The vital lockdowns necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19 have pushed us to re-evaluate how we approach movie marketing. But rather than despair at how long it has been since we last ate a themed cookie, handed over a laminated screening invite or pushed for that strong photo angle at a live event, it has instead forced us to innovate.
To start with, screenings and screening events have gone online. Home screeners are nothing new, but digital links have never been as vital as they are now. For the films which choose to launch on PVOD, digital screening links and invitations allow influencers to see a movie and share content all from the safety of their living room. Passwords and live links require a higher level of admin - you need to make sure it doesn’t become a free-for-all on the screening link - but they can achieve similar results to a physical event. For Peccadillo Pictures’ launch of Monsoon, starring Henry Golding, we reached out to influencers to invite them to visit a screening link and then attend a virtual Q+A with talent. This resulted in Instagram Stories posts which we could then report on much the same way as we would have with a physical screening.
For those extra incentives of refreshments or merch, there is the ‘desk drop’. Again, these have been around forever, but have gained a new importance since we all began being at home full time. From Disney’s special WandaVision TV dinner sets, to potion making afternoon tea for Warner Bros’ The Witches (2020), there are ways to innovate and make those unboxings a memorable experience worthy of sharing on Social. At Substance, boxes have fast become something of a speciality: for Sega’s launch of video game Persona 5 Strikers, we sent out special engraved Bento Boxes filled with treats for influencers and game fans to enjoy. They made such an impression that streamer Greg Miller shared his on social.
And as for Q+As and cast appearances? They can still happen too, in the form of Virtual Premieres and livestreams. If anything, these can give fans an even bigger chance of getting their question heard, with comments sections allowing fans to join in the conversation as it happens and have these special interactions with talent from the safety of their homes. This is absolutely a growing area for Substance, with livestream management becoming an essential tool. There’s definitely an art to making live online events look seamless, and plenty of preparation behind the scenes to make it run smoothly. But the advantage is it can bring together talent from around the world easily, and helps bring international projects to more people. It no longer matters if the key people involved in a project live on opposite sides of the earth: Facebook Live brings everyone together. Working with Birds’ Eye View as part of their Reclaim The Frame initiative, which celebrates female and diverse voices in the world of film, we have helped run a season of special livestreams on their Facebook channel. This quickly became a go-to option for replacing what would have been live events, with the added benefit of having the recordings for posterity and for fans to watch if they cannot make the live appointment.
Social media has arguably gained more prominence and importance now than it ever has. Staying connected to friends, family, and the world whilst also staying safely indoors has made it nigh-on vital. But with that importance also comes a level of responsibility. Making sure both influencers and the audience they are posting to are comfortable with the content you are helping them create or share is an absolute necessity. And by finding ways to navigate the influencer marketing space during this period of stay at home, you are helping maintain that alternate line of communication while keeping everyone involved safe too.