Over the past few years the rule in film marketing seems to be ‘go big or go home’. Marketers in the film industry spend lots of money on viral marketing campaigns that draw a lot of attention and engage a large public. The goal for film marketers is to get return on investment in the opening week(end). Revenues on films are measured by the box office which is an indication of the amount of film tickets or revenue of the tickets. Besides basic marketing techniques, like launching the film poster and trailer, marketers are getting more and more creative and innovative in their film marketing. These techniques are proven to be very successful. More importantly, these techniques should not be limited to film marketing but should be used (more) in other marketing campaigns. Over the weeks I explain five film marketing techniques that are proven to be successful and try to convince you to incorporate one or more in your marketing campaigns. Starting off this week with scavenger hunts.
Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Marketing Campaign
An example of a successful viral film campaign is the marketing campaign for Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. This film was released in the USA on July 16th 2012 and made about 64% of its total revenue in the opening week. On IMDB.com the film gets a 8,5/10 stars which is high in IMDB terms. For this film marketers created a completely integrated marketing campaign including social media marketing.
“Integrated Marketing is an approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand/enterprise; it attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication (…) so that all work together as a unified force.”
There are so many benefits to integrating all your marketing efforts. It helps creating brand awareness because one message gets communicated to the audience in multiple ways. A unified message is delivered through various channels which helps attracting new customers. Besides, this can also create a sense of attachment by loyal customers.
Social media marketing
Social media, as you all know, is the new media. As the different social media evolved they have become more and more an indispensable element of many marketing campaigns. There are many reasons why social media is important in a marketing campaign. To keep it short and sum it up:
“Social media marketing, when done right, can lead to more customers, more traffic, and more conversions, and it’s here to stay.”
Scavenger Hunt as a Marketing Technique
Back to Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. The technique used in the Batman campaign involved a scavenger hunt contest on Twitter. Scavenger hunts are activities we did when we were younger with friends in the neighbourhood. The principle of a scavenger hunt is simple, you receive a series of clues that lead you to some destination or object.
Similarly, fans of the Batman movies were asked to look for the graffiti tags left behind by Batman in the shape of the Batman logo all over the world and post a picture of it with a certain hashtag on the social media network. Clues to the location of these graffiti tags were given on the official website of the film and each time a tag was found, photographed, and posted on Twitter a new frame of the official trailer was released. This got a lot of fans looking out for the graffiti tags, posting them on Twitter and checking out the official website in anticipation for a new frame of the trailer. The campaign got a lot of social media attention because of the use of social media marketing since over 300 tags were found.
Although scavenger hunts are now and then used for film marketing, in other fields of marketing it is not often used as a marketing strategy, which is a loss. Scavenger hunts are a great way to get your audience engaged with the product that you are marketing. In fact, in combination with social media, the audience will market the product for you. Like the example of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, the fans are posting pictures of the graffiti tags which is creating awareness for the upcoming film. All the followers of the people that have uploaded a picture were exposed to a little bit of marketing of the film. This is an example of the snowball effect that social media can elicit.
It also creates a great opportunity to interact with your audience through the clues that you are providing to them. The official Batman website and Twitter became the platforms for the audience to interact with. Clues could be found everywhere on the website and on social media and participants shared the photo’s they took from the batman tags they found. All over the world people were interacting with each other and with the marketing efforts of the film campaign.
However a downside to a scavenger hunt is that the costs of creating one can be very high depending on the scale of the scavenger hunt and the type and amount of prizes that are won. One brand that already successfully integrated a scavenger hunt in its marketing campaign is MINI. In the video below the hunt is explained. In comparison to the Batman film, who released a scavenger hunt worldwide, this scavenger hunt was released only in Stockholm. In this way the costs are lower and the scavenger hunt becomes more achievable. However, the prize that you could win with the MINI contest, a MINI Countryman, is much more expensive than the frames of the trailer that Warner Bros and DC Comics released.
Cost Effective Alternative
Another alternative that makes a scavenger hunt more achievable is to do a digital hunt. M&M successfully integrated Google Maps as a platform for the scavenger hunt they created. Find the video on how the scavenger hunt worked below. This technique is much more cost effective. The video also shows how successful this campaign was. The key is to find the balance between the costs for the hunt itself and the budget for the prizes. However, a scavenger hunt is something worth investing in, if executed and promoted properly. It is not something you want to save money on, since that will not make the scavenger hunt generate return on investment.
Tips & Tricks
Scavenger hunts are not limited to film marketing. They can be incorporated in any marketing technique for any product. The MINI and M&M scavenger hunts are an example of this. There are some tips and tricks that help you organize a scavenger hunt either online or offline.
Keep it simple
Firstly, one of the most important rules is to keep it simple. It is important that your audience can participate easily. The rules and the goal of the hunt should be clear. If this is not the case, your audience will get confused which makes the audience reluctant in participating and can eventually make the whole hunt collapse. Make sure to monitor the scavenger hunt and act upon the results of the monitoring. Add in extra elements to the scavenger hunt if it seems to be too easy and offer clues if participants are struggling.
Option to share
Equally important is that there should always be an option to share (elements of) the scavenger hunt through social media. Do not limit yourself to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are also very useful social media platforms in terms of sharing a scavenger hunt. Sharing is crucial if you want to create the snowball effect mentioned before.
Prizes & Promotion
Furthermore, the scavenger hunt should be worth participating in. In other words, there should be a number of rewards and the prizes should be meaningful to your audience. Lastly, it is important to support your hunt yourself as well. You cannot expect the participants to cover everything you want to communicate to your target audience. M&M got a lot of PR coverage which is a great way of getting free publicity. Social media itself can also be a great tool to promote and engage your audience in your scavenger hunt.
To Sum it Up
So, in conclusion, scavenger hunts should be used more often as a marketing tool both in the film industry but more importantly also in other fields of marketing. Integrated marketing and social marketing are becoming more and more important. A scavenger hunt is a great way to integrate your marketing efforts, engage a big audience and to create a buzz on (and beyond) social media with the snowball effect. A scavenger hunt does not have to cost a lot, but is worth investing in. The most important things to keep in mind is to keep the rules and the goal simple and make sure that your audience can share your hunt so you get the snowball rolling.
In the following blog posts I will be discussing other techniques used by film marketers that can also be applied in other fields of marketing. If you want an overview of all the marketing efforts used in the Batman: The Dark Knight Rises film campaign I recommend watching the short video below. Please share your thoughts and questions about scavenger hunts as a marketing tool below in the comments. If want to have some film marketing technique covered in one of my blog posts make sure to comment as well.
- Avindustries13. (2013, October 28). The Dark Knight Rises – Integrated Marketing Campaign Overview [360p]. Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fbF-T18XFs
- Farlex, Inc. (2015). Box office. Retrieved from The Free Dicionary: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/box+office
- Furious. (2009, May 22). The Growing Importance of Opening Weekend. Retrieved from Involuntary Fury: http://involuntaryfury.com/2009/05/the-growing-importance-of-opening-weekend/
- IMDb.com, Inc. (2015). The Dark Knight Rises. Retrieved from IMDb.com: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1345836/
- Management Study Guide. (sd). Importance of Integrated Marketing Communications. Retrieved from Management Study Guide: http://www.managementstudyguide.com/importance-of-integrated-marketing-communication.htm
- MINIGetawayStockholm. (2010, October 18). MINI Getaway Stockholm 2010. Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMWu1h_6OfE
- Olenski, S. (2013, September 16). Why Integrated Marketing Communications Is More Important Than Ever. Retrieved from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2013/09/16/why-integrated-marketing-communications-is-more-important-than-ever/
- Pelland, S. (sd). The Social Media Snowball Effect. Retrieved from Applied Imagination Media: http://aimbiz.com/bizblogging/the-social-media-snowball-effect/?doing_wp_cron=1448835050.6023349761962890625000
- Proximityworldwide. (2011, March 3). M&M’s – Find Red. Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pXX277TKzw
- Schiff, A. (2012, July 1). Online Batman scavenger hunt. Retrieved from Direct Marketing News: http://www.dmnews.com/best-case/online-batman-scavenger-hunt/article/246906/
- TDKR07202012. (2012, April 30). TDKR07202012. Retrieved from Twitter: https://twitter.com/tdkr07202012
- Warner Bros Entertainment Inc.; DC Comics. (2012). The Dark Knight Rises. Retrieved from The Dark Knight Rises: http://www.thedarkknightrises.com/dvd/
- Yakob, R. (2011, April 13). 10 Best Practices For A Branded Scavenger Hunt. Retrieved from Socialfresh: http://www.socialfresh.com/social-media-scavenger-hunt-best-practices/