Monday, January 14, 2008

Movies Making Moves

I was on the cusp of writing about the marketing of J.J. Abrams' Cloverfield and Lost. However, three things made me decide to make this post more specific to movies:

1. Much has already been said about both. (In particular, I recently saw Three Minds post about Cloverfield and Brand Flakes post about Lost.)
2. Last night's unfortunate and awful Golden Globe production make movies top of mind. (It was the first time I felt the real impact of this writers' strike.)
3. I just saw this pretty excellent site for Be Kind Rewind. (Image below is from the Swede Yourself section.)
While this site is not novel in its idea or application, it is relevant to the movie and does follow the (tentative and changing) rules of viral success: make it personal, make it simple, make it slippery. (via Herd)

It has "pass-ability" like its predecessor, Simpsonsize Me—which I read had over 16 million hits and 700,000 photos uploaded in 3 days. It makes nice use of the actors, Jack Black, Mos Def, and Danny Glover like Snakes On A Plane did with Samuel L. Jackson—may have not have made money to match the buzz, but over 1.5 million calls were sent in week one alone. Even it's not the most novel or cool thing out there, it does show that movie studios are investing in the digital space with interactive content. And they are showing they understand communities and community needs, whether its galvanizing an existing community (often times the case for a sequel or book adaptation or even leveraging a fan club of an actor). Kite Runner did both with its clubs for pre-screenings, celebrity-signed kite auction for charity on eBay, and other prizes.

I must say, however, that most fall short in continuing the relationship with movie goers. They create excitement, get people to the theaters, let the film speak for itself, and assume people will recommend to friends, family, coworkers, etc. Which is not a bad assumption. Lots of us love to talk about movies. However, there seems to be an opportunity to aid in this WOM by applying some time and effort to reconnecting post-seeing the movie, especially in the online world. Rather than have people leave and lose them, why don't we extend the conversation and make it easier for people to share their thoughts (hopefully recommendations). Whether its through more related content (new side characer story-lines, for example), badges to wear with pride on your blog or Facebook profile (or even soundtrack samples), sites that are only accessible to those who saw them movie (make them answer a question from the movie) that offer exclusive merchandise or other experiences, etc., it is largely under-leveraged.

In short, viral shouldn't stop at the end credits.

I remember feeling that way about Juno. I left the theater wanting to tell (just about) everyone I knew to get tickets immediately. Instead of sending a mass text though, I hit up Twitter and told 40 people rather than 140. I wanted to post about it and title the post, "Honest to blog" but couldn't remember the line. My old boss, Nigel believed strongly in the power of highly repeatable thoughts. Most times they took the form of taglines. Movies usually have hundreds of little pieces of highly repeatable lines, stories, thoughts baked in. The more we can give a taste of this interestingness, interactivity, and i-(shit no i-word) how about "viral-ity" into our communications pre- and POST-viewing, the better.

There's probably such a thing as over-promoting (think Jerry Seinfeld for Bee Movie) but overall it seems movies are again remembering the success of The Blair Witch Project—which grossed $248MM at the box office with a $25K budget.

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