Top movies and their Digital marketing strategies and promotions

With so much going on, these days movie makers have almost always got to do more than just put out an incredible trailer that leaves viewers desperate for more. (Although that always helps).

From the producers of some of the best-printed T-shirts around (if we do say so ourselves), we bring you…

Blair Witch Project

This is the granddaddy of today’s movie advertising strategies. Known to some as the best viral marketing campaign of all times, it is basic by today’s standards, but at the time it was truly revolutionary. It was 1999 after all, the internet was just getting started and marketers weren’t really worried about “going viral”.A year before releasing the film, the production company made a website that told the story of the legend starting from 1785. They say that the families of the missing had asked the production company to make a movie about the story for them. There are police photos, footage of news coverage, interviews with the family members and even parts of a journal from one of the three filmmakers. If you tried to look up the main actors on the IMDB pages, they showed up as “missing, presumed dead.” The team passed out missing person posters, too.


Sacha Baron Cohen’s outrageous character Borat was originally presented as a real, actual character, and the film played off of this. He was already pretty well known in the UK, but stateside he was nearly completely unknown. He appeared on late night shows and did interviews in character, doing a pointed job of skewering American culture, often to bewilderment. Most people didn’t know what to make of this very friendly but entirely clueless foreign journalist. Even when the outrageous film came out, a lot of people were still wondering what was real and what wasn’t, so much so that Salon actually published an article separating truth from fact.

The Dark Knight

This installation of the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman series started its advertising campaign over a year before the film actually came out. The first step was a fake campaign for the politician Harvey Dent that was centred around a very clever website. They also ran scavenger hunts in different cities, created and distributed a fictional newspaper called The Gotham Times and even created cakes with cellphones baked into them that fans could later use to ring up the Joker. They also left Joker playing cards with “HA HA” in comic book stores. They also threw in a handful of more traditional movie marketing campaign tactics, like gripping teasers and trailers and eye-catching posters. The results? 11 million people participated and spent $1 billion in ticket sales across the world, meaning there were a massive number of people in theatres on opening night. And a couple of awards for the campaign, including the Cannes Lions Cyber Grand Prix Award and the Silver Cyber Award.

The Fault in Our Stars

This film is based on a book of the same name that was a massive hit with teenagers. If you’re not familiar, it’s a story about two teens with cancer who meet and fall in love. Cue lots of tears and teenage angst. So, the best place for the film version to promote itself was on social media sites that are popular with teens, like Instagram and Tumblr (where it actually hosted its official site). There were plenty of swoon-worthy photos of the stars of the film, as well as peeks behind the scenes and on set in a video, GIF and photo format. Author of the book John Green was also allowed to be on set and to share information, and he regularly tweeted out snippets of information that eager fans devoured. On top of that, they recruited brand ambassadors to spread the word even further. 20,000 people volunteered! That’s 20,000 people who were willing to do lots of free publicity. They did such a good job of getting the word out on social media that when the actors made appearances, events had to be shut down because there were just too many people in the crowd. All we have to say is #TFIOS #FTW.

The Hunger Games

Another huge young adult book series, another huge budget film for Hollywood. And like The Fault in Our Stars, this campaign did a fantastic job of reaching out to the teens and young audiences that would line up in droves to see it. They had a massive online campaign featuring an entire online world, with ways to let the most dedicated fans unlock sneak peeks and exclusive content. On top of that, they got a bunch of artists to participate in the soundtrack that were already a hit with their core audience, including Taylor Swift, Maroon 5 and Birdy. Other less-conventional strategies included the electronic remix of “The Hanging Tree”, a song from the film’s soundtrack and the release of a line of “Capital Couture” clothing.

Jurassic World

We’re pretty sure a sequel to a popular movie series that’s basically about people running away from giant dinosaurs was going to be a hit anyway. I don’t really like action movies, but throw in some pseudo-science and a couple of dinos with big teeth and bigger roars and I’m there! But although Jurassic World came with a built-in fan base and an appealing concept, they had to market it as more than just another sequel. They created a promotional website that was like the theme park website would be if Jurassic World really existed, down to details like the park map, the current temperature on Isla Nublar and dinosaur fact sites. The best part of this website was that every single page got you towards buying a ticket for the amusement park and help you plan your trip. Of course, what you were really heading towards buying was a ticket to see the film at your local cinema.

Paranormal Activity

This scary film generated huge buzz online before being released by using its “found footage” style trailers. A bit like the Blair Witch Project, it made it seem like a real documentary rather than a fictional film. The trailer showed snippets of tense moments from the movie and quotes about how scary it was but didn’t reveal much information about the plot itself. It also included audience reactions of people jumping out of their seats and screaming as they watched the movie. On top of that, they also created an online petition where people would sign and ask that the movie came to their local theatre. It’s considered the first time a major studio used this technique to get their marketing campaign to go viral. It was a huge success and got people talking about the film.

The Simpsons Movie

By the time The Simpsons Movie came out, the world’s favourite yellow family had been on the air for about two decades. Like Jurassic World, this meant it already had a lot of built-in fans who would probably see the film anyway — but they had to do something extra to make it clear it wouldn’t just be an extra-long episode of the cartoon. So, they brought some of the most recognisable locations from the series to real life. 7-elevens became Kwik-E-Marts, Jet Blue became “The Official Airline of Springfield” and Burger King let you make a Simpson’s version of yourself on their website.

Toy Story 3

Just about any Pixar film is highly anticipated, and as the third instalment in a much-beloved series, Toy Story 3 was certainly no exception.They were clever about targeting their marketing efforts, too. There were lots of families with young kids, naturally, but there were also campaigns for people in their 20s who had fond memories of watching the Toy Story films when they were children.  University students got special advanced screenings. For people who were slightly older, they ran a “Groovin’ With Ken” ad series that hailed back to the 70s and a fictional “Lots-o-Huggin Bear” commercial said to be from the 1980s.This was a great way to talk to lots of different audiences, and the film has made over $1 billion. In case you were wondering, that makes it the third most successful animated film ever, only behind Frozen (first) and Minions (second).

A Wrinkle In Time

Ava Duvernay made history here by being the first black director to helm a studio film with a budget over $100 million.

A Quiet Place

Director and star John Krasinski offered mainstream audiences an excuse to check out a horror flick by wrapping it inside a family drama, telling the story of how people have learned to survive in near silence following an invasion of aliens who attack at any sound.

Sorry to Bother You

Oakland hip-hop star Boots Riley’s feature directorial debut captured everyone’s attention, casting Lakeith Stanfield in a story rooted in magical realism as a frustrated man who finds the key to success .

The Death of Stalin

Let’s face it, the idea of political satire might seem a bit trite and even old-fashioned in the current US political climate. But the campaign for the movie from Veep creator Armando Iannucci used a high-profile cast to sell a dark comedy set in Russia as various government officials vie for power following the untimely passing of its totalitarian leader.

Bahubali 2

Baahubali’ (English meaning: The One with Strong Arms) is an Indian epic-historical fiction film filled with oodles of drama, action and visual art. The franchise had two cinematic parts namely ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ as the first part which opened worldwide on 10th July 2015. The second installment in this series, ‘Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’ released on 28th April 2017.

The first film was made with a budget of ₹180 crore, which was considered the most expensive in India, back then. Both the parts were supposed to be produced on a joint budget of ₹250 crore initially. But according to one of the producers Shobu, the joint budget was later increased to around ₹400-₹450 crore range, especially for the sequel.

★ Business Objectives:

1) Right from the onset, the chief people linked with this project had a clear vision to have a massive pan-India release for the franchise.

2) They wanted to make a national film, instead of letting it stay restricted only to regional languages like Telugu and Tamil. Even at their first trailer screening event, the director talked about his deep emotional connect with epic works of literature like ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ along with comic books called ‘Amar Chitra Katha’, which further gave him the inspiration to conceptualize the idea behind this film.

3) By integrating all the cinematic parameters with state-of-the-art technology, the makers wished to provide an optimum user experience on celluloid so as to win hearts of the mass audience.

★ Highly Effective Social Media Campaigns and Digital Marketing Strategies Undertaken:

Here is a curated list of how ‘Baahubali’ franchise dominated the social media game comprehensively.

1) WhatsApp –

As part of their promotional maneuvres, the film’s unit started with one of the most widely-used instant messaging platforms, WhatsApp.

2) Facebook –

They ran various campaigns on FB to stay well-connected with their ardent fans. Be it the ‘Baahubali Profile Picture Frame’ contest, broadcasting ‘Live’ on Facebook by offering titbits about the film or the ‘Baahubali Comics’ using Facebook canvas (immersive and interactive mobile.One of the noted campaigns was the launch of Baahubali-themed animated stickers inside FB Messenger app, which saw a sudden spike in its downloads within a week. Their official Facebook page has a fan base of more than 4.21 million till date and is still coming.

3) YouTube –

Just like the methods of storytelling in Bollywood have changed drastically in past few years, so have the techniques in social media marketing too. Their team unveiled short ‘Making-of’ and ‘Behind-the-scene’ videos on their official YouTube channel, sporting the film’s lead actors and actresses on their respective birthday occasions. This plainly kept the audience on their toes, every other month. Fans and followers were up for a visual treat after viewing numerous dialogue-trailers, which kept those anticipated subscribers captivated for a brief period of time.

4) Twitter –

Since the movie took over the world audience by storm, such huge was the magnitude of its craze that quite many hashtags like #Baahubali, #BaahubaliOnJuly10th, #LiveTheEpic, #ReLiveTheEpic, #Baahubali2, #BaahubaliAtComicCon, etc. remained favourites of members of the Twitterati for months. Their team even ran ‘Baahubali Quest’ Twitter campaigns by cleverly asking their followers to follow the cast & crew’s social media profiles by using the hashtag #ADayWithBaahubali, in order to win lucky tickets for the movie. The film’s official Twitter handle has slightly more than 576K followers so far.

5) Website –

Possessing a self-hosted website is totally advisable for one’s brand, which can then rank higher in search engines if it is popular or generating huge traffic. And in the case of the official website of ‘Baahubali’ film franchise, it was no different.

6)Merchandise –

An array of merchandise including ‘Baahubali’ lifestyle accessories, gadget add-ons, costumes and film’s collectibles were made available on their website, thus allowing the film to generate extra revenue. Such post-movie-release game plan was bound to bear fruit because the film’s re-watch value escalated and so did the audience engagement rate.

7) Tumblr –

Fans from all over the world poured their enormous love and showed respect for their favourite characters in the film, undoubtedly! Exclusive and profuse amount of user-generated content was received in the time leading up to the film’s release. Thus the film’s back-end team decided to cash in on this opportunity by using a short-form blog to promote the multimedia and other forms of content. Traditional art sketches, digital artwork, unconventional materials and fan mails constituted this website in countless numbers.

8) Blog –

One of the many uses of possessing a blog is that it is nothing but a cost-effective form of content marketing. With a view to providing more insights on the worldwide success that ‘Baahubali’ franchise had achieved, their team kept sharing timely and relevant information on their official blog.

9) Official Game app –

The reliability and user engagement of ‘Baahubali: The Game (Official)’ app can be very well judged from the fact that it generated 10 million+ downloads from Google Play Store .

10) Official Movie app –

The makers of the film utilized Google Play Store platform not just to market their game app, but even for their movie app.

★ Reactions and Reception :

The mimic question “Why Kattappa Killed Baahubali?” grabbed the humongous attention of viewers on national and international platforms alike. In less than no time, the hashtag #WKKB went viral on social media platforms, almost like throwing gasoline on a fire. Every other WhatsApp forward message or Troll pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram had posts/feeds flooded with priceless memes around it, every other day. It made the audience laugh hard till their stomach hurt and this scenario continued for many months ahead.Even a plethora of blogs and websites indirectly used various content marketing techniques to come up with special-dedicated versions of their comments/views on this movie – be it about its characters or music or VFX and what not. This further produced a ripple effect to encourage word of mouth, favoring the already released ‘Baahubali’ as well as for ‘Baahubali 2’ (which, at that time, was slated for an official release about 2 years later after the arrival of the first part).

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