For a new film, “The Constant Gardener,” Focus Features is intent on building its audience in a different way: by taking aim at readers of niche Web sites and blogs.
So far, so good. Using a blog to spread the news about a movie. Hm, nothing new here. But wait, it seems that all this amounts to is…
Focus, an art-house unit of Universal Pictures, has purchased ads for “The Constant Gardener” on the political blog Wonkette, as well as the Web sites of politically oriented publications like Harper’s, The Nation and National Review.
The news is that studios advertise on blogs?! I guess it is a big shift if all they did before is used ads indiscriminately everywhere. James Schamus, a co-president of the studio, says:
We looked for the places that sophisticated moviegoers seek out to find things that interest them. These are the people who are engaged with the world, who are informed about the big conspiracies going on out there.
I don’t know about the big conspiracies and I have been hanging around the blogosphere for a while. The point of blogging is that things get a bit more transparent, on the whole. Or does he mean the various nutters who do peddle conspiracies online? A niche audience indeed.
The article lists several films where studios dipped their toes online.
Ever since the release of “The Blair Witch Project” in 1999, movie studios have strived, and failed, to replicate the groundbreaking Internet campaign that made that film a marketing phenomenon. These new ad campaigns on the Web suggest that studios are becoming more determined to identify and reach niche audiences online.
Blogging works. But not if you do not understand the audience and pigeon-hole it before you start, just like the marketing person at ThinkFilm that bought banners at the bawdy gossip sites Gawker and Defamer:
Some movies just lend themselves to online advertising. ‘The Aristocrats’ is dirty, it’s obscene and it’s unrated, which is sort of like the Internet itself.
How about it’s free, dynamic and caters for all tastes… Geez.
But let’s be positive, Seth Godin, whose blog is worth reading, considers Focus clearly ahead of the curve in seeking an audience based on online behavior. I wonder then what he’d make of the Blowing Smoke blog.
Another marketing wonk weighs in, Joseph Jaffe:
The movie is about getting people to talk about a social issue. Blog readers want to be able to respond and add their own points of view.
Spot on. And how exactly does one do that with an advert? Ah, you are supposed to interact…
The “Aristocrats” ad also invites visitors to submit their own version of the film’s unprintable joke. ThinkFilm, which has an advertising budget well below the $30 million that major studios typically spend, is hoping that this interactive component can propel an ad throughout the Web, creating a cost-effective campaign.
Note the language, it is ‘the interactive component’ that is going to ‘propel the ad’ creating ‘a cost-effective campaign’. Not you and me, dear reader.
Apart from taking issue with pretty much everything in the article (my favourite gripes on my blog have been about marketing and advertising, for those who don’t know me), I am blogging about this because it points to a trend that is obvious to most people engaged with blogs. The big guys are starting to notice although they can’t seem to get ‘engaging’ any time soon:
Studios need to stop trying to reach the most people and focus on reaching the best people.
Indeed. But don’t stop there, try to do more than just target interactive adverts at them…
cross-posted from Blowing Smoke blog