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Film marketing in Hollywood

This essay will look at film marketing and promotion in general but with special emphasis to Hollywood considering that they are the pacesetters while other countries play second fiddle. Film marketing is crucial as you will be finding ways in which to sell things to people that they do not want or need (Kerrigan, 2010). When a new film is made, it must be advertised like any other new product, to let people know it exists and to encourage them to go to the cinema to see it. The advertising of a film is known as film promotion or film marketing and the people who are responsible for this are the distribution company, so–called because they distribute the films to the cinemas and distribute the promotional material around the world. The way in which a film is promoted can have a huge effect on whether it is successful. Films are expensive to make and if the public do not buy tickets at the box office to see the film, a lot of money will be lost. (Film Education, 2003)

Marketing is a key and ever-present element of any strategy concerning the film production process. How can we best define marketing as it mainly relates to the film business? Marketing offers a range of communication tools and strategies that connect product with buyers (aka distributors) and audiences.According to Mark Burgess of Blue Focus, Marketing is the process by which a firm profitably translates customer needs into revenue.  “Marketing is creating irresistible experiences that connect with people personally and create the desire to share with others,” wrote Saul Colt. Sam Decker thinks “Marketing is making connections between customers with your products, brand and business, such that they are likely to buy from you. Movie or film marketing, therefore, is the art and science of convincing consumers to buy movie tickets (Rose, 2008).

Film marketing and promotion is meant to persuade your target and prospective audience to come and watch your motion picture. Audiences are so complex and unpredictable, moreover there are a lot of things that continue to capture their attention and your film will be competing with all those demands. Therefore, your film marketing and promotion effort should be outstanding, unforgettable and compelling. Hollywood has successfully mounted tremendous marketing campaigns using a variety of techniques to realise a huge return on investment. The techniques used by Hollywood range from movie posters, trailers, online platforms, instore visuals, billboards, interviews, pilot episodes, online, press conferences, email lists and so much more.

Trailers are film advertisements released weeks or months before a film is released for public viewing. It is made from different sequences of the film which has been chosen properly. Movie trailers are made to make the public aware of what they should expect from the film and creates curiosity and desire to watch the motion picture. Trailers are only given two and a half minutes to air their clips and it should not be more than that, therefore the producers have to ensure they utilize that time carefully giving adequate information to audience but not specifically pre-empting the viewing experience. Movie trailers sometimes have sophisticated special effects in some scenes which were not utilized in the original film itself. This is very effective as it increases the hype of the audience making the film itself a blockbuster in the end. Trailers can be shown on television, the internet, cinemas, instore and indoor advertising platforms and interactive billboards.

Film posters are incredibly important in terms of a film marketing technique. They are created to promote films and to intrigue audiences but there is a larger market for collecting film posters and older, original movie posters are in great demand. Movie posters are an important element in the film marketing mix for big film studios and independent productions. When a movie gets released, a studio or film production will usually pre-release a movie poster as promotional material. This poster, which encompasses the message and feeling of the film, will be the main source of attention for people wanting to read about that movie (Alexander, 2011). It is designed to portray the theme, the mood and genre of the film and provide critical information which leads people to pay attention, create interest, invoke desire, and make a date to watch it.

The film industry has grown to an extent where there are gurus who commands a large following and whose feedback can make or break a movie’s performance at box office. Film producers nowadays work with film analysts and critics, media personnel and other stakeholders. These stakeholders have an opportunity to preview the film before it is released to the market and they can use word of mouth, blogging, tv shows or general discussions on radio, tv and the internet to push word of the impending release and what the audiences should expect. This is a more powerful way of advertising a film.

Some film studios such as Marvel have gone to some lengths to share some behind the scenes footage for their upcoming films such as Thor: Ragnarok and Ant Man.Pilot episodes have become a big thing in the television show business. A television pilot also known as a pilot or a pilot episode, sometimes marketed as a tele-movie, is a standalone episode of a television series that is used to sell the show to a television network. The pilot episode is made on its own as a test for whether a show might work. Then the executives at the network decide if they’re going to “pick up” the show. Often, the pilot serves as the first episode, but not always. (Wikipedia)

Television show appearances and previews have become a hit recently in the USA. With most television channels commanding massive audiences, film producers have resorted to marketing their films on television shows such as The Ellen Degeneres show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Larry King, America Today, Dr. Phil, Jerry Springer Show and Graham Norton Show (Ranker.com). Apart from the television shows, film producers can utilize news hour on television since it has a huge coveragetherefore exposing your film to a large audience. Fox News had an average of 2.42 million viewers in 2017 (Otterson, 2017).

With the proliferation of a plethora of online tools, platforms and technologies, film marketing and promotion has been simplified allowing every person who can lay hands on a camera or smartphone to shoot, produce and share motion pictures without the huddles of yesteryear. The internet offers platforms such as YouTube where a company, studio or individual can create a channel to promote their film at the fraction of the cost. YouTube offers you tons of sharing options that allows you to integrate social media and as well as obtain analytics on your audience activities. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are more of the tools that continue to simplify the task of film marketing on the internet. Major television shows such as Burn Notice, Boston Legal, Wonder Woman and The Game of Thrones have an active community of fans which has allowed the franchises to get valuable feedback from their followers. Social media presence helps filmmakers to reach out and be reached by their audience. The more you engage your audience the more they talk about your product and that word of mouth is more like positive reviews.

Film festivals in America play a pivotal role to market film. Film festivals have become a first port of call for amateur and independent filmmakers. American film festivals include Sundance Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Hawaii International Film Festival.

In video film marketing has become an in thing. This trending form of marketing is when an advertiser embeds a miniature trailer which pops up as audiences are watching a host film. This trending technique is largely employed on DSTV channels. While watching a movie of your choice, a picture in picture video announcing a new release or showcasing talent from that film with the ÜP Next in IN Theatres. YouTube, an online video platform has integrated this method well and done more. It appends all sorts of adverts prior to playing your content and if your content is long it is punctuated with ads at interviews accordingly. Most film producers such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Apple have harnessed the power of in video advertising and its working.

Flyers are also an easy and cost-effective way to market a film. They become more powerfulwhen they use eye-catching headlines and bold images to draw people’s attention. When using images in marketing, it is imperative to follow the relevant copyright requirements and credit the image source accordingly.

Apart from the above a filmmaker can also create an online presence through their website, press coverage through conferences or junkets, prey on the word of mouth, build an email list, tweeting,event marketing, blogging and using Whatsapp to spread the word. There is so much a filmmaker can do to market their film depending on the budget, experience and audience in question. It is prudent to note that just because an opportunity is available is not a guarantee it will work outside the box; a filmmaker is greatly advised to conduct research and work hard to get a maximum return on investment. It should further be noted that marketing is a fulltime job which requires a lot of research and preparation and thus should be prioritised and budgeted for.

References

  1. BFI Neighbourhood Cinema. 10 Ways To Promote Your Community Cinema Accessed at: https://www.bfi.org.uk/neighbourhoodcinema/10-ways-promote-your-community-cinema Accessed on 28/09/2018
  2. Film Education, 2003. Teaching Trailers.
  3. Dave Roos “How Movie Marketing Works” 25 September 2008.
  4. HowStuffWorks.com. <https://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/movie-marketing.htm> 18 October 2018
  5. Otterson, J. 2017. Cable News Ratings: MSNBC Posts Big Percentage Gains, Fox News Stays Number One, CNN Sets Records (UPDATED) Available at: https://variety.com/2017/tv/news/cable-news-ratings-msnbc-fox-news-cnn-1202637968/ Accessed on: 21/10/2018
  6. Importance Of Movie Trailers In The Movie Industry Available at: https://bestmovietrailersblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/importance-of-movie-trailers-in-the-movie-industry/ Accessed on: 21/10/2018
  7. Alexander, I. 2011. Why movie poster art is so important Available at: http://filmindustrynetwork.biz/why-movie-poster-art-is-so-important/11530 Accessed on: 21/07/2018
  8. Wikipedia contributors. Television pilot. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. October 12, 2018, 23:53 UTC. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Television_pilot&oldid=863779859. Accessed October 21, 2018

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