I had the pleasure, once again, of being a judge for the British Video Association Marketing Awards. Assessing marketing campaigns supporting the launch of titles on DVD and Blu-ray highlighted how innovative and effective they could have been. What struck me most is that more brand-focused thinking would certainly benefit the entertainment industry.
There are unique challenges posed by the transient nature of the product (given the viewing experience) and the astonishingly short time that it has to become a success. Nonetheless, a small fraction of films launched have gone on to become lasting franchises, becoming brands that have extended beyond the viewing experience. It’s important food for thought for entertainment marketers, especially coming out of the movie awards season.
Many campaigns are, sadly, an exercise of simply trying to place the title poster art in as many places as possible (online and offline), securing PR for the talent and throwing up website and Facebook pages for broadcast purposes that don’t really engage in dialogue. While much of this is driven by the need to push volume fast, it shouldn’t be an excuse for skipping rigorous thinking to make limited marketing budgets work harder. The problem: titles are not often thought of as brands to manage, but seats to fill and boxes to shift.
What each title is and offers (the brand) needs to be clearly defined to identify effective connection moments and innovative ways to engage customers. This will also enable longer term brand building, especially as sequels and serialisation become a more common way to improve ROI. Some of the mega franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter appear to have clearer values that guide what they do in the many different extensions of the brand. This keeps the magic alive in the hearts and minds of current fans and help attract new audiences.
Tactically, some distributors are using customer insight to effectively position and communicate their titles. I saw smart launch promotions that put potential viewers in the shoes of the hero, and the use of documentary to astonish and create a new fascination of the subject even before you see the film. These built on the understanding of what will engage potential audiences in a way that builds the brand. I can’t tell you who won (to be announced in the coming weeks) but I can say that the standouts clearly used brand-centric thinking.