When it comes to marketing for movies, thoughtful and creative campaigns have always been the best way to raise public awareness and engage the public. In the past, brilliant campaigns like the unprecedented strategy used by The Blair Witch Project used the early internet, coupled with other mediums, to spread rumors like wildfire and incite interest in the mythology behind the movie. A testament to a committed marketing staff, The Blair Witch staff convinced audiences nationwide that the film told the true story of real people’s lives.
A few years later, A.I. Artificial Intelligence began marketing for their movie release in 2001. They also saw the internet’s potential for building excitement. A perfect storm of several brilliant ideas, they brought awareness for the movie from a small base of interested parties to a much larger audience. They created a national (and in certain cases worldwide) buzz before “going viral” was an understood phenomenon. A.I.'s strategy was, essentially, an interactive game to involve movie goers. Many promotional posters featured websites, emails, and phone numbers with riddles encouraging communication to solve the riddle. There were multiple trailers that implied puzzles and riddles and dared the audience to solve them. Going with the theme of the movie, it implied that some sort of computer had come alive and was communicating. The game only concluded upon seeing the movie.
This was an extremely creative and massively successful promotion strategy that many marketers today could use as an example. The internet is more interactive than ever, and with a little innovation, an even more brilliant campaign could keep people talking for a long time.
Jump forward to January of 2014, and Devil's Due was on its way into theaters. The promotional staff for this movie decided to build a noisy, animatronic baby doll that looked possessed and could be controlled remotely. Google the picture of "Devil Baby" at your own risk. The took this doll and put it in a stroller alone in NYC. When people approached, it would jump up and make noises. As terrifying as it was to a lot of people, this campaign spread a lot of awareness for what would otherwise have been a quickly forgotten film. Even though some people didn't appreciate the prank, there was mostly positive coverage on several news sources.
Movements like these challenge the status quo and push people in the entertainment industry to come up with new ideas. When this happens, it not only generates current interest for whatever you're promoting, but also makes lasting memories for the people who come into contact, and subsequently making a better overall industry. Positive hype and captivated audiences has only ever been a good thing, so we should be trying to create more of it instead of falling back on old tricks.
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Marketing and statistics student at the University of Central Florida, Orlando.