You may have heard reports of the extortionate amounts of money #SonyPictures has opted to spend on the promotion of Spider-Man: Homecoming - the first true collaborative effort with #MarvelStudios. With a reported $140 million being blown on the promotion of this film, #Sony is betting that this latest incarnation of the web-slinger will bring in the big bucks.
Much of the promotional campaign has been spent to market the film in the usual manner, through short TV spots and trailers airing during prime time or during ad breaks for big television events. However, the campaign extends far beyond this; something that Sony's Partnerships Group Chief Jeffrey Godstick hoped to make clear:
"We have been evolving our promotional campaigns to go way beyond the 30 second spot. With longer form pieces of content, digital games and activation, and publicity stunts and events, the Spider-Man: Homecoming program best reflects this evolution."
Homecoming does most definitely shows this off ,with Goldstick and team clearly being hard at work making partnerships with over 30 separate brands for this one film. That is, a lot, even for a superhero film. And it's not like these partnerships are all in the same area either, oh no, they stretch across just about every industry you can think of.
With 30 different brands partnering with Sony to market this film, this is certainly the area in which Sony has spent most of that $140 million. Some of the biggest partnerships of the marketing push have included:
- Compare the Market
- NBA Finals
- Pizza Hut
- General Mills
- Dunkin' Donuts
From food to computers to cars, Sony has got Spider-Man covered on all fronts globally with even more companies outside the United States and the United Kingdom getting in on the friendly neighborhood action.
What this all means is that the film gains exposure in more areas, reaching new demographics. If they somehow miss out on all the TV spots and trailers then they'll see it at the donut shop or when they go to get a pizza. Or perhaps, you're in the market for a new phone or computer and well, there he is again. What Sony has done is make it so many big companies have a stake in the character and the film which means they can use the character to market their product and, at the same time, Sony's film too.
This sort of behaviour happens more and more these days, and with Marvel having partnered with Audi for almost all of their films that was hardly a surprise. The hope behind this method of marketing is that if you see the character enough you'll subconsciously get more and more intrigued in the film and this could result in people who wouldn't usually go to the theatres to watch this superhero flick.
Teaming with these incredible worldwide partners, it signals to the world that Spider-Man: Homecoming is more than a movie: it's a global cultural event.
- Sony President of Worldwide Marketing, Josh Greenstein
Greenstein does have a point. At the heart of the strategy is the desire to show that this is more than a movie, and if you haven't seen it you'll be missing out on what everyone's talking about.
Long Form Content
So aside from these extensive partnerships, what else is Sony doing to push the #Marvel made film? Well, the answer comes back to what Godstick had said:
We have been evolving our promotional campaigns to go way beyond the 30 second spot.
Aside from the short cut trailers you see for the film that last for 30 seconds, they also aim to produce and show longer videos that last for something like two to three minutes. Often times, this is produced thanks to a tie-in made with one of the film's many partners. For example, one of the biggest partners Audi co-produced and published a short, two and a half minute video entitled "Driver's Test." Its aim is of course to market both the film and their (Audi's) cars. The reason this is important is that it's more likely to go viral than that of a TV Spot. It makes more out of the ad as it brings an element of story and context to the scene. It will usually focus around one point that involves the film's characters and the company's products. This way they sell both the film and the product.
To put it simply, even if they are just a glorified ad, long form content is more engaging and because of this viewers are both more likely to watch it if they see it on social media, and engage with the video as it provides a more comprehensive 'taste' of the film. This long form method of advertising holds the attention and this ultimately causes people to be more likely to notice the film and more likely to be interested in going out and paying to watch it.
It's not just Audi that has done this, many of the partners have made a long form video for fans to watch with possibly the most prominent being the videos made around the NBA Finals. This was a collection of shorts all centred around the central point of Peter Parker going to watch the NBA Finals with Mr. Stark.
Social Media Push
It's now common for films and franchises to have their own social media accounts and Spider-Man: Homecoming is no exception. What makes it different to other film's social media accounts is what it posts and when.
Anyone who follows the Spider-Man: Homecoming accounts on Twitter or Instagram will likely be aware that they post a lot. In fact, just in the last 24 hours they've tweeted and re-tweeted up to 5 individual messages.
It's not just the fact that they post a lot that makes their social media strategy important, it's what they post. They share a variety of different things often including images (which analytics have proven to make a post more popular) and videos. Short gifs of Spider-Man have been posted, which appeals to a younger generation. They also post short trailer-like videos ranging in length from 5-30 seconds. One thing all of these videos have in common is the way they've been specifically optimized for social platforms. Videos posted are always in a square aspect ratio and they will often have large, stylized subtitles so that you are more likely to watch the video if you don't have to turn up the volume in the middle of the office or under the desk in class.
Like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Martian and Deadpool, Sony has decided to give the film a companion app. The app, simply entitled 'Spider-Man' is available to download on iOS and Google Play and is designed mostly for fans. The app comes equipped with custom filters, AR (augmented reality) and a virtual Peter Parker's Phone. Even though the app is made for fans it still helps to sell the film with a countdown to release and a link to where you can buy tickets. Also, the filters are intended for people to share photos on social media to all of their followers thereby creating free promotion for the film.
One thing that is relatively new in this industry is the use of VR (virtual reality). The 'Spider-Man: Homecoming VR Experience" was released on PSVR and allowed players to become Spider-Man. All of this just brings fans into the world and encourages them to buy tickets. Also, as an added bonus, due to VR being in its relative infancy there are few games available and due to it being free people will likely try it out because "what's to loose?"
Is It Worth It?
Leading up to Spider-Man: Homecoming's release, box office predictions were looking at roughly $100 million in the first weekend. This would give it a sizeable opening but not quite what Sony would be hoping for. When box office was released for the film's opening there was some surprise when it surpassed almost all expectations. Box office for the first three days was $117 million in the US alone. The film also performed well outside the US with it grossing almost $140 million in the first weekend. So, all in all Sony's huge promotional campaign seemed to pay off. With fans flocking to the cinemas all seems to be going well for the film and with reviews coming soon after the good news continued. With a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%, it's one of the best praised superhero films ever made and for many it ousts Spider-Man 2 as the best Spider-Man film as well.