From the “GentleMinions” phenomenon to the release of “Minions 2”, to the video of grannies reacting to the film “Smile”, via “The Blair Witch Project” and “Brice de Nice”, let’s look back at five examples of marketing strategy of the past 20 years.
It is difficult to escape these marketing videos that accompany the release of a film, generally intended for a young audience, particularly in horror or animation cinema. Sometimes these are public reaction videos or hidden cameras, such as the release of Carrie : in a bar, an actress propelled a fake customer against the wall thanks to her “superpowers“.
Recently, the video of grannies reacting to the horror film Smile has accumulated 2 million views on YouTube. Since the release of Blair Witch Project in 1999, distributors quickly understood that, via the Internet, young people could largely participate in the advertising of a film and used their imagination to come up with more inventive marketing strategies than each other. Here is a list of some nuggets.
Smile by Parker Finn
Currently in cinemas, the horror film Smile by Parker Finn with Sosie Bacon has had notable success with nearly $50 million raised in the United States since it began operating. A success that can be explained by the very good word-of-mouth that accompanies its release, but also by a particularly effective marketing strategy on social networks.
Witness this video of grannies filmed watching the film, which has more than 2 million views on YouTube. Paramount Pictures also sent actors to sit in the audience at several baseball games. All stood motionless in the stands, smiling menacingly at the cameras throughout the match.
Minions 2 and his “GentleMinions”
The success of Minions 2 is also due to a fine marketing strategy on social networks. Following a call on TikTok, fans around the world (almost exclusively male) arrived in suits and ties to imitate Gru, the film’s main character.
By slipping into the skin of the character, these “GentleMinions” did not hesitate to actually play the “wicked”, talking loudly or eating loudly during the sessions. Some cinema operators have ended up prohibiting several groups of teenagers in costume from accessing their rooms in order to avoid overflows.
Brice of Nice by James Huth
Using the Internet to promote a film is not new. Indeed, the first French film to have its online campaign is none other than Brice of Nice, released in 2005. The distributor thus favored the sites created following Jean Dujardin’s sketch on the famous surfer to make the fans the spokespersons for the film. Online contests were also organized to win Brice’s t-shirt. Finally, the sites served to announce a “breaking lesson” at the Fontaine des Innocents in Paris, on November 13, Saint-Brice Day. Set only two days earlier, the meeting brought together 300 people.
theBlair Witch Project by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez
The most inventive marketing strategies are often those put in place for the release of horror films, a tradition that dates back to 1999 and the release of Blair Witch Projectan American independent horror film belonging to the found-footage subgenre (characterized by the supposed reuse of a found fictional film).
The film was a huge commercial success and paid off its small $60,000 budget several thousand times over. The marketing strategy is just as economical and intelligent: to create the buzz, it is said that this documentary was found a year after the disappearance of the “students”. The co-director even goes so far as to create a website around the witch and her myth accompanied by a fake wanted notice for the three “students”. Even though social networks do not exist, the rumor spreads like wildfire and will persist for years.
Paranormal Activity by Oren Peli
In the continuity of Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, an independent found-footage film released in 2009, also offers a good lesson in marketing. The distributor has the idea of letting the students promote the film themselves, showing it only on university campuses during midnight sessions filmed and then broadcast on the Internet as a trailer.
The videos quickly go viral and the sessions arouse great curiosity due to their rarity. The distributor thus ended up creating a petition on which Internet users could share their desire to see the film broadcast in their city, with a key promise: it would be released nationwide if the petition reached one million requests.
The magicians ofElusive
To get away from horror movies, let’s go back to the case ofElusive by Louis Leterrier released in 2013, the story of a group of burglar magicians. The distributor had the idea of imitating a key scene of the film by releasing a shower of five-euro notes on spectators during a preview.