I’ve only been fishing once. I remember the small wooden dock with is well-worn splintered surface prickling against my sunburned skin in summer shorts. My 7-year old self fixated on grandpa searching through an extensive tackle box filled with flashy lures — sparkly ones that looked like Christmas tinsel, fishy ones that looked too real, florescent rubber squirmy worms and more. He was looking for just the RIGHT BAIT — the one the would HOOK the perfect fish. “Not any hook will do,” said Grandpa Bob, “these trout like BUGS, so we’ll feed them what they like.” He hooked a creepy crawling looking thing to my line and with feet dangling in cool Lake Michigan, I waited for something to BITE — hopefully the lure and not my toes. 🙂
Thinking back, I find that marketing movies is not much different than fishing. You can’t cast out your net too wide or pick any old lure. You need to know your audience, find the right bait to attract that audience and then cast it out there to see if you can grab their attention. We call it the HOOK, and it’s one of the most important element of positioning a film.
So, think about one point that makes your movie unique, and why an audience wants to see this and not something. Then, claim it as your hook! Keep it central in all your messaging and be consistent, so consumers are drawn to you…hook, line and sinker.
Did you know that Millennials (age 18 – 33) are now America’s largest generation? At 75MM strong in the U.S., they will exceed the population of the Boomers by 2028 (Pew Research). These highly educated, tech savvy individuals seem to hide behind their devices, but in reality they are extremely plugged in when it comes to social activism*:
61% of are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make change.
63% have have volunteered.
72% have educated a friend or family member about a cause and 50% believe it will make a difference.
79% are more likely to purchase a product from a company they know is socially or environmentally responsible.
66% are likely to recommend a socially/environmentally responsible product to friend.
However, according to Pew Research, this generation shows much lower levels of religious affiliation than Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, and represent the growing “unaffiliated” group. So, how do we connect with them regarding faith?
LET’S GET REAL! Our marketing messages must be AUTHENTIC. We need to listen to them, understand their concerns and address the problems of today, rather than dwelling on “how things used to be.” Speaking honestly and lovingly goes a long way with them. This is a “group mentality” culture that embraces teamwork and sharing, so we need to influence the herd, not just the individual. That same “group think” can be beneficial when it comes to marketing, if they are empowered to be part of the campaign process. Looking at strategic ways to engage this audience rather than speak at them is critical.
For example, gone are the days when a movie trailer was the primary way of announcing the latest summer blockbuster. This audience wants to be the “first to know” and “share with friend,” so social media plays a key role. Engaging, eventizing, rewarding and supporting are all meaningful approaches that speak to the heart of this generation.
Please don’t tell me the whole story. When I go to see your movie, I want to be a little surprised and not discover that ALL of the best moments were also in the trailer. The key to making a better trailer, is taking the consumers’ point of view. Although you may have been immersed in your film for YEARS, assume that they know nothing about your film! There may be multiple storylines, but the secret is to focus in on the main “hook,” so that the consumer will have an easy take-away when the trailer is done. To figure our your “hook,” it’s important to know your film’s positioning. This is one of my favorite things to brainstorm with my clients. It’s important to think of the film’s points of differentiation, tone and key selling points. Then, make sure those elements are communicated in an entertaining way.
Helpful note – sometimes it’s easier to place a shorter trailer in theater or for sponsorships. Although a 2:30 trailer is common, consider a 1:30 or :60 cut down to maximize all your long form advertising opportunities. Here are a few trailers that I consulted on last year:
Bible based films from the studios have taken quite a beating from the conservative Christian press this year. But, not surprisingly, consumers are a bit more forgiving when it comes to creative liberties in story telling. However, sometimes, there was a heavier balance of fiction than history in these films. What does that mean, though? Do these films have NO educational merit? Or, can these misinterpretations be teaching moments?
This was my challenge on Exodus: Gods and Kings, so I hired professor Craig Detweiler at Pepperdine University to partner with me on exploring the parallels of Jesus and Moses for a new film discussion guide. This new angle enabled us to take the attention away from the film’s flaws and focus on an interesting connection that the general audience may not have considered. It also helped us position the film better for the Easter release timig. Then, I worked with media partners to leverage this discussion guide as exclusive content, which provided significant media value for the client and meaningful editorial material for the press outlet. Win. Win.