Welcome to Moviepilot's Marketing Spotlight, our weekly look at which marketing campaigns are doing it right. In the world of entertainment, the marketing of a movie or TV series can be as important as the production itself. A good promo campaign can mean the difference between a hit and a flop, but a putting together a smart campaign is harder than it looks.
Here are the great pieces of marketing from this past week, March 20-26.
Natural Born Pranksters (Lionsgate)
This is a relatively quiet week on the new movie release front, seeing as how everything is staying out of the way of [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870). No real wide releases of note, so I'm focusing instead on the marketing campaign for a limited release film that has been no less noteworthy: Lionsgate's Natural Born Pranksters.
The movie is the brainchild of three YouTube stars coming together for one project: Vitaly Zdorovetskiy, better known by his YouTube name, VitalyzdTV, Roman Atwood, and Dennis Roady. All three are known for their prank channels on YouTube, and they've joined forces to turn their pranks and stunts into a feature-length. Think Jackass, but with less self-harm.
The difference is, Jackass never had 25 million subscribers between them, as do the Natural Born Pranksters. The numbers are astounding. Consider Atwood's signature ball pit prank, which has been showcased heavily in the first trailer: The original prank video was one of most-watched YouTube videos of last year and currently sits at almost 70 million views.
Naturally, Lionsgate has harnessed the power of those numbers for the marketing campaign, which started much earlier than most people realize. Some of you may remember the video of the man rushing the field at the Men's World Cup Finals that went viral back in 2014 - that was Zdorovetskiy, with the "Natural Born Pranksters" title written on his chest.
The marketing campaign is relying on the strength of their combined built-in audience, and also that of other YouTube stars, such as Jenna Marbles and Furious Pete, among others, who are also appearing in the movie. It's a smart move. Millennials are fully plugged into the concept of alternative content creation: Their most-watched videos don't necessarily come from a studio or network station, but from the YouTube and Vine and Snapchat stars they follow on a weekly, and even daily basis. Every video the three release, along with the YouTube stars making cameos, could be seen as an advertisement for the movie in and of itself.
The advertising generated organically through their YouTube channels has been supplemented with the trio's tour through a handful of cities for live screenings leading up to the film's release. It's a bit of live interaction with fans that naturally lends itself to positive word-of-mouth buzz: Fans of the YouTube stars tend to be active on social media, themselves, and will spread the word about the film to their own followers, and a social media ripple effect is - hopefully - achieved.
Whether or not this will translate into success for the film remains to be seen, but a partnership with Lionsgate's typically creative marketing campaigns and the star power of the pranksters feels like a marketing match made in Heaven.
Natural Born Pranksters is in theaters and digital HD, VOD, and DVD on - what else? - Friday, April 1st.