Category Archives: Marketing & Promotions

Is Advertising a Movie During the Super Bowl Really Worth $4 Million?

Super Bowl XLVIII Movie Spots

In the run up to Super Bowl XLVIII last week a non-industry friend remarked how absurd they thought it was for Hollywood studios to spend $4 million to purchase a 30-seocnd television commercial during the game. That’s how much Paramount Pictures paid for its spots promoting “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and the Russell Crowe starrer “Noah”. Sony shelled out just as much to tease “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, as did Disney for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”.

Spending what appears to be a big chunk of a film’s marketing budget on a single spot seemed wasteful to my friend and they just couldn’t see how the math penciled out. Initially, neither could I… that is until I sharpened my pencil and ran all the numbers as we’ll go over in a moment.

First, for those readers not in the United States (as we have many) and who aren’t familiar with the Super Bowl, it is the annual championship game in American football. Each season culminates with two National Football League teams emerging from a round of playoffs to square off in a single game that is watched on television by tens of millions throughout the U.S. alone. It is often one of the most viewed television broadcasts each year.

In fact, since the year 2000, when 88.5 million viewers tuned in, the average audience for the Super Bowl has increased 25% to 111.5 million viewers this year. At least that’s according to the official numbers published by Nielsen, the company that keeps track of such data. Three of the last four Super Bowl broadcasts have set average viewership records.

Super Bowl Viewership Graph

In that same time frame the cost of running a 30-second Super Bowl commercial rose 90% from USD $2.1 million in 2000 to this year’s USD $4 million price tag. Despite the high cost of advertising during the game’s broadcast demand for doing so has never waned and ad inventory has always sold out.

And here’s why. Super Bowl ad buys are a huge bargain.

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AMC Theatres Expands Content Marketing Efforts With “Versus”

YouTube Preview Image

AMC Theatres is taking a page out of the latest marketing play books with its new online series “Versus”. The first episode was posted to their website, via YouTube, on Tuesday, January 28th.

The show is hosted by blogger John Campea and the format centers around two opposing advocates defending their viewpoints on a hotly contested issue. At least that’s Campea explains it. Not sure determining who gives the better super hero performance, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man or Christian Bale as Bat Man, is an issue that is either hot or all that contested. Even so, “Versus” marks AMC’s latest attempt at content marketing.

If you haven’t heard the phrase “content marketing” yet, I can assure you that will change soon enough. By the end of 2014 you’ll be bombarded with so much content marketing the mere mention of the practice might send you running in the opposite direction. You know, kind of like the way traditional marketing does now.

That’s actually why content marketing was born in the fist place; consumers stopped responding to traditional marketing methods, so corporations began to attract their attention by producing and distributing relevant and informative content. The marketing technique requires the creation of media such as e-books, blogs, magazines, videos, podcasts, etc. that enhance the entire category in which a company operates.

Some classic, often cited, examples of content marketing include the Lego Club and its associated magazine, which help promotes Lego and the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Hub, an online health resource published by the academic medical center. Probably the paradigm that sets the bar for most content marketers is the Red Bulletin, a magazine for adventuresome thrill seekers published monthly by Red Bull, which manufactures an energy drink. Red Bull has proven that the readership of the Red Bulletin matches the demographics of the customers they are trying to acquire. It’s also served to raise the public’s awareness of the brand itself.

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CBS Films Masters The Art of Social Media Marketing

Inside Llewyn Davis New York Times AdUsing Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram to advertise and promote a new or upcoming film release isn’t exactly a new concept. Distributors have been incorporating social media campaigns as part of their marketing efforts for the past several years now. However, most attempts at building awareness via social media have been learning experiences and results have varied widely. In other words, not all distributors are capable of exploiting social media to its fullest.

CBS Films, on the other hand, has proven over the past few days that they have mastered the art of marketing via social media.

On Saturday, January 4th, CBS placed a full page advertisement in the New York Times for their current release, “Inside Llewyn Davis”, the latest Coen Brothers film. That, in and of itself, isn’t so unique, but rather it was the content of the ad which caught everyone’s attention: a single Twitter post (also known as a tweet) from New York Times film critic A.O. Scott.

The ad placement turned out to be a marketers dream come true, as it soon went viral with countless mentions on Twitter, Facebook and photo replications showing up on Instagram. Then there were all the journalists who posted stories about the ad on their respective blogs. What CBS managed to do is brilliantly intermingle promotional mediums creating the ultimate self-reflexive marketing Mobius; a traditional newspaper advertisement featuring a Twitter post which people then reference in their own tweets and blog posts.

Granted, part of the reason for the ad getting so much attention was the “controversy” over whether 1) using A.O. Scott’s tweet without his permission was against Twitter’s terms of service and 2) whether it was ethical to edit the content of the original tweet which read.

You all keep fighting about Wolf of Wall St. and Am Hustle. I’m gonna listen to the Llewyn Davis album again. Fare thee well, my honeys.

The tweet as published in the ad removed the first sentence, which referenced “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “American Hustle”, two films that are competing with “Inside Llewyn Davis” for top honors during the current awards’ season. In yet another example that there is no such thing as bad publicity, the debate only served to expand the reach of the original ad in the Times well beyond the newspaper.

And in a turn of events that couldn’t be more meta, Scott himself used Twitter to comment on his tweet being used in the ad, setting off another chain of Facebook and blog posts:

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For Your iConsideration: Internet Streaming Overtakes DVD Distribution For Awards Screeners

For Your iConsideration

For the first time ever, Internet platforms have overtaken DVDs for distributing the largest number of “awards screeners” to industry professionals voting for year-end accolades. This post gives a breakdown analysis of the various streaming and download formats, with iTunes and Vimeo battling for the top position while fending off smaller rivals.

With the movie awards season upon us, Hollywood studios and independent distributors are fighting to get their films seen by the voting members of AMPAS (the Oscars), BAFTA, HFPA (Golden Globes) and the various film professional guilds (DGA, WGA, SAG, et al). Though studios prefer voting members to see their films in cinemas, the reality is that many will have to watch them at home on so-called “screeners”, particularly given the glut of prestigious films released towards the end of the year. Traditionally this has meant sending out VHS tapes (in the 90s) and ultimately DVDs, which tend to have embedded watermarks that are either visible (‘This DVD screener is the property of Studio X and not to be re-distributed’) or invisible (identifying the voting member it was sent to via a unique code).

The cost of sending out thousands of DVDs to the various voting members can be enormous, even for big distributors, particularly if they are individually watermarked. For films released earlier in the year commercial DVDs are often used, but recent releases like “The Wolf of Wall Street” or “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” need to be individually watermarked so they can be traced back to whom it was sent, in case this version is ripped and uploaded to the Internet, as has occurred in the past. Various attempts at new technology has been tried, such as Dolby’s encrypted DVD Cinea format, which involved sending a modified DVD player to each voting member of BAFTA and AMPAS. While working technically, it proved too cumbersome for voters who were often away from home over the holiday and couldn’t watch the encrypted DVDs on regular DVD players while traveling. Some studios have also begun sending Blu-Ray discs, with Warner Bros. first and Universal Pictures following last year.

This year Internet distribution has emerged as the cost-effective method preferred by smaller distributors, with many turning to streaming or downloading as the best way to catch the eye of voting members, at least in this case those of BAFTA, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

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Anchorman 2: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’s Massive Marketing Campaign

'Anchorman 2' Teams Up With Jockey

If “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” should fail at the box office when it opens in most territories on December 18th, it won’t be for lack marketing. In fact, Paramount Pictures, the studio releasing the film, and actor Will Ferrell, who plays the movie’s title character, have been on what seems to be an unprecedented campaign to build awareness of the movie’s upcoming release. At this point if you don’t know that “Anchorman 2” is hitting cinemas in a couple of days, you may not be human or might possibly be living on another planet.

The movie is a sequel to the 2004 comedy “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”. Set in the 1970s, the film features Ferrell as a Scotch soaked San Diego newscaster who gets demoted after being demoted upon the arrival of a female anchor, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate). Along with reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) and sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), Burgundy cooks up a plan to get his old job back. A modest success theatrically, the film made USD $91 million worldwide, though become a pop culture sensation once it hit home video.

The marketing efforts for “Anchorman 2” got underway even before principal photography began. In March of 2012, Ferrell put in a surprise appearance on Conan, a late night talk show, dressed in full Ron Burgundy regalia and tooting on the faux newscaster’s trademark flute. Never breaking character Ferrell, as Burgundy, told the ecstatic audience that there would indeed be an “Anchorman 2”. That kind of viral marketing stunt has been duplicated en masse as the initial release of the sequel nears.

“Anchorman 2” has so many cross promotional deals, marketing tie-ins and licensing deals it is hardly possible to cover them in a single blog post. I wonder if there is even anyone at Paramount Pictures that has been able to keep an accurate count. (I’m sure there is, though they’ve probably had to put in a ton of overtime). This doesn’t even take into account press appearences and social media campaigns, all of which have been shuffled into the marketing deck en route to achieving total awareness of the movie.

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Fox Comes Up Blank For “Book Thief” Advertisement

New York Times Book Thief Ad

If you happened to pick up today’s print issue of the New York Times you may have been thrown by what looked like a printing error; pages 9 and 10 of the main A section were blank.

These were not, however, pages that slipped past the printing press untouched. Rather the blank pages were purposefully included as an advertisement for Twentieth Century Fox’s upcoming release “The Book Thief“.

While most print advertisements contain slick artwork or loads of text detailing a products attributes, the “Book Thief” promo takes the opposite approach of halting readers in their tracks and asking them to take the additional step of visiting a website to learn more.

Each page has the New York Times header, page number and date printed in its usual spot at the top of the page. The second “blank” page actually has “wordsarelife.com” printed at the bottom, which is the address of the film’s website.

“The Book Thief” is the film adaptation of Mark Zusak’s novel, which tells the story of a young girl living in Nazi Germany during World War II. Directed by Brian Percival and starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, the movie is slated for release on November 15th.

An announcement about the campaign from the New York Times Company explained:

The underlying message of the advertising campaign, “imagine a world without words,” echoes the film’s narrative, which follows a young girl in WWII Nazi Germany who begins to steal books from war-torn areas and share them with others.

The campaign has had the added benefit of generating news coverage from the likes of Deadline and Indiewire, which certainly helps build awareness of the film. Heck, even we’re writing about it.

What do you think of Fox’s promotional campaign for “The Book Thief”? Let us know in the comments section below.

Regal Hopes To Revive “Machete Kills” With Deep Discounting

Regal's Machete Kills Promotion.jpgWhen “Machete Kills” opened in North America on October 11th, more than a few media outlets took the easy route when reporting its disappointing box office returns by referring to the film as “DOA” (as in dead on arrival).

After witnessing the disappointing debut of “Machete Kills”, Regal, the largest cinema chain in the world, is being proactive in trying to bolster the revenue potential of the screens on which the title is booked.

The circuit has emailed a buy-one-get-one-free offer for the release to members of its Crown Club loyalty program. Members will receive one free ticket to “Machete Kills” for every ticket they purchase to see the film on Saturday, October 19th. To make the offer more enticing (if that’s possible), Regal is also throwing in a free small popcorn with each ticket.

Before the adoption of digital cinema, theatre chains such as Regal may have opted to not book a box office dud for a second week. However, the virtual print fee (VPF) deals under which a majority of cinemas now operate require a release to be played for a minimum number of weeks to qualify for a payment. That is not to say this is the case with Regal and “Machete Kills”, merely an observation.

Movie Tickets and Digital Downloads Prove To Be An Ideal Bundle

Cineplex SuperTicket

Over this past summer Cineplex, Inc., Canada’s largest exhibitor commanding 78% of the market, experimented with a new product offering it has dubbed SuperTicket. It seems to be a great idea for all involved. The concept behind the product is simple; sell a ticket for a film’s theatrical release in combination with a digital copy of the title. The catch is that the cost of a SuperTicket starts at CAD $19.99, twice the price of a standard admission at CAD $9.99, and the moviegoer must wait until the film is released on home video to receive the digital download of the film.

The first three films to receive the SuperTicket treatment were “Pacific Rim”, “Smurfs 2″ and “Kick-Ass 2″. Even with the previously mentioned caveats the pilot must have proven effective enough that Cineplex is now looking to expand the program.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Paramount Pictures followed Cineplex’s lead and created what it calls a Mega Ticket for one of its tentpole releases this past summer. Moviegoers purchasing tickets to “World War Z” in select locations were offered a bundle that included a ticket to see the film two days before release, a digital copy of the movie upon home video release, a poster for the film, a small popcorn and limited edition 3D glasses, all for the “low” price of USD $50. That is a hefty increase of at least four times as much as a regular movie ticket, yet four out of the five theatres in which the experiment was conducted sold out entirely.

While this may not be the way a majority of cinema-goers wish to purchase tickets, I believe more cinema chains should create such programs as it is a viable offering for certain releases. Here are a few reasons why this is a win-win for everyone, including the customer:

  • Technology – Due to the adoption of broadband connectivity in the home it is relatively easy and fast for a moviegoer to download or stream a feature length film to their home computer or DVR. Trying to bundle DVDs or Blu-Rays with movie tickets is logistically cumbersome since a patron would have to return to the cinema to collect their copy once a film was released to home video. A win for both exhibitors, distributors and customers.
  • Ancillary Recoupment – Speaking of DVDs, the trade association Digital Entertainment Group reports that disc sales have declined 20% since the heyday of 2004. This leaves studios without a revenue stream they once relied upon to recoup production costs. Digital sales, however, are on the rise with downloads up 35% and streaming up 45%. In other words, distributors are giving customers a product they want, in a form that is increasingly more preferred, allowing the studios to rebuild their home video business. A win for distributors.
  • Incremental Revenue – While we’re on the subject of revenue streams, let’s keep in mind exhibitors don’t normally sell home video products, either physical or digital. Every dollar a cinema operator makes selling such offerings, no matter the method, is a dollar they weren’t historically capable of earning. A win for exhibitors.

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Viral Video Marketing Campaign Builds Awareness For “Carrie” Remake

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One movie marketing trend that has proven most effective over the past several years is the use of viral videos. These short videos are crafted to promote and build awareness of a specific movie by having viewers pass them along to friends and family, thus marketing a new film.

The most recent example of such a marketing campaign was produced by Sony Pictures for their upcoming release “Carrie”, a remake of the classic 1976 horror film which is based on a best selling Stephen King novel. The previous adaptation starred Sissy Spacek and was directed by Brian De Palma whereas the most most recent iteration is helmed by Kimberly Pierce and stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore.

Rather than feature footage of the movie being marketed, these viral videos play off the themes and content of each film. The video for “Carrie” is a well rehearsed stunt rigged and staged in sNice Cafe, a New York City coffee shop chain with three locations, including one in Greenwich Village. The concept plays off reactions of unwitting cafe patrons who are shocked and frightened as a disturbed woman uses here telekinetic powers to throw a man across the room, scatter the restaurant’s tables and chairs and send books flying from shelves.

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AMC Theatres Offers Federal Employees Free Popcorn

AMC Federal Employee Popcorn Promotion

Coming up with some unique angle on AMC Theatres free popcorn deal for federal employees is nearly impossible. Over the last 24-hours apparently every media outlet worth their salt (pun intended) must have been required to write nearly identical pieces on the cinema chain’s altruistic announcement.

We at least have an excuse for covering the four paragraph press release from AMC Theatres; Celluloid Junkie is specifically focused on motion picture exhibition and distribution. After all, a bucket of popcorn serves as our logo.

This is actually a devilishly brilliant move by AMC on a couple of fronts. First off, their press release was picked up by the likes of CNN, the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post and… well, us, of course. By having the popcorn promotion piggy back off a hot political current event AMC’s media hits were off the charts. Secondly, many of the federal employees AMC is hoping to reach with the announcement have been sidelined since Tuesday by an unpopular government shutdown due to budgetary reasons. There are at least 800,000 furloughed workers who suddenly find themselves with some extra time on their hands. AMC is simply offering government employees one suggestion for any newfound, though unwanted, time off.

AMC didn’t exactly try to hide the fact that they are exploiting the situation. John McDonald, executive vice president of Operations at AMC, came out and admitted as much when he said:

“There are hundreds of thousands of federal workers whose lives are being impacted. While we can’t do anything to resolve gridlock in Washington D.C., we can provide a few hours of entertainment, and free popcorn, while they wait to get back to work.”

I suppose it’s a little much to suggest the promotion might even help sustain the economy during such trying times. But wouldn’t it be great if it could?

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