Marketers missing out on movie mania as brands stick to tried and tested sport formula

215px-HungerGamesPosterBrands are missing out on lucrative opportunities to market their products with big movie franchises because they believe it would be too hard and too expensive, according to industry experts.

A panel discussion on the ‘rise of the movie franchise’ heard how marketers remain focused on sport and music events but are failing to realise the benefits from marketing partnerships with blockbuster movies.

Andrew Condon, director and head of marketing at sport and entertainment consultancy Gemba, said the movie advertising market was “fighting below its weight”.

The panel, which included Village Cinema’s general sales and marketing boss Mohit Bhargava, Twentieth Century Fox head of promotions Kate Nicholls and Frucor Beverages marketing manager Craig Harkness, told an audience at Sydney’s Event Cinemas that barriers persist with marketers too often uncertain or unsure how to get involved with movies.

Condon said it was clear movies are a major “passion point”, highlighting research that found 55 per cent of Australians are fanatical about movies, with only 26 per cent saying they are passionate about the country’s most popular sport, cricket.

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Actor Hugh Jackman, meanwhile, far outstrips AFL player Gary Ablett in terms of individual brand power, he said.

“In a fragmented entertainment and sport market, movies may be the most misunderstood and under-represented marketing asset of them all,” Condon said. “As marketers we need to reappraise how we think about movie marketing, we need to plan it as a major event…and respect and fuel the passion of fans in the same way we do sport.

“It is fighting well below its weight in terms of its relevance to a broad range of Australians. People just don’t know how it works and have a perception is that it’s just too hard and unfamiliar.”

In contrast to sport, Condon said the movie industry was “clutter free” as he urged brands to exploit the “fandom” around franchises including The Hunger Games and and the Marvel movies.

Responding to questions from Mumbrella over why marketers have not woken up to the opportunities around films, Village Cinema’s Bhargava said it falls into the “too hard basket”.

“It is far from a mature category,” he said. “I’ll be candid, we are living in Australia and movies largely are produced in another market….so there is a degree of unknown and a degree of  ‘these movie brands are big brands and there is big processes in play’.”



Harkness, who intergreted Frucor’s V Energy drink with the X-Men movies, said the rise of the movie franchises is relatively new while sports marketing has been around for years.

He described franchises as “predictable”, meaning brands can plan a strategy knowing there will be longevity to any partnership and safe in the knowledge it is likely to go well at the box office.

“We have had conversations in the past about other movies which have been more of an unknown and that are more risky,” he said. “But the franchise model that has grown massively in the last 10 years makes it much more of a bankable option for a brand.

“Sport has always been there, the AFL final has always been there, so that is one of the reason movies are punching below their weight.”

Turning to the cost issue, Condon suggested marketers assume it would be too expensive. But often film studios do not charge licence fees for brands to work with movie stars.

“It is easier than brands often think,” he said.

Product placement in movies is among the potential marketing ploys available to brands, with the panel giving the example of Sony with James Bond and Harley Davidson with Captain America.

Gemba executive creative director Boyd Hicklin said some directors are unwilling to push a particular product, highlighting the Bond movies as an example.

“The directors are not wanting to push a particular product, they want Sony to develop a product hi-tech enough and appropriate for James Bond to be using,” he said. “So there is a collaboration between the film makers and phone makers to develop a suitable product. That is where you will probably end up with the ultimate product placement.”

harley davidson captain americaIntegrating Harley Davidson with Captain America was “easier for a director to swallow”, Hicklin added, as the superhero was switching from his “traditional beaten up motorbike onto something so high tech and slick that the audience can jump along with it”.

Kate Nicholls, head of promotions at Twentieth Century Fox, gave the example of Lynx associating its brand in a cost effective way with Kingsman, the Colin Firth movie released earlier this year.

“We needed to do an extensive word of mouth screening program so we went to Lynx who have spent a lot of time and money rebranding their product to be cooler and slicker and moving away from sexualised positioning,” she said.

“We asked Lynx to check out the movie and it was spot on for them. So they reached out to their influencers, and we put on Gold Class pre-screenings. It ticked their boxes in reaching influencers and repositioning their brand and it was a great way for us to do a word of mouth screening program without having to recruit those audiences.

“It shows that huge amounts of money don’t need to change hands.”

Steve Jones


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