In terms of effectiveness, I hope you'll agree that this is the killer movie campaign of the recent past. This was a low-budget movie, costing just $15,000 to make, so I would imagine the problem for Amy Powell and her team at Paramount was determining what exactly they should throw at it. "The Blair Witch Project" was a low-budget film that took in $140 million due mainly to mass buzz online that went "viral." "Paranormal Activity" presented a big opportunity for Paramount to replicate that success. However, since the Blair Witch days, it has gotten pretty crowded out there.
The movie centers on a young couple, Katie and Micah, who are haunted by a supernatural presence in their home. The movie is presented in the style of "found footage," from the camera set up by the couple to capture what was haunting them.
Paramount's campaign revolved around a low-cost social media strategy through which fans were asked to "demand" that the movie come to their town. It started with director Oren Peli opening the movie in 13 college towns across America. Peli then invited users to demand where the movie should be played next using Eventful.com. This was a great viral marketing initiative in its own right. As venues sold out, Paramount decided to open it up for a nationwide release if the movie got 1 million Eventful.com demands. This, combined with midnight screenings set up at key venues to get people buzzing about the movie, worked great, and the goal was reached on Eventful.com.
So far as I know, this was a first in movie marketing. For this film, Eventful.com gave Paramount and the filmmakers a great social media channel to facilitate their campaign objectives online.
Paramount also recorded people's reactions to watching the movie and then used that footage for TV spots and the trailer. Centering on the reactions of the audience and allowing them to pass them on, Paramount obviously had every confidence that the film would create the right kind of reactions, and that leveraging those would be a unique and powerful way to sell it.
All marketing materials had a user-generated feel to them, making everything feel consistent and independent, and beautifully connecting with the "demand it" strategy.
Twitter and Facebook were also used very effectively. Users were encouraged to "Tweet Your Scream," and this sparked masses of retweets. "Tweet Your Scream" received a lot of publicity and, again, focused on the audiences' reactions and giving them the tools and content to sell the movie themselves.
Not only did Paramount deliver a unique and user-driven marketing campaign, but it also covered its bases by asking people to demand the movie before going to the expense of putting it out there. That's why, in my view, this was a very clever, effective, and killer movie marketing campaign.
The success of the movie and its marketing has resulted in Amy Powell going on to set up a specialist division of Paramount to look at films that cost under $100,000 to make. In the age of low cost, disposable content where the consumer is marketing for you, this has got to be a good move.