5 Film Marketing Campaign Lessons And Takeaways To Consider for 2024

marketing Jan 05, 2024
Film Marketing

What is film marketing?

In summary it is any and every marketing action taken to get people to be interested and actually go watch a movie.

That includes trailers, posters, collaborations, red carpets, press, etc. So many aspects of promoting a film fall into this umbrella.

Why is film marketing important?

Of course the material and the film itself has to be great but film marketing is what gets your movie seen.

You could have an amazing film that really connects with many people but that is not going to matter if audiences don’t know of its existence.

This is why so many smaller films unfortunately do not get the coverage and audience size that big studio productions do.

It is also about building community and excitement about the project before its release so that audiences already feel connected to it when they walk into the theater. 

Film marketing is what gives a great film a chance to be seen and increases their audience.

2023 had many amazing films but there were 5 film marketing campaigns that stood out and made a memorable impact on the industry and are worth thinking about when creating your strategy for 2024. 

 

Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) Film Marketing 

 

Let’s-a-go! This is the most successful animated movie ever, having surpassed Frozen by earning $204.6 million in its five-day domestic debut and ranking second in the list of the 2023 worldwide box office.

Just by looking up the movie on google you can see the film marketing at play by the question mark box that pops up next to the search bar.

From creating a website for Mario and Luigi’s plumbing company to brand collaborations, the Super Mario Bros. Movie covered all of their bases and created some unforgettable content!  

Nintendo and Illumination worked hard on making this film the best it can be and getting people excited about it, especially since the first attempt to make a Mario Bros. film in 1993 did not go so well.

The film marketing was all about the details and getting fans on board with the project. This all started with a stellar cast and trailer but the team went above and beyond to create memorable experiences for fans.

The interactive website for Mario and Luigi’s plumbing company was constructed like a real company website complete with a phone number to call with which fans were greeted by Luigi himself, played by Charlie Day.

A commercial was also dropped in which Mario and Luigi are promoting their plumbing business. The best way to make fans feel like they are a part of the project is by creating interactive content like this.

It shows audiences that it is fan centered and the brand cares about what they want.   

 

  

The film marketing for Super Mario Bros. Movie also did many collaborations with brands.

McDonald’s released themed toys for their Happy Meals, 7-11s in Mexico were themed, Lush created various themed products, TRUFF created a sauce collection and many more.    

Shake Shack made their DUMBO location Mario Bros. themed with elements from the film. Their ‘Shroom burger was also promoted by the brand as a nod to the Mario Bros. mushrooms from the game with a chance to win tickets to go see the movie with a purchase of one of these burgers.

This collaboration brought fans of the game to Shake Shack and regular Shake Shack customers were able to immerse themselves into the world of Mario Bros. and learn of the movie if they were not yet aware of its release.  

 

 

There was a lot of hype and promotion around this film and it is clear that the efforts made had fans at the center of it all.

This film marketing example reminds us of the importance of keeping your target audience at the forefront of any decision that is made especially when promoting a project with an existing fanbase.

Key Takeaway: Fan centered is the way to go especially when creating campaigns for established brands and fan bases because they will be your biggest and best critics.

 

Barbie (2023) Film Marketing

 

Hi Barbie! This was one of the most anticipated movies of the year and it delivered, ranking first with the biggest box office release of the year.

It is no secret that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie made waves this year and dominated the summer of 2023. 

Barbie tells the story of stereotypical Barbie and her journey to the real world as she tries to figure out why she has been having so many negative thoughts.  

You could not go anywhere without seeing an ad for Barbie.

Their collaborations seemed endless from Airbnb to Vans; there was not a single industry that was left out and the phenomenon was so big that it caused a shortage of the iconic pink Barbie color

 

 

The film marketing budget was $150 million which is more than the $145 million used for the making of the movie. 

Although the film marketing had a massive budget, a lot of the promotion surrounding it came from organic content created by fans and brands that were capitalizing off the hype for the movie.

“Barbiecore” skyrocketed as people started to buy products and clothes that they felt Barbie would wear. 

Fashion was a key element in promoting this film as Margot Robbie wore different historic Barbie outfits to various premieres across the world and fans would go see the film dressed in pink or recreating outfits they had seen from the film.

For a long time if you saw anyone seen in pink you would assume they were going to watch the movie or going to a Barbie related event! 

 

 

The soundtrack album was announced on May 25th, just two months before the film premiered in theaters, which included many big household names like Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice Dual Lipa, and many more.

Trending content on Tiktok helped the film marketing as the music skyrocketed in popularity and audiences got familiar with the songs and looked forward to hearing them in the movie.

It also gave them a sense of what the movie may be about as the trailers had been pretty ambiguous. 

Tiktok also started the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon. Because both movies, which could not be more different, were both released on July 21 people decided to go to both and make it into an event.

There were parties with this theme and many couples dressed as Barbie and Oppenheimer characters for Halloween. The mania lasted all year. 

Barbie is a great example of community building for film marketing.

Of course, Mattel’s Barbie brand has long been established but the movie created a new identity for the brand as it attempted to heighten themes of feminism and address what some may have criticized about the company in the past. 

The film is a model for how to mix organic and promotional film marketing. Although there was clearly a lot of partnerships, press and push by the studios to make this a hit, it was audiences who made the summer of 2023 “the summer of Barbie”.  

Key Takeaway: Building community is so important, let fans take the reigns and it will open up so many opportunities.   

   

Oppenheimer (2023) Film Marketing

 

Although we talk a lot about Barbie, Oppenheimer had great success ranking third in the 2023 worldwide box office and reaching over $952 million worldwide at its release. 

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer tells the story of the creation of the first atomic bomb and the man behind it. 

There is no doubt that the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon brought additional attention to the film as audiences who may not have thought of going to see the movie at first, those who were more of Barbie’s demographic, went to see the film because they wanted to be a part of the cultural event that “Barbenheimer” became.

This was even more effective when Greta Gerwig and Margo Robbie posed in front of the Oppenheimer poster at the movie theater.   

 

 

Social media played a big part in promoting the film as memes and other content surfaced all over the internet.

Whether it was content created by the film’s marketing team or by the fans themselves, social media helped create buzz and interest around it.

Film marketing often uses the fame of those that were a part of the project in order to draw their fans in.

Although the marketing team had a star-studded cast to pick from, it was director Christopher Nolan and protagonist actor Cillian Murphy who were highlighted in their film marketing.

Nolan is a very well known and respected director which automatically interested audiences immediately because they were anxious to know how he would execute a film like Oppenheimer.  

 

 

Nolan is known for his captivating visuals in his films which means that the posters and trailers that were made to promote the movie had to be just as spectacular.

It is no secret that these two elements are key in grabbing people’s attention and getting them interested in at least learning more about the project. They are at the core of film marketing and Oppenheimer did them very well.

The poster is nothing short of iconic and the trailer is just as captivating. 

 

 

Oppenheimer’s film marketing reminds us that the product and the people behind the campaign are always our best assets when trying to create the best content possible.

No matter how good your marketing is it all comes down to the people, the product and how to lean into what they are known for and how to make them your best asset.  

Key Takeaway: Use your assets and talent behind the movie to your advantage by emphasizing their status

 

Wonka (2023) Film Marketing

 

Quiet up and listen down! Golden tickets, a new menu and shoes. Other than the obvious use of their lead actor’s name and capitalizing off the original brand, the new Wonka movie has had multiple collaborations to promote the film.

Although the film marketing may not have been as big as those for Barbie and Oppenheimer, they still had some very creative and interesting projects developed.

Starring Timothée Chalamet, the recently released Wonka tells the origin story of Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).

The first important choice that was made was not to emphasize on the fact that it is a musical. In fact, the trailer does not include very many musical scenes from the film because, sadly if we might add, audiences are often skeptical of musicals.

By not letting people explicitly know that it is a musical, they are more likely to go see the film. 

The film marketing used collaborations with many brands from different industries to promote Wonka. Ihop did a collaboration by creating a new menu including purple pancakes, chocolate pancake tacos and the “dreamy lemonade”.

The colorful menu is reminiscent of the things that you may find in the chocolate factory and Willy Wonka’s signature purple.  

 

 

Blommingdale’s has a collaboration with Wonka which includes apparel and other items inspired by the film. They also created a virtual store which immerses you into the world of Wonka and shows off some of the items offered in the store in the most colorful and extravagant way.

This is a great way to showcase a product and make the experience a fun and interactive one instead of just scrolling through the website like you would any other time.

The experience also prompts visitors to collect items by clicking on them to unlock a surprise! 

Two shoe companies had collaborations with the film. Converse also created a limited edition Wonka collection with various shoes and apparel.

Timothee Chalamet was recently seen on a late night show mentioning an exclusive design with Nike in which only five pairs were made, reminiscent of the amount of golden tickets given out by Willy Wonka in the original film.

Chalamet also received a pair. 

 

 

The film marketing for this project leaned into the fantastical and colorful aesthetic that we associate with the world Wonka and created various campaigns that would transport us if only for a minute.

It is important to know that this is meant to be a children’s film and that is an audience that they could have tailored to more than they did.

Regardless, the film marketing team of this project reminds us that leaning into what makes a brand unique and memorable is always the best practice.  

Key Takeaway: With films known for their sets and world building, lean into immersive content. 

 

Mean Girls (2024) Film Marketing

 

“This is not your mother’s Mean Girls”. This is how the trailer for the new Mean Girls (2024) sets the tone for the film marketing that is developing around it.

Also directed by Tina Fey, the film is a remake of the original Mean Girls (2004) “with a twist”. The twist is that it is actually a musical that uses the music from the Broadway show Mean Girls: The Musical.

It includes iconic actors such as Jon Hamm, Busy Phillips and Jenna Fischer and younger up and coming actors who have been making their mark like Angourie Rice, Renee Rapp, and Christopher Briney.  

Like Wonka, the trailer does not let audiences know that this is a musical in order to attract the most people and instead emphasize on the existing reputation of the Mean Girls franchise.  

This past Black Friday, Walmart dropped a commercial with the original cast of the original film including Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert. The trailer is reminiscent of a scene from the original movie.

Set to the tune of Missy Elliot’s “Pass That Dutch”,  students and adults talk about the Black Friday deals like they did about Regina and even the iconic “Jingle Bells” routine is recreated. 

 

 

Although the commercial isn’t explicitly about the remake, there is no doubt that the timing and circumstances of the trailer for the new movie played a part in conceptualizing and dropping it.

If it had been dropped next year, it would have marked exactly 20 years since the original release but because the remake is set to be January 12, 2024, it only makes sense for Walmart and Mean Girls to capitalize off this and create interest for both brands at the same time.

The commercial does a great job of targeting two groups using nostalgia marketing.   

This Mean Girls x Walmart film marketing collaboration is a model example of how to use the ever increasing trend of nostalgia marketing.

It appeals to millennial audiences because they are the target demographic for both Walmart and the original Mean Girls but also to Gen Z because they are the demographic for the remake.

The ad combines two groups and grabs their attention by invoking a sense of nostalgia and reminding them of the time when Mean Girls (2004) was at its peak.

Millennials get to experience a staple of their high school years once again while Gen Z gets to be included this time around and participate in a nostalgia for a time they weren’t really a part of the first time around.  

Tinder is another brand that used the renewed Mean Girls (2024) hype to promote their brand. Jonathan Bennet, who played Aaron Samuels in the original Mean Girls (2004), lists the types of “mean people” you should avoid online for World Romance Scam Prevention Day which is on October 3rd, a notoriously iconic date for the Mean Girls franchise.

This type of film marketing is genius because it uses iconic references to the movie and repurposes them to make a statement about something relevant to the brand (and to the film).

It also lets consumers know that Tinder cares not only about their safety and interests but also knows how to relate to them. 

 

 

Walmart and Tinder have both used film marketing and nostalgia to their advantage.

They know how to reach their target audience all while capitalizing off new endeavors by the Mean Girls brand for younger generations which will also create awareness for the new version of the film. 

Key Takeaways: Nostalgia marketing is rising and with every remake released, teams should lean into this trend

2023 brought us many amazing films and new marketing trends.

These five film marketing campaigns are great examples of how to use different tactics and channels to promote a film but most importantly they remind us of what is most important: the fans and community.

We can’t wait to see what 2024 will bring…

 

✍️ Written by Alexandra Hayek

 

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