Sony Pictures is focusing marketing efforts for its upcoming summer releases on global social media influencers in addition to traditional journalists.
In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for big picture studios to invite journalists on special trips to promote upcoming releases. Movie executives and stars would spend time with journalists from major publications and tell them about new movies and show them the studios and sets. However, in today’s multichannel world, bloggers and social media stars can have more influence than traditional media outlets and this summer Sony focused on this group instead of conventional journalists.
The idea behind focusing on social media stars instead of traditional journalists is to try and reach millennials fans and the increasingly active global communities using social media networks.
Aaron Wahle, senior vice president of international digital marketing for Sony Pictures, explained the strategy to Media Post’s Marketing Daily, “Engaging with this new generation of influencers who have a huge audience from the hard-to-reach Millennials is critical for us in marketing our blockbusters moving forward,” he says.
In June, Sony Pictures Entertainment invited 15 international social media influencers to spend a week in Singapore that included promotions and events in support of its big summer releases, Ghostbusters, The Magnificent Seven, and Inferno. The company had particular, custom Snapchat geofilters created for the week, held a major scavenger hunt throughout the city, and hosted a world-record- setting red carpet event.
The influencers came from Singapore, India, Taiwan, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands, with the U.S. notably absent from this particular marketing campaign. The movies have been heavily promoted in the U.S. market in other campaigns. As Wahle told Mashable, for the international push, getting the support of these kinds of influencers, “has never been more important.”
The series of events was designed to generate social media buzz for the films. While in the past the company might have poured more money into TV commercials or ads in major publications, this year they are focusing more on social media to try and connect with fans who are spending more and more time on these platforms.
“Our goal is to work together with these influencers to create genuinely great content for all their followers,” Wahle said. “Instead of promotions, which feel and look like adverts, our campaigns make everyone feel like they’re a part of it, whether you’re browsing through content on Instagram or a total fanboy or girl of the influencer and is viewing their content as a fan.”
The company organized a meet and greeted with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Paul Feig, Melissa McCarthy, and others. This created ample reason for social influencers to post pictures about their meetings and the movies.
Events were visual and entertaining and included elaborate artwork and props or rides. Snapchat filters were well designed and exclusive, ensuring the influencers would post them.
All this added up to a social media frenzy. Influencers were influenced by Sony and used it to shape their followers. From videos on YouTube to Snap Stories and Instagram and Facebook posts, the invited group created a slew of perfect marketing content for the movies. And the process feels organic to consumers even if it is the result of a highly orchestrated marketing push.