behaviours and the platforms they engage with. Gravity wasn’t a movie for 16-34’s. There is no reason a 50 year old wouldn’t see and enjoy Edge Of Tomorrow etc.
As I have said many times before, the job that needs to be done is one of awareness, engagement and influence. Let’s rip up the existing model and start using film production effectively, using insights to drive comms and content strategy at an earlier stage, create content for multiple platforms, think more about the lifecycle of the product, use a wide range of mass market platforms such as mobile and stop focusing on old hat methods such as launching campaigns with a poster and focusing so much attention on what your TV spots look like.
Can I hear an amen?