New Marketing Strategy for an Underdog Industry

In many ways, the movie “It Follows” should have failed: It was an indie horror film made by an unknown director, released with a weak advertising budget to only 4 theaters its 1st week by Bob and Harvey Weinstein’s boutique film label Radius-TWC, and scheduled to be released to VOD (Video on Demand) beginning week 2 – often a tell-tale sign that the movie is not expected to do well in theaters (League, 2015). Although Radius-TWC set the initial sales threshold at only $2 million, the movie brought in more than $55 thousand per theater its first week and more than $14 million through May 21, 2015 (Box Office Mojo, 2015; League, 2015). These numbers may not seem like much when compared to, say, a blockbuster hit, but they are a mark of success for the Indie film industry – an industry that all too often takes a backseat to their mainstream counterparts.

The film’s success, of course, was not earned purely by accident. After posting impressive week 1 figures, Radius-TWC made the rare strategic decision to widen the film’s theatrical release and postpone the VOD release, much to the chagrin of VOD providers (League, 2015). Radius-TWC effectively challenged long-held notions that indie films are not commercially viable, and it offered indie distributors new strategies for marketing based on actual performance rather than just projected performance.

Distributors have no choice but to build marketing strategies around projected data if the film has not yet been released because no performance data yet exists. But even the best marketing strategy loses effect if it no longer aligns to the data it was created for. So why not be flexible enough to re-strategize later based on actual performance, especially if doing so is likely to yield more favorable results?

“It Follows” certainly earned its reputation on its own, but its success in theaters was the result of a dynamic, adaptable strategy. Indie distributors would be wise to take a page from Radius-TWC’s book.

Box Office Mojo. (2015). It Follows [data set]. Retrieved from:

League, T. (2015, April 1). Tim League: It Follows is not a flop. Birth. Death. Movies. Retrieved from:

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5 Responses to New Marketing Strategy for an Underdog Industry

  1. Brittani says:

    In all that we do, results are important. Therefore, why would we implement a campaign then leave it to fend for itself, hoping that it works out for the best? Project managers need to be involved every step of the way, monitoring the progress so the results can be optimized. The marketing strategy of “It Follows” is a perfect example showing the vital importance of evaluation of any and all campaign implementations. It crucial for campaigns to boast the capability for flexibility. If this campaign wasn’t designed to be flexible from the beginning, then overseers wouldn’t have been able to make adjustments as the results came in. It seems like there should always be a plan a, b, and c for cases when you are working of projected data especially.

  2. Alexis says:

    This brings up an interesting point that data is not something to be scared of by marketers. If a campaign rolls out and the plan is to simply “check numbers” after the fact and make strategic adjustments for the next go around, the potential to miss profitable opportunities is high. The film industry is a great example of how quickly projected results can change, and the marketing team needs to be ready on a dime to make strategic adjustments to capitalize on where the needle lies. For other brands that don’t have such visible and public results on launches it would be wise based on this great example to stay fully engaged in the campaign and how consumers are behaving. Social media is a driver in shifting marketing campaigns, and for things such as Indie movies, WOM (word of mouth marketing) can play a huge roll in taking a small project and making it a game changer.
    Alexis Santoro

  3. Samantha says:

    This is a prime example of how important data really is in the entertainment industry, and particularly for unknown indie artists, whether they are filmmakers, musicians, etc. This could have easily remained an unknown film had it not been for the strategy mentioned in the post. The fact that the producers of this movie researched data beforehand and really gave some good thought to how they were going to gain a following made the difference between having a large audience and having none at all. Keeping track of their progress and adjusting their strategy to adapt with the changes that occur in the entertainment industry could also play a huge part in determining how successful a campaign is. – Samantha M. Lawrence

  4. Ryan says:

    It’s interesting how this works from studios on the other end as well. Most recently, Disney’s “Tomorrowland” was hyped so much as the next big “Pirates of the Caribbean” level tentpole for the Mouse, but the movie ended up bombing. This, despite massive marketing push from Disney that began over a year ago.

    There is power in a well made film. Even the best marketing in the world cannot fix something that was broken before it was put into the advertiser’s hands.

  5. Jessica says:

    This is a great topic to discuss, an organizations ability to change, to be pro-active rather than reactive. Radius-TWC obviously took a risk to release in more theaters and delay the VOD release but it was a strategic calculated risk proving that they were in tune to their results and didn’t leave it to chance. Although this particular instance for Radius was reactive I’m sure the next release they will have learned to be pro-active and ready for the results to change their strategy. Also this points out the need for companies to have strategies that are two-sided, tactics for the best and planned for the worst.

    Great example of flexibility