The ills and frills of social media

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As president of worldwide digital marketing for Sony Pictures Entertainment, Dwight Caines has worked on more than 200 film campaigns. He's heralded numerous strategies that have paid off for the studio through the years. Yet, he's also the first to admit that everyone in the business is still learning and trying best to keep up with the rapidly changing toolset at their disposal.

In an interview with iMedia, Caines discussed the power of social media and the dilemmas it can quickly bring to bear.

Dwight Caines will be the recipient of this year's iMedia Visionary Marketer Award at the Entertainment Summit on June 25 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

iMedia: How have your primary responsibilities changed over the years at Sony Pictures Entertainment?

Dwight Caines: I now have a kind of dotted line management oversight over a team called Image Works Interactive. They were formerly called Sony Pictures Digital, and this is the team that supports us in-house and allows us to leverage all of our movie, TV, and home entertainment brands in the digital space. It's as if we have an in-house agency, but essentially in this relationship they're really integrated into my team of marketers and creatives, so we have a real buy-in from everybody that's working on the products.

Generally, what I'm trying to do -- and I think this is the hardest part -- is to bring people together for some of the larger, more strategic conversations around what we do in this space, how we comply in this space, and how we innovate.

iMedia: Are you intricately involved in the marketing blitz and run-up to every major motion picture release? Can you give an example of what that work entails for a senior executive such as yourself?

Caines: It's always been interesting to me because I've often heard digital marketers at other studios, or even people who wanted to be in business with us, talk about the digital team not having a seat at the table. And for us, I've never experienced that. So in every senior marketing meeting, every early meeting with filmmakers, I'm at the table. We look at this as just an extension of the marketing team.

One of the interesting things about digital is if we were to do nothing, the medium allows us to measure how some of the other marketing efforts are resonating with consumers. So, for example, organic search might spike when something happens in the publicity world, or online chatter might grow and the sentiment might move from neutral to positive. Site traffic will often grow when other media runs. If we did nothing, we'd still be measuring very closely how consumers were reacting to our material, but the fact is we're launching many, many engagement opportunities on each campaign.

So I'd say my team is deeply integrated -- there's sort of a publicity and an outreach angle to what we do, there's a creative angle to what we do, there's a research and business intelligence angle to what we do. It's a deeply integrated team with the rest of marketing.

iMedia: What's the all-time most innovative and clever campaign you've seen so far?

Caines: It's hard for me, after working on some 200-odd campaigns, to really isolate one, only because there are different levels of success with each. Frankly, some campaigns are designed to maintain a particular positioning among consumers. Some are designed to change their perspective. And so it's really hard to isolate a campaign and say this one worked better than that one.

iMedia: OK. How about this: What's the one campaign that you wish you were behind?

Caines: Nothing comes to mind right now, but I will say that I try to be a student of marketing and watch what other people do. I'm always looking at other peoples' media that runs and how well they've integrated the call-to-action from, say, broadcast to digital to a print interaction. And I always respect when people do that really well. Because attention is so fragmented, what we're trying to do is just build deep immersion as many ways as we can.

I did love the Jack in the Box hang-in-there campaign that just recently ran that launched in the Super Bowl where Jack was in a coma. It was just an interesting, fun narrative they created for a brand.

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Comments

Greg Padley
Greg Padley April 24, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Great piece Matt. I especially like Mr. Caines reply to "most innovative campaign." The answers reinforce the fact that marketing is business man! Sure it's creative and fun, but it's business. You can't say "this is the best campaign" without understanding the business logic behind it. Sure you can like it but that dosen't make it the best. http://5691gerg.com/?p=180