There’s ‘movie marketing’…and then there’s movie marketing. In this post, we’re looking at what I think are the most engaging ‘Top 10’ Movie Marketing campaigns. These marketing teams took their campaigns to a whole other level. The marketing campaigns for these particular films are viewed as one of the major contributors to their respective successes. From complementing the style of the film and leading new innovations in the tech industry for viral marketing techniques, to their own spin on traditional techniques that gave their audience a fresh new look to how films could be marketed.
Deadpool’s Marketing was seen as being in a league of its own when it’s started producing content featuring the merc with the mouth played by Ryan Reynolds, who had been part of the comicbook community trying to get a Deadpool movie made since 2005. This worked so well as it stayed true to the character who had a history of breaking the fourth wall in the comics. This made it ideal for them to use his short, snappy, in-your-face, comedic style when marketing the movie. The marketing covered everything from Emoji billboards to educational videos about testicular cancer and everything in between.
One of the reason’s this film is number one on the list, is the fact that it didn’t have the largest budget of the films marketing on this list. However, the ways the film reached its audience was so creative, essentially courting our eyes and the eyes of almost everyone else too.
The Blare Witch Project
The Blare Witch Project was shot on a budget of just $25,000 back in 1999 on hand-held cameras that were returned after shooting to minimise costs. Now, this sounds like a recipe for disaster for the movie before even considering what they had to spend in terms of marketing. Due to this shoestring budget, it led to the marketing team having to be incredibly creative in terms of finding effective ways of getting people in theatres to see the film. The team came up with a concept that had never done before. They had created a fake website and a documentary style trailer that prompted people to go to the website for them to find out more.
This campaign led to some people walking into theatres thinking they were going to see a documentary, it was that effective. This new style of filmmaking and marketing started a new trend in the horror genre, leading to a high amount of found footage films that were cheap to make and tended to make reasonable money at the box office. But none would reach the level of success of ‘The Blare Witch Project’ which is the second highest return on investment of any film leading to be sitting comfortably at number two on this list.
Paranormal Activity is filmed very much in the style of ‘The Blare Witch Project’, with it being another film from the found footage genre. However, it took its marketing to another level after being backed by Paramount. They used the same tactics as ‘The Blare Witch Project’ with viral marketing and budding social media (at the time) to marketing their film making it look like a real found footage movie. It was said that the film performed really well because most people heard about it from posts from friends on social media, leading to a lot of the best bits of the film not being spoiled for them like in traditional Hollywood trailers. This lead to a whole franchise being born and although there is a fair argument they are all the same this film copying the formula of the original, it is still a landmark in the genre in a demonstration in the right way to market a film in the horror genre.
Chronicle has the claims that it brought the likes of Michel B Jordan and Dane Dehann to stardom, but it also had an incredibly creative marketing campaign behind it. The marketing team lead by James Percelay and Michael Krivicka, saw the promo posters of the three flying teen protagonists and was inspired to bring this visual to the skyline of New York. They had 5 teen shaped planes built to fly on January 27th, 2012. They only had 5 minutes in the air, so they flew them over the Hudson River and around the Statue of Liberty. This got thousands of views and videos went viral of people thinking there were real life people flying around New York. This was a really creative way of getting the word around about the movie coming out.
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight is seen as the best of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, with Batman facing off against a handful of villains including Twoface and The Joker. It is seen in a lot of people’s eyes as the quintessential comic book movie and even led to some saying it is the best detective film ever created. This can be also attributed in no short measure to their marketing campaign. Their marketing team ran one of the most successful scavenger hunts ever. It stretched across 75 nations with people starting at a Comi-Con working together taking commands from Heath Ledgers Joker as he instructs them to take photos in Joker Make-up and read through fake news articles to try and find clues. This led to a teaser trailer a whole year before the actual trailer was released that had been edited to try and make it look like it the Joker had tampered with it showing scribbles over the video.
The self-proclaimed “Gotham City residence” were also told to go to downtown New York where a Bat Signal was lit up onto the side of a building. This whole campaign went viral with over 10 Million participants. This campaign led to the film being the top grossing film of that year.
Ex Machina is not one of your standard popcorn blockbusters and this was obviously taken into account when it came to their marketing campaign. At the South by Southwest film festival in 2015, users of the app Tinder were getting messages from a woman who was asking very deep questions about being human. After a short convo, the participant would get a link sending them to an Instagram page with the poster for the film on it.
This had the potential to annoy many users of the app who were looking for a partner, however this sneaky bit of marketing went viral leading to the film gaining a cult following for years to come.
Prometheus is a film that is the spiritual prequel to the Alien Franchise. The team for their marketing campaign really played on their fictional company ‘Weyland Industries’. They produced a viral video for the David Robot model that features in the film played by Michael Fassbender who stars in the video. This worked so well as it sparked the Alien fanbase as the company features heavily in their films as well stirring up interest for the new movie. There was also a mock TED talk’s video showing a young Peter Weyland talking about Prometheus, which perfectly links into the ideas brought up by the film.
These subtle videos built up interest in the film in a more creative way. By using already established ideas following the established connotations of videos, like a new smartphone video and the TED talk’s features. This film was met with mixed reviews but all of the cult followings have said the marketing building on established concepts in the films were a great way of expanding the universe and building interest in the movie.
District 9 tackles some very tough issues in its films such as the Apartheid and over-population. Their marketing team worked hard to show these issues in their marketing campaign with ‘Anti-Alien’ viral videos and posters showing the fear of the people directed towards the aliens.
Their posters were everywhere promoting to people that this is a non-alien area.
The marketing was very effective, leading to the film being viewed as extremely successful, which gaining it the Critics’ Choice Award in 2010.
Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Borat’s marketing style was outrageous with Sacha Baron Cohen staying in character all the way up to the film’s release. His interview for the films were all in character, immediately going viral as he made talk show interviewers laugh and squirm at what he said live on TV. This led to a marketing shock factor that was felt by everyone watching his antics. This lead to a cult following for the movie and many parents banning their kids from seeing the film.
How could we make this list without featuring a film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe when all their films seem to be a 2-hour advert for their next film. Antman stood out to me as it had the potential to fall into the norm for movie marketing. However, there are elements in their campaign that really stands out as being creative. Tiny billboards perfect for the ant-sized hero were set up over multiple cities advertising Marvel’s new film. Pictures soon went viral with other small changes being made in people everyday lives.
It was completed with a very entertaining set of the poster with Antman featuring in zoomed in images of the original Avengers.
This was a great campaign for this pocket sized Avenger, which really played on the fact that he was for many years a joke before now we all know he is not to be messed with.
Written by: Dan