Marketing to Moviegoers, or How Not to Annoy Your Target Audience

Social-media-for-public-relations1I love movies, but there’s nothing I hate more than the inescapable, in your face marketing campaigns that go along with them.  Nowadays, we’re not only exposed to some of the more traditional marketing tactics of the magazine/newspaper, TV/radio and theatrical trailer variety, but the emergence of digital media outlets has created a whole new frenzy of advertisements for potential audiences to deal with.

In Marketing to Moviegoers: A Handbook of Strategies and Tactics, author Robert Marich offers readers an in depth overview of how to properly and successfully harness the powers of marketing to film audiences. As skeptical as I was at first to read a book that explains the proper processes and timelines for all avenues of movie/media marketing, the book ultimately reminded me of my experience at a company that’s changing the ways in which content creators market their products, and that there are in fact ways to make promotional content that’s interesting, fun and interactive, rather than annoying, for consumers.

Last summer, I had an internship at Comedy Central’s Brand Creative department in NYC. Although my department was part of CC’s overall marketing team, we focused specifically on how to make promotional content for films and television shows that was creative and engaging for audiences. Our goal, first and foremost, was to produce promos and campaigns that were as enjoyable to watch as the content we were promoting. I was assigned to the On-Air sector of the department, but I worked very closely with a newer addition to the Brand Creative team: Fan Engagement. This team’s approaches to marketing CC’s content was, in my opinion, quite innovative compared to traditional methods of media marketing. In chapter 4 of Marketing to Moviegoers, entitled Marketing in Digital Media, Marich explains the many ways companies are using digital platforms to market films to consumers. This chapter covers everything from employing SNS’s like Facebook and Twitter to posting trailers and TV commercials online, tactics which I’m sure all of us are quite familiar with. CC’s Fan Engagement team seeks to avoid these already tired out marketing strategies, and looks instead for ways for fans to market their content via social media.

One of the most interesting marketing campaigns I saw them put together was for one of Comedy Central’s newest shows, Broad City. The team created a hashtag for the show, and then scattered everything from posters to stickers to billboards for it around NYC. Sounds pretty familiar, right? Wrong. CC’s Fan Engagement team took to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, urging followers and fans to find the show’s promotional content, share it on the SNS of their choosing, and randomly selected sharers would get anything from tshirts to cast shout outs, invites to the premiere, and more. What’s more? If you were unable to find any of the content around the city, Fan Engagement would still reward you with the show’s tshirt, just for trying. Fans went nuts, and the positive effects of this strategy and many others like it are what continue to keep fans engaged and excited to tune in to Comedy Central everyday.

This kind of marketing, in which fans can actively participate in the marketing process is so much more interesting than traditional means of media marketing. It makes marketing enticing, rather than exhausting, and keeps fans in the loop without making them feel like they’re being force fed advertising. Not to mention, it gives audiences the opportunity to create the promotional content themselves, giving viewers the power to make or break a show. Some marketers would be too scared to give audiences this much power, but Comedy Central embraces their audience and wants them to be a part of the action, and so far this strategy has worked swimmingly for them. I’m interested to know if any of you have experienced any innovative marketing campaigns recently, and am looking forward to our discussion of marketing on Thursday!

Image found on Creative Commons.



  1. It would be interesting to make time in our discussion of Marich’s book to talk about the various reasons why the efforts of CC’s Fan Engagement division to market Broad City were so effective. One such reason might be that it sounds like the Fan Engagement team rather cannily exploited (a) the participatory nature of fan communities and (b) the fact that fans are, by their very nature, more engaged than a general audience. To a fan of Broad City, the chance to find ‘official’ promotional content in the city is great, but what’s even more appealing, I suspect, is that by sharing the find via social media, they act less as fans and more as promoters themselves; that is, they get to play a role, however small, in the official production of the show.

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