Speaking of film marketing, what do you think of? Posters, billboards, trailers or website? Tim Palen, the Lionsgate’ marketing chief does not thinks in that way. He goes beyond traditional film marketing campaign, bringing the universe to life in an elaborately detailed campaign for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”.
Fashion Magazine Capitol Couture: Bring Panem to life and Alternative way of product placement
During the year-long campaign that launched last November, Palen created an online fashion magazine, Capitol Couture, modeled after luxury publications like DuJour, Gotham and Ocean Drive, built around the ultra-rich and style-obsessed capitol city of Panem, the fictional nation in the bestselling author’s trilogy of young adult novels. Reading Capitol Couture, people would feel like that they were living in the city of Panem.
Collins, the writer of The Hunger Games was also excited of this brave idea, “It’s appropriately disturbing and thought-provoking how the campaign promotes ‘Catching Fire’ while simultaneously promoting the Capitol’s punitive forms of entertainment. The stunning image of Katniss in her wedding dress that we use to sell tickets is just the kind of thing the Capitol would use to rev up its audience for the Quarter Quell (the name of the games in “Catching Fire”). That dualistic approach is very much in keeping with the books.”
Apart from bring the fictional nation to reality, generating the context of the new movie; Capitol Couture was also a perfect platform for product placement. Overt product placement or sponsorships were annoying and would turn off fans, no matter how subtle they were. However, products in Capitol Couture were ambient ads, relating to the film but not violate its own territory. It provides a place for promotional partner Cover Girl to tout its products and tie in with the film. Fashion e-tailer Neta-Porter and nail polish brand China Glaze are other beauty partners tying in via Capitol Couture.
Capitol Portraits: turning posters release into events
In March, Palen and his team used Capitol Couture to create a series of so-called Capitol Portraits — dramatic photographic images that revealed the look of the sequel’s 11 major characters who play significant roles in laying the groundwork for the final rebellion in the third and fourth films.
Other studios release such photos as character posters, but Palen does not want to do something so mundane, and at the same time carefully control the story he was trying to tell — while also having some fun. Lionsgate turned the release of each portrait into an event, sending images as exclusives to a variety of online partners like MTV, IGN, Yahoo Movies, Empire, MSN and the Huffington Post, and through the fake magazine’s Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook feeds. The shots were first teased with empty chairs on Instagram, which generated considerable buzz on their own, and helped four different characters trend on Twitter in the week their portraits were released.
Film marketing in today’s society, while less people go to cinema compared with 50 years ago, is so important that it sometimes determines the life or death of a film. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” provided a good example of using digital media to bring the imaginary nation to life, blurring the line between fantasy and reality, as well as merging the commercial product into the culture of the film. It also turned every ordinary advertisement into event, generating more buzz around the film. Therefore, as Palen suggested, this film might attract not only teens and tweens, but also Hispanics, African-Americans, fashionistas, even seniors.
However, people may question the idea of “audience creation” by advertisements. Even though sometimes advertisement becomes more and more important, for many people the content is still the priority. No matter how successful the campaign is, people who are not interested in the theme of the film will not go to cinema.
Which is your favorite movie marketing campaign? Do you think film marketing is more important than the content of the film? Have you ever been attracted to the cinema because of its marketing campaign?