Developing a marketing program that delivers superior value to film productions is essential for marketers and creatives who want to optimize their film releases for maximum box office success. Marketing is the key.

Marketing is a very important element in the film industry. In fact, movie studios are marketing machines and focus a great deal of time on marketing. Independent filmmakers should learn from the major film studios as they truly understand marketing.

Movie Marketing Strategy

No matter how good a film is, without a well thought out and cost effective marketing campaign it will have little chance of success in a very crowded and competitive marketplace.

Marketing Movies

Studios promoting movies today are armed with more tools than ever before, especially when it comes to data. Leveraging real purchase data to identify fans and followers is where the future of movie marketing is headed. Movie marketers need to embrace the new technologies, and adapt to the way people are consuming content as well as the way people are chatting around content.

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The first step and the most important foundation of film marketing is the design and development of a website for the movie. This should be professionally designed and must be readily compatible with the upcoming social media marketing. The website will be the landing page for most of the social media marketing and paid advertising for the film. As a filmmaker, your film website is one of the most important tools for promoting and distributing your film. Your film website will provide an overview of your film, including why you made it and why your audience should care. As with any business promoting products, your film website needs to be responsive, well-designed, and professional. Although creating a website for your film may seem like an afterthought amidst the barrage of film festival entries and SAG dues, it could be the first impression which leads to your film’s success. Your website will go through two stages. The first stage of your film website is your pre-launch promotional stage. In the second stage, your website should evolve from the promotional stage to the full sale stage.


Once you have determined a budget then you have to decide whom to pitch your marketing to. If you produced a kids film, for example, you will probably want to target parents. There are many ways to find the right audience for a film. We use moviegoers data to assess the kinds of audiences who went to see similar films to build up an estimate of who will see what. Plus we do a lot of work with social media insights, which is a vital service for film marketers. Once you have found your audience and tone that is authentic to them, then it’s time to start building the trailer itself.


The next phase of movie marketing is to put together the first trailer and poster. Everything always goes back to the targeting and positioning of the film. If it’s a comedy you want to get two or three major laughs in there. It doesn’t seem to be a huge problem if you tell a lot of the story; people tend to forget that when they sit and watch the film. It doesn’t have to be linear, you can tell a story in the trailer out of sync with the film itself if it works in the trailer. It really depends; you just have to pick out key lines. You really have to decide what kind of story you want to tell in the trailer. Do you want to try to tell the story or give an essence of the film? Do you persuade people that it’s a slightly different kind of film than it maybe actually is? If it’s a comedy with dramatic moments, you might want to push the comedic side a little bit more. Ultimately all the trailer has to do is to get as many people as possible to think ‘I want to see that film’. You’re under no obligation to be true to the plot or to any particular elements of the film.


Once the studio completes the first trailer, that’s where creative agencies come back in. To get moviegoers to see these films, the creative agency does a vast range of things. The creative digital agency helps deliver marketing content to over 50 markets around the world, be that trailers or TV clips or social media content. Creating content from scratch, or localising it for the markets. That might be graphics changes into local languages, subtitles, or voice mix. In terms of ‘creating content from scratch’, that means chopping up the trailer into shorter clips or gifs for social media publication.


With the audience found, trailer complete, translations done, and social media assets finished, the campaign can launch to the public. Obviously the trailer will launch online, in cinemas, and on televisions too. Nowadays much more advertising spend goes on social media marketing than ever before. In the past, about 50% of the film marketing budget was spent on TV advertising and the other 50% was spent on online and social. It’s now 75% social and online and only 25% is committed to TV advertising. The shift in content is being driven by strategy and marketing spend on the studio side. The move into social has upped the volume. If a piece of content is used today, then it’s done. Then you need another piece of content tomorrow, and the day after, and so on. So it’s certainly changed the approach to marketing and the volumes of content we deal with.


The creative agency will create content and plan the strategy, delivering social insights initially to give the studio some pointers to dictate strategy. Then, we manage the posting plan, the whole campaign management with content creation to go along the way. We take control of the social channels. We write postings and lay out an entire posting plan to accompany each asset that we post. We lay that entire plan out across the lifecycle of the campaign. Because we’re doing that, we know the content that we want to create that fits our strategy. We do it all under one roof –  we have a content creation team, we have social campaign management, we have social insights. In terms of social media strategy, we use native platform analytics as well as our social listening tool to understand when account followers and people talking about certain titles are online and are likely to engage. This can vary by day or even hour so we integrate the timing insights into our content calendars. Based on who the target audience are we can understand more about behavioural patterns and interests of a particular segment we are interested in.


Once the first trailer has dropped, a film can start to generate a bit of buzz. Some films have an incredibly positive reaction to the first trailer. In contrast, other trailers might be met with disappointment. Social monitoring gives marketers and film studios time to react. Audience reaction to the first trailer is quite informative. If a character is poorly received, we can let the studio know that so that when they’re building up the next trailer drop, they can put more positive images or content in the next trailer, or put a different twist on a character. Because first trailer is quite far out from release, there’s time to change the campaign. And try to influence more positive response with the next piece of content so that by the time we come to the movie hopefully those who’ve been negative about it will change their minds. We start monitoring the title as early as possible to be able to inform the direction of any marketing activity including social media activity. On-going social media tracking is essential in order to identify any crises or negative publicity very early on and react to them in a timely manner.


From there, the strategy is simple: keep creating a buzz. Movie marketing consists of lots of social media advertising at a frequent rate. The social media campaigns will share new bits of content every day, or even multiple times per day. We will also use social media listening tools to figure out a posting strategy that works. We use a variety of tools and approaches to inform our messaging and content strategy prior and during a social media campaign. These include owned and earned conversation analysis around relevant topics, talent, competitors and so on, as well as audience tracking to get a holistic view of how, when and where they talk about certain subject matters. The second and third trailers can use the reaction to the first to make any adjustments in the marketing message.


The other major part of a film’s marketing cycle (usually closer towards release date) is using the talent. If a major actor or director can come in to talk to a prominent television show, newspaper, or magazine, that can generate even more interest in a film. You’ll do maybe a day or two day press junket where all the media can come in. All the big media programmes will send their journalists out to an interview slot. That is a massive part of it. What we do, we have a film crew here, we often go and shoot that for marketing purposes. Our film crew also shoots a lot of red carpet premieres on behalf of the studio. When we do that, we then, just like we do with all the interviews with talent, we will package a piece about that that we then put on our digital asset management system and distribution system and syndicate to the press. We will send out media alerts indicating availability of new content. Obviously the studio approves the content before it’s about to be released and that’s where all the media goes to pull out for their news pieces.


And, of course, once a film is out and the marketing cycle finishes, then it’s time to start it all again for the movie’s release at home. Of course, there are all kinds of permutations on this formula. If a film is nominated for an Oscar, for example, new marketing materials are crafted to build off that publicity. Still, what’s remarkable is how little the process has transformed over the years. But that could be about to change with data analytics informing the process more and more. With data on their side, movie marketers are only going to get better and better at building the hype for upcoming films. Expect to feel more excited about movie trailers in the next few years than you ever have been before.

Viral Impression Volume (VIV)

Social media Viral Impression Volume (VIV)—the number of movie posts, paid or organic metrics, that have been liked, commented upon, or shared by social media users’ friends—appeared to strongly impact box office performance, particularly in the weeks ahead of the release.

Digital Film Marketing

In the past, about 50% of the film marketing budget was spent on TV advertising and the other 50% was spent on online and social. It’s now 75% social and online, and only 25% is committed to TV advertising.

While TV remains a highly impactful movie marketing channel, digital advertising tops TV in some crucial areas of primary importance to movie marketers. Movie trailer commercials have lost marketing audience due to: 1) Audience fragmentation, which increased with the rise of cable programming, 2) DVRs which meant less people were watching commercials, in this case movie trailers, and 3) the popularity of streaming and on demand services.

Digital outlets were significantly more efficient at driving box office revenue than any type of offline media — TV included. For the most impactful marketing mix, the way forward is clear: movie marketers should continue investing in television, but capitalize on digital efficiency by shifting a portion of their TV dollars into digital media. On average, studios that shifted TV spend over to digital spend could see an increase in box office revenue. Further, earned viral activity (specifically Viral Impression Volume – VIV) driven by paid engagements could very well be an early indicator of box office success. Paid social media impacts earned engagements online, driving film-specific Google search activity, and viral film impressions. In other words, social media users who were exposed to studio ads in social media were also likely to share those ads with their friends, and to go to Google to learn more about the films.

Develop the marketing tools

Target marketing

Social media marketing

Creating the first trailer

Advertising Placements


Movie Trailers

Mobile content needs content that is shorter than the traditional length of trailers. Social media continues to have a significant impact.


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Tell us about your film marketing requirements or just say hello. Whether you have a movie in pre-production or filming a TV series or need some inspiration with a new film project, we are here to help you. From concept to creation, let us inspire you.

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