10 films with amazing marketing campaigns (2016)


What's a movie without a marketing campaign? What's a film without an explosive impact on social media?

Judging by recent years, it's clear the public wants great marketing; films with amazing marketing campaigns and innovative advertising are faring much better than films that rely on one trailer and little else.

From cross-promotion to Snapchat strategies and a film that nearly doomed us all to nuclear warfare, these movies show how awesome it can be when you're brave and bold with your marketing strategy.

As marketeers and movie fans, we've listed our top 10 movie marketing campaigns for your cinematic enjoyment...

Poster design:  LA

Poster design: LA

#1 The Secret Life of Pets, 2016

Releasing this month, The Secret Life of Pets from Illumination Entertainment went heavy on the product partnership angle, teaming up with one of the world's biggest pet stores where the film's characters had a 'PetSmart takeover' across the brand's shops and digital channels.

On the social media side of things, the movie's official Facebook page is using clips and scenes from the film to target their relevant audience with 'relatable' posts; 'When you've been watching what you eat and it's time to get out the holiday wardrobe' introduces a video of a bunny rabbit eating a carrot so fast it's blurry, while 'Trying to finish up work for a bank holiday weekend' captions a dog kicking documents off a table. Simple, simple stuff - but it makes people like, share, and comment like there's no tomorrow.

A cross-promotion that manages to be relevant, fun and creative is always a winner, so it's always worth considering who your potential partners could be.

Marketing Magic score: 5/10

Poster design:  BLT Communications

Poster design: BLT Communications

#2 The Ghostbusters remake, 2016

Unfortunately, not all marketing is fun. When Columbia Pictures released the news about the 2016 all-female Ghostbusters film, the internet exploded with rrraaaggeee! Anger over the women-only main characters sparked a lot of media attention, which turned it into an unpleasant snowball that wouldn't stop growing.

The female stars of the film have been asked constantly about this public reaction, and their responses often provoke even more annoyance, but their sense of humour has kept the franchise's sense of fun alive, which is the most important thing. Love it or hate it, you've definitely talked about it.

Marketing Magic score: 2/10

Poster design:  BLT Communications

Poster design: BLT Communications

#3 The Avengers movies, 405AD to 3 billion years in the future

If you've ever wondered what it'll take to get verified on Twitter, I hold the answer: become a hugely popular (but still fictional) comic book and film character. Tony Stark - that's Iron Man's real name, Grandma, get with the times! - has his very own Twitter. Its 1.22M followers see tweets promoting the films and related news.

A partnership with another huge brand is a no-brainer marketing move. Marvel and Lego teamed up to create a custom range of superhero lego sets. Who plays Lego? Kids! Who should beg their parents to take them to see the Avengers? Kids!

The Hershey Company and Dr Pepper also wriggled into the action with limited edition products. With that much money and pulling power, your marketing should come easy, but don't panic! You don't need a big budget to be creative in your marketing. Marvel could've sponsored the British Arachnological Society and their collection of Black Widows for a cheaper (and more interesting) alternative.

Marketing Magic score: 5/10

Poster design:  LA

Poster design: LA

#4 Pitch Perfect 2, 2015

The musical sequel to the box-office smash Pitch Perfect turned its marketing level all the way up to aca-awesome. It was the first movie ever to use Snapchat in its marketing strategy, a move that earned them 300,000 followers on the platform. At their LA premiere, there was a Twitter Mirror, an Instagram Instastop, a Tumblr GIF booth and a Snapchat stop where the stars could literally create marketing content just by pulling a face - what a great idea!

Exploring new social media channels for a multi-million-dollar film is a bold idea that worked brilliantly, in our opinion.Their target audience of women aged 16-30, with a strong fanbase of teenagers, lines up perfectly with the kind of marketing tools and ideas they used. A harmonised round of applause for Universal Pictures.

Marketing Magic score: 7/10

amazing marketing - films - blair witch project

#5 The Blair Witch Project, 1999

Thought to be the first movie marketed mainly by and through the internet, The Blair Witch Project used 'creepy uncertainty' to its advantage. An official trailer would've taken away some of the terror, but a website full of fake police reports and newsreel-style interviews was enough to sow the seeds of doubt; suddenly, no one was quite sure whether this was a real life documentary or a fictitious film.

Added extra: the film makers handed out posters at the film's screenings, asking people to come forward with any information about the 'missing students'. The IMDB page listed the actors as 'missing, presumed dead' for the first year after release, and the production company hired actors to film clips as police officers and investigators involved in the case. Cheap to pull off, and terrifyingly convincing.

Marketing Magic score: 8/10

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Poster design:  BLT Communications

Poster design: BLT Communications

#6 Men in Black 3, 2012

One of Sony's marketing moves for Men in Black 3 was to create a fictional super-sleuther called 'bugeyes', a 14 year old blogger who wrote about the existence of aliens and 'the men in black suits'. The campaign generated over 129,000 Facebook likes and added a fresh narrative layer to a story that was at risk of becoming old, by using successful viral marketing in a bid to advertise to younger viewers.

It was a simple strategy - one boy and his blog - but it added a huge amount to the story and themes of the film. It's kudos from us.

Marketing Magic score: 5/10

Poster design: IntralinkFilm

Poster design: IntralinkFilm

#7 The Dark Knight, 2008

When it comes to films with amazing marketing campaigns, comic book movies are like the ultimate Mafia bosses. For The Dark Knight, Warner Bros pulled out all the stops, beginning with vandalised joker cards popping up in comic book shops. The cards led curious people to a site, IBelieveInHarveyDent.com, where visitors could get their very first glimpse of Heath Ledger as the Joker.

At San Diego's Comic Con 2007, fans were handed dollar bills with the Joker's face scribbled on; these bills were breadcrumb clues that led to an aeroplane outside the convention, sky-writing even more cryptic clues in the air.

A year-long campaign of Easter eggs, hidden clues, puzzles, and code-cracking in treasure hunts put the film into fans' minds a whole 12 months in advance, and helped make that version of the Joker an unforgettable force to be reckoned with.

Marketing Magic score: 10/10

Poster design:  Empire Design

Poster design: Empire Design

#8 Ex-Machina, 2015

A film about robots and love has the digital world at its fingertips when looking for marketing ideas, and Ex-Machina did exactly that; in the run-up to the film's release, attendees at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas were approached by an attractive girl on Tinder (Alicia Vikander, the movie's main actress) who asked them questions about love and being human, before revealing the stunt and breaking a few hearts.

An easy marketing method that's free to employ - we like it.

Marketing Magic score: 7/10

Poster design:  Ten30 Studios

Poster design: Ten30 Studios

#9 Deadpool, 2016

Now, you knew you'd find Deadpool in here, didn't you? In our studio, Deadpool's a strong contender for top spot in this list of films with amazing marketing campaigns.

Creative billboards marketing the film as different genres (a 'good way to trick your girlfriend into seeing it') or as Emojis, while the Deadpool character could be found promoting testicular cancer awareness advert, trawling for love on Tinder, posing with guns in risqué film posters, massaging American TV talk show host Conan O'Brien - yeah. The list goes on.

It's interesting to note that while Deadpool (Wade Wilson) is a Marvel character, Deadpool was a 20th Century Fox film. It might explain the unrestrained and unbelievable marketing ideas, of which we thoroughly approve.

Marketing Magic score: 10/10

Poster design:  LA

Poster design: LA

#10 The Interview, 2014

The Seth Rogen and James Franco 'let's-bash-North-Korea-and-Kim-Jong-un' film didn't quite come to a cinema near you.

In June of 2014, 3 months after the film was announced and 6 months before it would finally be released, The Guardian reported that the film was making a stir in the North Korean government. KCNA, the state news agency in North Korea, promised that the country would hit back with 'stern and merciless' retaliation if the film was released, calling it the 'most blatant act of terrorism and war' with all the level-headed calm we've come to expect from the country.

In the months that followed, prominent North Korean politicians publicly lambasted the film, and the KCNA asked President Obama if the film could be pulled. The film's release was delayed for 2 months and Sony ended up making post-production changes to the film's content.

In December, a bunch of internet hackers wriggled into Sony's computer networks and leaked emails and documents, asking for them to not release 'the movie of terrorism'. The hackers issued a warning that they would attack any film premieres that went ahead, while an organisation dedicated to the human rights of North Koreans promised to release copies of The Interview by delivering them via balloon drops to North Korea.

The worldwide movie release was cancelled, everyone was talking about it, and the film was eventually released quietly on Netflix in January 2015, but by that point, illegal copies of the movie had been played across laptop screens the whole world over. We're not entirely sure who won this battle, but the marketing was definitely impressive.

Marketing Magic score: 10/10

amazing marketing - films - 28 days later

*Bonus mention*: 28 Days Later, 2002

One of the best zombie films to grace our flesh-ridden Earth, 28 Days Later doesn't quite make the list because it wasn't technically the film company who hit the marketing sweet spot. Revered author and all-round-good-guy Stephen King loved the film so much he reportedly bought the tickets for every single seat in a cinema showing in Maine and handed out free tickets to people passing by.

Never has word-of-mouth marketing been so effective - how could you ignore Stephen King's recommendation? For your own safety, you shouldn't...

Our #1 movie marketing tip to take away

Even if you're not in the movie business, you can still be bold, creative, and think outside the box. As you can see, it definitely works!

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