Keystone Marketing Institute | Marketing the Summer Blockbuster

Author: Jack Martin

I love summertime. The days are longer, it’s beautiful out, and I can finally get away with wearing my Crocs in public (or at least I try.) Living in Wisconsin, I spend a third of the year digging my car out of the snow, so you can be sure that when summer finally hits I am more than ready to enjoy everything it has to offer. 

One of those things is the summer movies. Every year around this time we are graced with a dozen or so big budget films that either live up to the hype (Jaws, Star Wars), or don’t (Green Lantern anyone?) 2016 is no different. With movies like Captain America: Civil War, Warcraft, and Batman V Superman already out, it’s sure to be another jam packed couple of months of cinematic entertainment.

This past weekend saw the release of Independence Day: Resurgence, a sequel to Twentieth Century Fox’s 1996 mega hit Independence Day. Given that it is yet another sequel in an industry flooded with sequels, the task in generating hype for the film was no easy task. In an effort to try standing out from the pack, Fox decided to direct a vast majority of their marketing campaign towards the digital market front. Their viral video campaign was well received by fans including myself, but did it do the job?

The Escalation of Content Quality

Digital marketing at its core is pretty simple, it’s the execution where things get complicated. Agencies like ours exist to help drive traffic (consumers) towards your business in order to produce more sales. There are a million different ways to accomplish that task. What differentiates a great agency from an average one is being able to identify which method is best for that product/service and then executing it.  

There are some pretty standard ways of doing so. Blogging, social media posts, and email marketing are some of the tried and true methods of content marketing that companies have hung their hats on for years. They are simple and effective, but boring. In a time when content quality continues to become better and better, it is necessary for the industry to start upping their game. Standard practices just aren’t going to be enough to drive sales anymore.

Independence Day: Resurgence

Nowhere is this more relevant than in the movie industry. As the quality and ease of home entertainment continues to rise, fewer and fewer people are loading the kids in the car and spending $100 or more on a night out. As a result, studios are beginning to invest heavily in their digital marketing tactics.

And I have to applaud the effort. Independence Day: Resurgence, the sequel we all wanted (did we?), featured one of the most unique digital marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen. Outside of your standard issue trailer releases, they filmed and produced some excellent video shorts that added depth to the film far greater than any trailer could on it’s own. They also created  PSA style videos that are a fantastic example of a marketing campaign designed to stand out in an such an oversaturated industry. Instead of coming up with some boring campaign that stuck to the basics, they doubled down on the world they created. Making each piece of content something you wanted to watch. You were still being marketed to, but it didn’t feel like it. And that is the key. 

I can honestly say that this tactic created for more interest in the film for me, but I’m a marketer. I enjoy seeing a great marketing strategy in action. The real question is did it resonate with the general public? 

So Did it Work?

Well……no. Despite projecting opening weekend box office sales in the $50 million range, Independence Day: Resurgence maxed out at $41 million (domestically), well below what Fox was hoping for. It was a valiant effort, but even the most ambitious content marketing strategy could not convince audiences to go. 

So why would I go to such lengths to talk about a long (and expensive) marketing campaign that didn’t work? To point out one very important lesson.

 No matter how amazing your content marketing strategy is, it can’t sell a product consumers don’t want.

The key to any successful business is offering a product or service that people are willing to pay you for (duh). Sometimes consumers can be a hard sell (that’s where we come in) but in the end if you are serving an essential need you can find a market for your product. If on the other hand your product or service is something consumers do not find valuable, even the best marketing strategy on the planet will not be able to convince them otherwise. The effectiveness of your content marketing strategy will always be limited to the quality and demand of your product or service. 

What do you think? Did you see Independence Day: Resurgence? What other creative content marketing campaigns have resonated with you? Leave a comment below and let’s get the conversation started.