Give Fans What They Want: Escaping Traditional Film Marketing

Third Street Promenade by Elizabeth Schmidt

In 1999 The Blair Witch Project introduced an interactive marketing strategy using the Internet as a portal of deceptive information. The film distributed fake news articles and videos, going so far as to convince the up and coming IMDB website to list the actors as missing.

This campaign kickstarted what is now becoming a universal tactic in film marketing. Movies are creating background stories, character social media pages, even turning 7-Eleven’s into Kwik-e-Marts to extend the audience’s experience beyond the two hour buttery popcorn indulgence.

So what is it that is pushing these marketing campaigns toward an interactive experience? First, the social media landscape opens a platform of sharing and virality that is a uniquely lush tool for marketers across all fields. Entertainment companies are utilizing this tool to build hype and make the experience more personal.

Once someone shares a movie still on Twitter, they suddenly have a stake in the film. They are a part of the spread of information and suddenly, a connection is born. We all have an innate desire to be the first to show-off, break news or tell people about new media and social media is allowing entertainment companies to convert that desire into ticket sales.

Many films, like Boyhood, The Fault in Our Stars and hundreds of others have already abandoned traditional websites in favor of Tumblr accounts. Suddenly, the news, movie stills, release dates, and trailers are all instantly available to a mass audience and showing up in their feeds. To seek out a website takes deliberation. When the information is right in front of you, it is a much simpler intake.

Chicken or Egg? Giving Fans What They Want

For those that think movies are taking this form of marketing too far, consider the films we want to watch. Of the top grossing films since 2000, only three have not fit into the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre.

It’s clear that we want worlds. We want to suspend our reality as much as possible and CGI and 3D cameras are already opening up portals to Pandora, Jurassic Park, and Gotham. Through this rich cinema, we have the ability to exist temporarily outside our lives and that has appealed to us since the dawn of storytelling.

So if we think about the interactive audience in terms of giving the audience what they want, its rise and success is not so surprising. Films are becoming an experience and that is opening pathways to creativity that was not possible before.

Jurassic Park for example, provided fans and visitors a website filled with reviews of the park itself. Chronicle flew remote airplanes designed as people around San Francisco to generate genuine news stories. The Hunger Games made an entire virtual world for fans to explore.

With the rise of Virtual Reality and the continued desire of fans to play in a dream world, this interactive strategy will only become more complex and integral to films. Either way, it’s catapulting film marketing into an entirely novel creative platform. Fairly soon, experiencing a film will require a week’s vacation.

The Wild West for Creators

Beyond a viewer’s desire for the creation of vastly different worlds, so too does interactive marketing burst forth with incredible opportunities for creators. New forms of self-expression are blossoming at an unprecedented rate across the web.

And we say welcome. Welcome to the new age of creativity. Welcome to this interactive marketing experience where art and technology are playing a radical game of bumper cars. Not the nice one you see in an amusement park where you are tethered to the ceiling and lightly bothering giggling toddlers, but the bumper car race they have in Grease. Full-on 50’s mania with spiked wheels and leather jackets. Ripping off doors and narrowly avoiding spin-outs. This is the world we’ve been turned loose in and the world that is coming without much of a breath to keep up.

Forever this type of creativity is in a testing state. Like we’re shoving groups of artists into a room with the lights off and a bunch of paint and then flipping it on and see which ones stick. Let’s open up this book and have technicolored dusty stand-offs with slow motion tumbleweeds spontaneously combusting into a rainbotic burst of original content.

There is a new type of communication happening between creator and consumer that allows the former to tailor their concepts towards a specific audience. Consumers worldwide are affirming this type of visionary outpouring. The options for a modern day artist’s medium are exploding and the people are shouting for more. They want these worlds. They want this escapism. They delight in originality and the creators are happy to appease their wants.

We encourage this line of thinking. We say appease the people. Make them worlds, make them random design, let them decide what works and what does not, but create both and give them the right to have an opinion. It no longer has to be the formulaic horror film or the structured verse. We’ve reached a new type of system that encourages freedom of innovative thinking and rewards new ways of being.

Embrace this blossoming expression. Support originality. Bring on the creative economy.

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