In order for a film to be successful, it must; as well as follow a good narrative and have a wide range of a-list actors; market and promote itself using a wide range of techniques. However, in order for all of this to occur, the film company must think of their main aim of all of the promotional material carried out, and there must be a campaign objective carried out during the pre-production stages. An example of a campaign objective from a block buster is the film “The Woman in Black”. Their main aim was to engage fans of the book and the play; whilst also selling the spooks, scares and quality of the film. The distributors of this film also aimed at targeting a broad audience through it use of advertising, publicity and promotions (promotional campaigns).
The most common type of marketing used to sponsor a film is vertical integration and synergy. Vertical integration companies in a supply chain are united through a common owner (conglomerate), or in other words, a company which owns large numbers of companies in various mass media, such as: television, radio, publishing, movies and the internet. According to the 2012 Fortune 500 list, The Walt Disney Company is America’s largest media conglomerate in terms of revenue, with News Corporation, Time Warner, Viacom and CBS Corporation, completing the top 5. Usually each member of the supply chain produces a different product or (market-specific) service, and the products combine to satisfy a common need (to make profit). Walt Disney has recently announced that it is buying Pixar, the animate studio led by Apple head, Steve Jobs, in a deal worth $7.4 billion. Jobs came to the conclusion that made the most sense for Pixar to align itself with Disney permanently instead of trying to distribute films on its own or sign with another movie studio partner. Disney and Apple have already announced several online programming deals during the past few months. Disney now has agreements in place to sell hit ABC prime time shows, such as: “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost”, as well as content from ABC Sports and ESPN on Apple’s popular iTunes music and video store. As well as there being a few concerns about the connection of Disney and Pixar, due to the strained relationship between Jobs and former CEO Michael Eisner; there are some noticeably strengths of this major collaboration. The key benefits both Disney and Pixar will gain from being part of a vertical integration company are that the range of innovation is broadened, enabling more successful and creative films to be produced. Nevertheless, it also creates more businesses to be made, resulting in more employment. Also, because of the share of resources, it means the budget is balanced, meaning shared money, so the companies are at less risk if the film doesn’t manage to make at least three times its budget.
In addition to Disney and Pixar’s collaboration, Walt Disney Co also agreed to buy Marvel Entertainment Inc. for $4 billion. Disney adds Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk and Thor to its roster of lovable and fantasy-like characters, like: Mickey Mouse and Cinderella; and will feature the comic book heroes in movies before rolling out associated theme park rides, TV shows and merchandise. David Joyce, an analyst with Miller Tabak & Co, has commented saying how this combination “helps give Disney more important exposure to the young male demographic that they have lost some ground with in the recent years.” Disney will also be able to use its marketing and entertainment strength – stretching from ABC to cable television to theme parks – to promote and build characters, such as: Thor, in ways Marvel never could. The deal is Disney’s largest since the $7.6 billion purchase of Pixar in 2006. Like with Disney and Pixar, the combination of Disney and Marvel has caused some stir, however there are some obvious benefits both companies will gain from being part of a vertical integration company, for example: Marvel will take knowledge from Disney by their use of marketing and entertainment; and Disney can also publicise Marvel, by using techniques which will attract larger demographics. They can also dominate the global animation market as there would be less competition, and it would create a universal audience, resulting in more money/profit.
Disney is now the largest animation studio in the world – they now own Marvel and Pixar. However, Disney have creatively linked and produced many different media platforms, for example: Motion Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, Disney Music Group, Disney Theatrical Group, Disney Studio Service, Studio Production Services, Studio Post Production, Disney – ABC Television Group, ABC Family and ABC Entertainment. A company like Disney can promote its films though the different media platforms and companies they own. For example: Disney can attract specific demographics through the different media platforms (ABC Family – can attract families, like adults and children); this creates almost a global recognition, and creates almost a synchronous viral campaign, as they are promoting their film to audiences around the world, all at the same time, creating a buzz. Films do not necessarily need to be promoted during shows or programmes. Advertisements which appear between shows can also encourage audiences as it is an easy, yet effective way of grabbing the audience’s attention and interest.
The most common form of marketing used by film companies is the use of synergy. Although, synergy is used widely, it is a form of promotion audiences tend to ignore or overlook. Synergy basically means working together to achieve an objective that couldn’t be achieved independently. Disney is an obvious example of a synergetic company from the top down from Film Studio to Kids’ TV Channels to the Disney Store’ where kids can buy all the merchandise and DVDs/CDs they’ve seen on the TV/Web or in the cinema. Synergy can also be described as the ‘strategy of synchronising and actively forgiving connections between directly related areas of entertainment’. Synergy is the use of similar branding across a range of platforms – where a symbol, colour, or sound allows for a synchronised promotional campaign (a unified brand) – this maximises audience awareness, (360 campaigns is used to ensure you get information about the product from every angle possible – using every media platform of how people consume and distribute films).
Cross media convergence is also used by higher concept film industries as it involves two media companies collaborating for the purpose of generating profits (synergy). An example of this is 20th Century Fox working with MySpace, to create a viral marketing campaign. On the other hand, Revolver Entertainment is an independent film, and so does not have these links with multi-media conglomerate, and so cannot compete with major films to the same scale.
Symbiosis (which is another form of synergy), is also used by linking up various companies to make profits from one product. This is when different (including non-media) companies, work together to promote a range of related products, e.g. High School Musical, the film will enable spin-offs, like Happy Meals, Easter Eggs, toy characters, etc. – and the distributor will agree licensing deals for companies to make and sell this merchandising. A percentage of the profit will then go back to the distributor. Walt Disney pioneered symbiosis marketing techniques in the 1930s by granting dozens of firms the right to use their Mickey Mouse character in products and ads, and continued to market Disney media through licensing arrangements – this meant that both companies benefitted from this. These products can help advertise the film itself and thus help to increase the film’s sales – synchronised marketing. For example: the Spider-Man films had toys of ‘web-shooters’ ad figures of the characters made, CD soundtracks and other merchandising which not only sold the products, but also promoted the film.
The Avengers is another example of a major film promoting its film using synergy, cross media convergence and symbiosis. The Avengers, unlike other major films, chose to release its film globally; this created a global trend and buzz on many major social networking sites and blogs. The unusual choice to release the movie in many major international markets before releasing it in the United States built a “global countdown” buzz for The Avengers – and also reduced piracy.
Disney put out chapter books on each character, familiarising kids with action-packed back-stories. An Avengers animated series took on some of the tone, humour and attitude of the films – whilst Marvel produced video games. This is known as trans-media storytelling (the coordinated extension of a cohesive story world, across multiple media platforms). One key and most noticeable USP of the film, The Avengers, is the wide range of superheroes featured in the film. Universal Pictures held the rights on Hulk, Paramount for Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, and now Disney had combined them altogether for The Avengers.
Official sites, such as: YouTube (which has approximately 200 million views daily), Twitter and Facebook pages (estimated to have around 1 billion users), have an online community as they are forms of social media, and so attract audiences from all over the world easily and for free. There are many benefits of using social media sites to promote a film, as it attracts larger and a range of demographics. It is also a form of portable marketing, as users are able to download and install apps on their mobile phones, allowing them to get immediate updates/constant alerts on new releases, competitions and awareness if sequels. Film companies also monitor these sites to know what their fans are saying. Disney/Marvel use social media to build up buzz for the audience by engaging the audience through competitions (e.g. The Woman in Black’s completion carried out to submit audience’s ‘ghost stories’) and online games – this allows audience participation. The Avengers also promoted their film through their official website – which has an immediate link to their Facebook and YouTube page (placed either on the top of the website or at the bottom for easy access). Fan blogs are also used as a form of critics for the audience, as it allows the audience to know whether the film really stand up to the high expectations set by the film industry. The Avengers site also includes: trailers for new releases, character profiles, film stills/behind the scenes/teasers, sign ups, DVDs and Blu Ray disks, competitions, as well as a link to the Disney Store.
Merchandising and franchising are fundamental in terms of making money as effective merchandising can enhance a brand’s exposure to the public and increase sales. The better the merchandising and franchising; the more recognition the film gets, and the more interested the audience are and aware of the film. Merchandising and franchising is important, because for many major films, the money made from official products is more than the money made from box office sales.
Marvel did deals (synergy/symbiosis) with other companies helping them market and promote the film. Companies Marvel combined with were: Norton, Acura, Hershey’s, Dr Pepper, VISA and KFC. The benefits of this are that not all of the partners are necessarily aimed at children, but also aimed at adults (e.g. VISA and Acura-car Company). These different companies were all then featured subtly in the film (product placement), which meant that the film got sponsors, whilst the companies were also featured in the film – resulting in a win-win situation. Product placement is included in most films which include a major partner/company, for example: Skyfall’s partnership with Aston Martin and the partnership between the Fast & Furious sequel and BMW. Whilst food chains, such as: Burger King, also did an offer where for every week you go, you receive a different toy; which meant that children continuously went there to purchase all the collectables, which allowed KFC with a big profit gained just from merchandise.
An example of where a non-media company as joined with a film to promote it, is the combination of Peugeot 5008 and Toy Story 3. The benefits of this combination are the idea of awareness, developing and branding of the film. Also, it interlinks with a scene from the film; nevertheless the idea of advertising and combining a family car with a family film, emphasises the connection between the two products. In addition, the competition shown at the end of the advert engages the audience to the product; whilst also saying how to enter they must visit the website, which gives the audience more information about the film and makes them more interested in the film because of the offers and deals.
Many major films include different forms of marketing and advertisement; however independent film companies, such as: Revolver, have been offered awards for various things. In the past 10 years, Revolver’s independent spirit and flair has been awarded with 18 of the industry’s top awards for marketing excellence. A key difference between Disney and Revolver’s assesses, is the idea that Revolver is active in reaching out to audiences – thinking outside the box. Compared to Disney’s promotional campaigns, Revolver is seen to have approximately 0ver 9 million YouTube trailer views and over 2.5 million music video trailer views.
Marketing and promotion can affect audience’s choices on exhibition. The Avengers were in cinemas worldwide. Whilst independent UK films, such as: Sket were shown in most independent cinemas in the UK. Cinemas get 50-60% of what the film makes. Cinema’s also make most of their money from drinks, popcorns and nachos. Cinemas tend to show The Avengers more than Sket at peak time and days, due to the content of the film. The Avengers also is targeted towards younger audiences because of the age category; and that the content of the film doesn’t involve extreme violence or provocative scenes – this means that the film is able to be shown during the watershed.
Digital technology has enabled different medias to converge together to promote and market a film. For instance, mobiles phones do a lot more than act as hand-held telephones; you can download and watch films and TV programmes, as well as use them for constant alerts on new releases and competitions. Media convergence is having an enormous impact on the film industry because of the ways in which institutions can produce and market for audiences on a widening range of platforms. To conclude, it’s one thing promoting a film using static methods, such as: posters, billboards and advertisements; however cross media convergence, synergy, vertical integration and symbiosis offer a whole ‘nother perspective and vessel to promotion; that’s why films such as The Woman in Black and The Avengers are considered as block buster’s due to the range of different marketing and promotional campaigns carried out by the film distributors.
What is the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production, distribution and marketing?
In this essay I am going to explore the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production, distribution and marketing and the effect it has on the film industry and the impact on audiences. The case studies that will be explored will be Avengers, Woman In Black, Sket and Toy Story 3.
Cross media convergence is an important aspect because its two media companies collaborating for the purpose of generating profit (synergy). This is important in production because when two media conglomerates come together and they are very well known it will make the audience want to watch the film more because it’s done by two media conglomerates and will therefore be successful ,This is called Vertical Integration Company. Walt Disney is a vertical integration company; they own Marvel, Pixar, MBC, ABC and Lucas Films. The impact it has on the film industry is that Disney and Pixar both got together and Disney became the proud owner of Pixar and Marvel. This helped the film industry because through production Disney and Marvel built a ‘global countdown’ buzz for avengers and this avoids piracy because everyone accesses the film at the same time so no country has seen it before anyone else. Disney put out chapter books on each Marvel character to familiarise the Disney fans with Marvels characters. The promoted the film through social networking sites and social networking sites has over a billion members. There were cable networks with the animations showing to build up the hype of ‘Avengers Assemble’. They decided to do aisle jamming figure toy lines where the toys came before the audience this built up a buzz before the film. They done a deal with Facebook and issued a Facebook game which has the Avengers characters on and that got the audience involved and made them want to play the game to get an insight into what the film will be like. Another way of production was Transmedia storytelling. The benefits of social media is that it’s a good way of cross media convergence because the internet is on the go so it’s a technological convergence also it engages the audience because there are competitions and it’s viral around the world. There are many different apps that the audience can download and there are over 1 billion Facebook users which is 1/7 of the world. The American government said that they would tweet news because it’s the fastest form of communication. YouTube plays a big part in the production of films because the average person watches 5-10 videos per day and there are 200 million videos per day being watched. Also on The Avengers website there are many different forms of entertainment to engage the audience with for example the introduction is engaging, the trailer comes on after the introduction then when you hover over each character a character bio comes up to explain the different characters and there is a button present to go onto their page. You can go deeper with Marvels experience and there is an ITunes Tab to download the soundtracks of the movie. Also they can do theme park rides, TV series and merchandise. There will be more exposure to young male audiences because of the hero films. It will rebrand Marvel and improve Marvel. It will promote Marvel characters-there are over 5000 characters so there can be over 5000 merchandise toys. Marvel has been from 1970s and 1980s so they are important years for comics. Marvel can target males so their children can pressure the family to go watch the film and can pressure their parents for the products and merchandise and these can be sold in Disney stores and Disney Land. Sequels can be made and it will push superheroes round the world so they will be known worldwide.
Disney and Pixar being part of a Vertical Integration Company is important because the key benefits are they can make sequels to previous hits. Pixar could help Disney increase revenue throughout business lines. There will be benefits in theme parks because of the consumer products. They can share resources to merge 2D (Disney) and 3D (Pixar) films together to get the best of both worlds. Pixar’s programme is created by scientists and it’s the only company that has it in the world because without science there are no animations. They can both improve the animations because if Disney is dying Pixar will enhance the animation.
They could also dominate the global animation market because Pixar enhances Disney’s animations. Pixar have not had a flop, so when they join up they will strengthen each other and improve animations. They will take over global animation markets. They will have the largest audience share as they all are coming together. They will have large merchandising deals and have an opened range. Families bring in the most money and it goes back to the childhoods of the adults (parents) and the children will want to see those films so money will be coming in because of family trips to the cinema together.
Synergy is also an important aspect of film making for example with Women In Black made by Momentum Pictures, they also made Kings Speech. They had done deals with Facebook and Twitter. This will impact the audience because Facebook and Twitter are the main social network sites. Social networking sites are important in the audiences lives because internet is on the go and there are over 1 billion users on Facebook and twitter and this will have an effect on the film industry because it will bring in viewers and having Daniel Radcliffe as the main character has brought Harry Potter fans to watch his movie as well just so they can see Daniel Radcliffe again. YouTube has done deals with Women In Black because Daniel Radcliffe done weekly blog updates and had the ‘fan of the week’ which involved the audience more to see if they got to be the ‘fan of the week’. There were online campaigns with Yahoo, Msn and many different newspaper websites that were promoting the film and making others want to watch it. This is an example of production and distribution, the effect on the audience is they are aware what is going to happen in the film and when it is going to be released and the effect on the film industry is they will receive more viewers because of the A-list star they have got in Women In Black and the popular actor that is Daniel Radcliffe.
Having A-list stars in a high concept film is an aspect that is in a high concept film it makes the audience keener to watch the movie because they recognise the A-list star and know that the film will be good if that star is in it. For example with Avengers having Samuel L Jackson in Avengers could have made the film successful as he done interviews which made the audience more aware and brought more viewers in as Samuel L Jackson is a big star.
Synosis plays a big part in the film industry because it involves Distribution and Promotion this is because many deals have been made with non-media companies for example Toy Story 3 made a deal with Peugeot where Woody the cowboy from Toy Story 3 was on the seat of the car it then goes on to Woody pulling up the seats in the car to advertise that the seats move so there easy to move about which shows the audience maybe that car is for them .Then Woody plays around with the car which also advertises what the car does. Then at the end of the advertisement it came up saying “take your seats” in the style of Toy Story 3 writing. This is clever because it’s in the concept of the cinema where ‘take your seats’ is to watch the movie. The advertisement was like a film with a ‘U rating’. The fact that the family car is advertising a family film this is a clever style to advertise two companies. Lastly, a competition comes up to go to California which is irrelevant but adds to the deal of the car and the promotion of the car. Avengers made deals with many different companies to promote their movie for example Dr Pepper, Burger King, Hershey’s, Reece’s, Kit Kat, Empire Magazine, Toy shops, Harley Davidson, Dunking donuts, Mc Donald’s, KFC and Norton virus software. All of these deals help the film industry to promote their film and get the audience to know their characters through different box meals. However, Sket who was made by Revolver cannot have any synopsis deals or any synergy because Revolver is an independent company and don’t have enough money to pay a company to promote their film so they advertise through Facebook and they’ve done a page on Sket and there’s a button that you can like this will help the film industry to understand what their audience wants from them. The disadvantages for major companies being able to use synopsis is that independent companies can’t risk the fact that the film might not work how they want it to and they won’t have any money to pay the big companies so the big companies don’t promote independent films. The only form of synergy is with Kiss FM and not Pixar or Marvel. Also they don’t have any way of doing merchandise or franchising deals, there are a limited audience and there will hardly be any A-list stars. However, Independent get awards for their films for example- 1st ever day and date theatrical release, 1st ever live online movie premier and 2012 BVA –Winner marketing initiative of film.
Avengers was distributed and Marketed by advertising on TV, Posters and trailers, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Big billboards and interviews with A-list stars. This will help the audience because they are having 360 degree campaignwhere the audience can’t escape advertisement, distribution and marketing because it is everywhere they are for example the internet, TV, Posters and on billboards when they are driving. This would be successful and helpful for the film industry because they are sure that their audiences are receiving all the information they need for their audiences to be interested in watching the films. For example having well known A-list stars doing interviews about the film will re-assure the audience that the film is good because the A-list always reveal sneaky peeks into the film and the latest gossip about the film coming out.
The decisions that needed to be made through the stage of production for Avengers were to convert the film from 2D into 3D and put it in IMAX cinemas. They also decided to out in visual effects like special effects. They included creative credits for example in Tony Stark’s tower and it goes round the tower while showing the credits. However with Sket the decisions made through the stage of production were what characters to have (unknown characters), what locations to use-London, There were a lack of special effects, To include local music on the soundtracks and the film and they would have a low budget so they had to do the best they could. All of these decisions for Avengers and Sket were very important because they determine whether the film will be successful.
The decisions that the cinema have to make in terms of films having appeal to the mass audience and Marketing and Exhibition is that they need to focus on peak times, the target audience, the storyline, screenings, food and drinks and different flavoured popcorn to apply to different audiences, leather chairs, frequency of film, e-mails, genre, area-population/religions of the population in that area, luxuries and the range of films. The exhibition of a film the cinema takes 50-60% if what the film makes and also the cinema makes most of their money from drinks, popcorn and nachos. The opening weekend for Avengers was $207,438,708 (USA) (6 May 2012) (4,349 Screens), the opening weekend for Woman In Black was $20,874,072 (USA) (5 February 2012) (2855 Screens). The two major independent films got a high opening weekend figure, this is not surprising because of the production, distribution and marketing that went on behind the film.
In conclusion, cross media convergence, synergy, vertical integration companies all play a massive part in the production, distribution and marketing of a film and the effects it has on the audience and film industries have to always be assessed to see what the best outcome would be.