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11 innovative movie marketing campaigns

11 innovative movie marketing campaigns Bethany Simpson
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Innovative campaign no. 1: "The Hunger Games" team created a vast secret virtual world for fans




Today's movie fans want more than a two-hour experience. They're hungry to dive into immersive interactions with the characters and worlds. Movie marketers are tapping into this energetic brand loyalty by creating explosive, innovative digital campaigns like this massive digital extension of the blockbuster "The Hunger Games."


As fans know, every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. Fans went crazy for this story in book form (23.5 million copies in print), movie form ($673 million worldwide gross billings, to-date), and digitally. Here's the uber-cool, uber-realistic experience created by the movie's marketing team.


Many of our clips today come from Peter Stougaard. Peter was the SVP Creative Advertising at 20th Century Fox for 12 years where he managed campaigns for the films "Xmen," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "Cast Away," "Moulin Rouge," "Ice Age," "Minority Report," "The Devil Wears Prada," "Borat," "Night at the Museum," "The Simpson’s Movie," James Cameron's "Avatar," and many more. He is currently the co-founder of ActivateTV.

Innovative campaign no. 2: One of the best "Men in Black III" marketing elements was a no-name 14-year-old blogger




The blogger "bugeyes" is supposedly a no-name kid from a no-name town in the middle of nowhere. This likable 14-year-old student likes computer science and researching extraterrestrials, so has gathered information on his blog to prove that aliens and "the men in black suits" are real. (See his clip of Arianna Huffington denying that she's an alien.) This clever campaign from Sony quickly generated over 129 thousand Facebook likes, and ended in a feel-good vlog where bugeyes is recruited to join the team he idolizes.

Innovative campaign no. 3: Flying people soared over NYC landmarks to promote "Chronicle"




If you were in New York City this January and thought you saw people flying overhead, you would't be crazy. The low-budget superhero movie "Chronicle" used the surreal stunt to generate viral chatter in the weeks leading up to the movie's debut. The "flying people" were actually human-shaped remote-control planes being manipulated by team members on the ground. Fox partnered with ad firm Thinkmodo (the group behind the iPad Head Girl) to generate this clever marketing campaign. A video of the stunt has over 8 million views on YouTube, and the flyers were reported on by the Today Show, Early Today, Bloomberg News, LA Times, ABC, NBC, KTLA, and many other news outlets.


See more, as well as how the team executed the stunt here.

Innovative campaign no. 4: "X-Men: First Class" took fans on a journey through an ultra-realistic digital magazine

Fans got an extra boost when Fox put out the free iPad app "X-Men Extra." The interactive app was actually a digital magazine featuring period (1960's) pieces about the X-Men, for example captioned photos of Xavier sharing a conversation with JFK and Magneto with Fidel Castro. In addition to photos and stories, the digital magazine includes embedded audio clips, videos, and clever special featurettes. Click here to see more.

Innovative campaign no. 5: Verizon, Ted Talks, and Internet Explorer were secret partners of the "Prometheus" movie campaign

The marketing campaign for the 2012 blockbuster "Prometheus" takes fans through an immersive virtual experience where real brands help create an other-world reality. Verizon serves as provider for Prometheus-era smartphone interactions, character Peter Weyland gives a "2023 TedTalk" presentation, and Internet Explorer is the recommended browser for the "Weyland Industries" Project Prometheus online experience.

Innovative campaign no. 6: "The Simpsons Movie" created real Kwik-E-Marts for fans

When "The Simpsons Movie" came out in 2007, the marketing team at Fox developed some uniquely creative ideas to stimulate the already excited fan base. Ideas included an integrated campaign that let fans create their own Simpson's-style avatar, play the wrecking ball game on the movie website and explore digital Springfield, enter a contest to be in a Simpson's episode or have their hometown host the movie's premier. But the most visually-interesting part of the campaign was when 7-Elevens around the country were transformed into Kwik-E-Marts. Stores were given Kwik-E-Mart branding and products, including Buzz Cola Squishees and pink-frosted donuts.

Innovative campaign no. 7: "Ted" comes alive through tweets, blogs, and interactive photos

The world's most famous rated-R bear has leapt off the big screen and into our social channels. Ted is on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. He has a blog, you can download a Talking Ted app to your smartphone, and you can superimpose a Ted image into your pics. He's everywhere. Thanks to the Ted marketing team and campaign creators JetSet Studios, Ted has been tweeting and blogging his way around L.A., to extend our relationship with his character off screen.

Innovative campaign no. 8: Apple made money on "The Avengers" before it ever came out in theaters

Apple took advantage of the wealth of Superhero and Marvel assets surrounding the movie "The Avengers," including prior Marvel movies and graphic novels, in this crowd-pleasing, money-making campaign.

Innovative campaign no. 9: A "Wimpy Kid" movie marketing idea borrowed from Steven Spielberg's trailer-making technique

The newest installment of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, "Dog Days," hits theaters on August third. But in advance of the movie, kids can already interact with the characters on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as "wimp" themselves on the movie website, and more. Here's Peter Stougaard's interactive campaign idea for the movie, based on Steven Spielberg's movie trailer-making technique.

Innovative campaign no. 10: Fans of "Inception" were invited into an interactive media and gaming experience




The game "Mind Crime" (above) was just one of many creative ideas "The Inception" marketing team used to pull users deeper into the complex world of intrigue and dreams. Other campaign elements included interviews with "real" dream scientists, QR code and digital scavenger hunt promotions, odd "real-life" articles and websites that related to the movie, and a graph novel that served as prequel to the movie.

Innovative campaign no. 11: "Snow White and the Huntsman" drove ticket sales with an interactive media trailer




This fairy tale adaptation starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron has grossed $309 million worldwide, so far. As part of the movie's marketing, Universal launched an interactive trailer that included pop-up options taking you to trivia, behind-the-scenes videos, and movie chats. You can view the interactive trailer here.

Bethany has worked with Fortune-1000 executives for 8 years. From 2007 to 2011 she served as director of content development for the Leadership Network, a private online community for C-Level leaders of Fortune-1000 companies and $1B+ organizations.

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