Transmedia marketing, in which a story is told across a variety of platforms that can include film, television, the Internet, live events and social media, among others, is being used more widely, particularly in the entertainment industry. It’s one more way that content marketing, which is a primary driver in search engine optimization, is being leveraged not only to get better SEO, but to drive search queries in the first place.
I wrote recently about how the team from Bravo’s “Top Chef” franchise used transmedia to increase viewership and improve audience engagement. A more recent example is Ridley Scott’s new film “Prometheus,” which is generating a lot of advance buzz -- the film’s trailer, which debuted at Wondercon in Anaheim recently, generated more than 3 million views in the first 48 hours of its release.
The filmmaker and his distributor, 20th Century Fox, are going beyond the traditional trailer and other movie-hyping mechanisms by embracing a transmedia approach to marketing the film. For instance, they’ve leveraged the uber-cool TED conference and the power of social networks in a really clever way. At this year’s TED conference, Scott and team were present for a “talk” by entrepreneur Peter Weyland, who spoke to the challenges society faces with the increasing advance of life-controlling technology (think a Siri-cum-Hal type of thing).
Weyland’s talk was an instant hit in a conference full of them. Here’s the catch: Weyland is, in fact, a character from “Prometheus,” played by the actor Guy Pearce, speaking from the year 2023. The video of the “talk” has been a viral sensation.
But that wasn’t all. Folks who were at the Wondercon event received Weyland Industries “business cards,” which drive folks to a YouTube video, “Big Things Have Small Beginnings,” but also to the “corporate” website, www.weylandindustries.com. Finally, Fox is also promoting the film’s official website and the Prometheus Forum.
All this marketing content, including video, photos, user-generated content, microsites and stuff printed on old-fashion dead trees (not to mention the performance art that was the TED presentation) is making the rounds well before the actual film is due to open in a few months – and generating huge buzz, driving search queries, audience engagement, social sharing and media coverage. Buzz is the oxygen Hollywood relies on to hit its numbers; opening weekend is crucial to establishing a new film as a hit, and buzz helps to ensure big openers.
Once upon a time, advertisers relied on mainstream media producers to provide the content around which ads units were purchased to promote something. Nowadays, the brand is both the media producer and the advertiser in one. Integrated marketing strategies, moreover, drive search queries, while excellent content ensures great page rank. One hand washes the other.
Increasingly, marketing organizations must not only be great promotional machines, they must also be primary producers of branded content (some even call it brand journalism) to tell stories in which the brand is a player. Capture the audience’s imagination in ways that avoids overtly hawking your products, and they’ll reward you with the sorts of engagement the media titans are achieving so masterfully.