3 Genius Marketing Campaigns From Movies That all Marketers Will Appreciate – Entertainment Focus


Every year, millions of dollars are poured into marketing campaigns for the latest movies, sometimes overtaking production costs entirely. We all know marketing is important. A movie barely exists if nobody watches it, after all.

The internet and social media have brought new, interesting, and often cheaper ways to market a movie. Here are three clever marketing campaigns that went viral over the last two decades.

Ex Machina, 2014

Try before you buy is an age-old marketing strategy. No matter what it is, giving audiences a taste of the action is a great way to familiarize them with what you offer them. You see this best with online services. Streaming services can give you a free month while gaming services can offer one free spin each day. It shows the audience that they are valued, that online businesses are fine with give and take, and trust they can win you over with a glimpse of their product.

So where does Ex Machina come into this? The movie focuses on Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer chosen to test AI robot Ava (Alicia Vikander) for true consciousness. To market the movie, an Ava profile was created on Tinder and made available for many in the SXSW area. When swiped on, she would ask a series of questions before linking to the movie.

It fits well with the theme of the movie and gives audiences a glimpse at the questions the movie addresses, and it of course went viral. Even more alarming is that AI nowadays gives us the kind of interactions you’d expect from an AI struggling with self-awareness.

The Dark Knight, 2008

Widely regarded as the best of the Nolan Batman trilogy, along with one of the best Joker portrayals of all time, The Dark Knight pit Christian Bale’s Batman against Heath Ledger’s clown prince of crime.

The Dark Knight
Credit: Unsplash

In 2007, the movie’s marketers pulled off an ARG that fit the Joker’s MO. It started with Comic-Con goes in San Diego finding dollar bills that had been defaced with clown markings. “Why so serious?” the bills said, leading many online to a website that tried to recruit them, giving them an address and a time. When people met there, the site told them to look up. That’s where a skywriter wrote a phone number in the air, and that was just the start.

You can find a full retrospective here of the ARG that captured over 10 million people’s imaginations and went on to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

Toy Story 3, 2010

The marketing department had an easy job for Toy Story 3 since everybody already loved the series. Even still, they went to infinity and beyond when selling it to us. For what was then thought to be the last outing of Woody, Buzz and the gang, Pixar instead showed off somebody new through a guerrilla marketing campaign – Lots-o’ Huggin’ Bear. Now over a decade later, we know him as the antagonist of the movie.

To show him off, Pixar made a fake commercial for a toy that didn’t exist, complete with an 80’s veneer, which is to say low quality, saccharine music, and a lot of video tape distortion. These were uploaded online and created an air of mystery about who this new character was. It makes a lot more sense after seeing the movie, knowing Lots-o’ is an old toy whose villainy comes from being abandoned.

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