In 2016, National Amusements worked with Mighty Social to create a campaign for their new film, Thomas and Friends: The Great Race. The cinema distributor wanted to learn from the challenges of previous releases, and create a social media campaign that targeted its audiences very specifically. Figaro Digital spoke to James Dobbin of National Amusements and Joel Davis of Mighty Social to discover how they did it.
Targeting For Minimum Waste
With such a precise audience to target ahead of the movie’s release, National Amusements worked with Mighty Social to implement a strategy that would have a great reach and engagement rate, but with limited wastage. The audience for this film was very particular, Dobbin explains, being mainly parents with children between two and five years old. Using media such as TV and Newspaper didn’t reach that audience as effectively. “Social media became the main drive, because it offered a way to target specific audience segments effectively, with a good level of coverage and frequency across that period,” says Dobbin. The main focus was on Facebook, as well as a “simple but effective website, that housed the trailer, geo-targeted the customer’s location, and brought up listings showing where the nearest cinema was that was playing the film.” Monitoring traffic on the website to see what was happening geographically was also important, so that National Amusements could take this into account for future campaigns.
Through a method combining both targeting and exclusion, adds Davis, Mighty Social was able to use survey data collected from parents. “Between this parent base and Facebook, we could effectively target the right people, and more importantly exclude the people less likely to be interested in seeing the film.” Identifying this specific audience meant that National Amusements and Mighty Social could use the best platforms to target them, and do so with minimal waste by excluding those less likely to buy tickets.
Anxieties Of Your Audience
National Amusements worked hard to cater to the specific needs and anxieties of its audience. Dobbin explains that the audience tended to be a “lapse cinema audience”, because it was made up of parents “worried about the first time they bring their children to the cinema”. It was essential that through its PR strategy, the brand was able to “tell the story that actually, going to the cinema for the first time with your two-year-old is a comfortable experience, only 60 minutes long, and you’re there with other like-minded parents”. Identifying the specific worries of the audience was essential to reassure parents and encourage them to bring their children to see the film.
Different Approaches For Different Campaign Periods
Keeping people engaged throughout the six week campaign prior to release was essential. After an initial flurry of ticket sales, Dobbin explains, sales tend to plateau around the middle period of a campaign. Despite this, it’s often the moment where “traffic increases, with customers becoming interested in the content. This is the time to deliver more brand messages and get the audience feeling warm and fuzzy about Thomas”. The final period of the campaign had more of a focus on sales messaging: “So we talk about sites that are sold out, how wide it’s going, additional dates that we are adding, to ensure people understand this film is selling very well, and they need to go to the cinema to go and see it.” As well as encouraging last minute ticket sales, the sales drive also created a “mini community”, says Davis, with people “commenting saying that they had booked their tickets and were looking forward to going.” Being aware of the different stages of the campaign and responding to them meant National Amusements could encourage sales at moments when people were most likely to buy, maintain interest during the sale plateau, and create a sense of excitement and community towards the end of the campaign.
Passionate Established Audiences
As National Amusements tends to focus on campaigns targeting established audiences, social media is an ideal platform to trigger this audience. For example, for the ten Japanese anime films coming out this year, 90 per cent of the brand’s budget has gone on Facebook. Anime has “a fanatical audience that knows the brand already”, so to promote anime film Dragon Ball Z, Facebook was ideal. “We created Facebook events around all the cinemas taking part, and promoted through Facebook. The response was insane, the customers saw it and shared it with all their friends, and our cost per click came right down”, explains Dobbin. Social media was ideal for “triggering the passion of and interacting with this audience”. Running an efficient and effective campaign therefore relied on understanding and triggering the excitement of an established audience, that was already familiar with the brand – much like the approach used for the Thomas film that came before.
The work of National Amusements and Mighty Social proves the significance of thoroughly knowing your audience in order to ensure you are targeting, and more importantly excluding, the right people. Understanding audience interests, motivations and reservations allows marketers to choose the optimum channels by which to reach and engage the consumer effectively throughout all stages of the campaign.