Film Marketing Summit 2012

With an online marketing campaign that sported raunchy tweets from its stuffed bear star such as, “Do I get to have sex with the chick from ‘Brave’ now?,” moviegoers knew that “Ted” was an R-rated comedy with an attitude. The pic, aided by its irreverent online marketing campaign, recently hit $470 million in global box office, a record for a non-sequel comedy with an R rating, passing “The Hangover.”

The digital marketing behind “Ted” and “Pitch Perfect” are the subjects of a panel with “Ted” co-screenwriters Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, along with Doug Neil, senior vice president-digital marketing at Universal Pictures, at the Film Marketing Summit: Presented by Variety in association with Stradella Road.

But simply being outrageous offered no certainty of getting attention in the vastness of cyberspace. So Universal Pictures launched “Ted” by targeting the fans of filmmaker Seth MacFarlane, who voices the scatologically gifted bear character. A 90-second onscreen message from MacFarlane and a relatively benign TV commercial ran in April on his “Family Guy” series via Fox Broadcasting, directing viewers to a bawdier “Ted” red-band trailer on the Funny or Die website.

The trailer sparked an online buzz that fed other parts of “Ted’s” marketing campaign including the salty @WhatTedSaid feeds on Twitter. The movie’s Facebook page contains an element dubbed My Wild Night With Ted that allowed users to place a photo of the stuffed bear character in their own personal picture posts. “It was a great way to socialize the Ted character and bring him into your life,” says Neil.

“We hired the co-screenwriters to write the Twitter feeds and also bless the posts for the Facebook page,” says Michael Moses, co-president of marketing at Universal Pictures. “If they said something for Facebook was off, we adjusted it.”

The movie’s Facebook page amassed 5.9 million “likes” and WhatTedSaid pulled 550,000 Twitter followers — which is impressive given that every theatrical campaign has only months to reach critical mass for a premiere date. A free iPhone app generated over 9 million downloads, which is a record for a Universal Pictures app.

Three weeks prior to “Ted’s” June 29 theatrical premiere, Universal mounted more than 200 screenings aimed at fans of MacFarlane’s humor, figuring the movie itself would prompt another favorable buzz wave.

Some might argue that “Ted” was a rare film where marketing online proved more important than traditional media, though the “Family Guy” TV placement in what is traditional media actually ignited the online buzz.

“Success is multi-determinant from a lot of things coming together,” cautions Josh Goldstine, Universal Pictures president of marketing. “Certainly, the digital campaign was a wonderful accelerant for the overall marketing strategy.”

Summit Highlights

9:30-10:15 a.m. Opportunities in Emerging Markets. BRIC market expansion with a focus on China addresses moviegoing opportunity in developing countries.

10:15-11 a.m. Universal Pictures Case Studies: “Ted” & “Pitch Perfect”

11-11:45 a.m. Conversation with director-writer-producer Eli Roth

12:15-1 p.m. Disrupting from Within: Theatrical Marketing with Social Data. Conversation on marketing insights developed by the use of social data on campaigns and a case study example from the film “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.”

2-3 p.m. State of Film Distribution. Success in the theatrical exhibition is the driver for all ancillary windows. In the past decade, studios and the exhibition community have experienced high levels of innovation with premium formats, 3D and soon with high frame rate while digital cinema adoption allows exhibitor flexibility to accelerate global movie attendance. Key speakers address the big picture.

3-4 p.m. State of Film Marketing. Top studio marketing chiefs talk about what it means to execute a successful theatrical marketing campaign today.

4:15-5 p.m. Behind Every Blockbuster Is a Good Social Marketer. Movie marketers who make difference are in the trenches with their community. Meet the soldiers on the front lines that are changing the way films open from the next blockbuster to the edgy indie.

5-5:45 p.m. Global Partnership. Campaign integration requires a script to screen planning process with global activations by brands. Leading studios and partners detail the anatomy of a campaign.

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