Have A Blockbuster Mentality in The Advertising World

By Zach Esswein

Will your next campaign be a hit or a bust? How can you create urgency for your call to action? How can you engage your audience in creating awareness?

In recent years silver screen promos have been finding ways to do just that.  So, let’s turn to the world of blockbuster movies to see what can be learned from box office hits and busts. 

Hold onto your popcorn as we break down how studios create marketing campaigns to win the audience over or lose right at the start. 

The Urgent Drive to Sell a Ticket

When studios set a release date, they are expected to sell millions of tickets immediately. Once a movie transitions to streaming there will be a decline in box office revenue, so they must create enough attention and awareness to fill movie theaters and create buzz. 

Over the past summer, two extremely different blockbusters came out during the same weekend that did great at the box office. How did they go head-to-head and still fill seats? Let’s take a look. 

It’s a Barbie World

One of the marketing strategies that Barbie promoters did well was cross-promotion. With over 100 different brand partnerships, going an entire day without seeing something Barbie on a screen near you was impossible. Marketers knew they had to be persistent and connect with audiences so they even had  “real-life Barbie dreamhouse available through Airbnb.”  These strategies provide a Master Class in creating anticipation.

What was the result of this massive investment, beyond the hype? The Barbie movie knew it wanted to sell early and quickly, and according to Comicbook “Barbie will have the biggest opening weekend of any film in 2023 thus far, taking in $155 million from theaters in North America.” Urgency for barbie was a strategy going into the campaign and it paid off in the end.

Generate Bee Buzz

 One movie marketing’s key strategies is showing trailers and screen testing to create excitement among fandoms. Blockbusters tend to create a lot of energy when given a first look, but the marketing strategies need to be able to hold that buzz until it is time to release the movie. Keeping fans engaged for a long period of time through trailers, test screenings, public relations, publicity and fan events is crucial. A great example of this, Top Gun Maverick. The marketers trusted in the product and created early buzz so customers had excitement toward it.

Connecting with audiences

Social media is a big way to be creative and get audiences on board with what you are trying to sell. Releasing social media embargoes is a strategic way to get people excited about the movie in the coming week. Social media can also help communicate with fans about where, when and how to get tickets. Whether it is through fan communities, targeted advertising or influencer marketing, your public lives on social media. Finding ways to engage where they are is key.

Top Takeaways 

There is a lot to learn from the hits and misses of marketing blockbusters. Here are some key takeaways.

  1. Understand who you are marketing toward and why
  2. Be creative and unique 
  3. Create a campaign experience with urgency 
  4. Use social media to help generate buzz through fandoms 
  5. Use promotions with other brands to reach a wider audience

What will you build into your next campaign to create blockbuster buzz? 

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