HOLLYWOOD is counting on you and your Instagram to help promote its latest movies. If you “Peanutized” your profile pic with “The Peanuts Movie” app or declared yourself Straight Outta Somewhere when “Straight Outta Compton” hit theaters, you’re playing along perfectly.
The personalized meme is the entertainment industry’s latest marketing tool. It works by enlisting fans to spread awareness about new movies by integrating ads with shareable selfies.
The “Star Wars” app, for example, lets you pose for photos with Yoda. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2” app, available later this month, allows users to apply outlandish virtual makeup like the film’s colorful Capitol residents. An interactive site for “The Last Witch Hunter” invites guests to witch-ify their photos.
“Social media has become a channel where we share things about our own lives, so marketers very cleverly have asked the next question, which is: how can we get consumers to care about our products in a way that makes it about their own lives?” said marketing consultant Dorie Clark. “And to the extent they’re able to do that, they’re able to create fun, viral phenomena.”
By making the images personal, fans don’t experience that hard-sell feeling.
“As an individual, you risk looking like a shill if you’re just passing on ads for no good reason,” Clark said. “But when studios come out with innovative campaigns that allow you to somehow personalize an element of the movie to yourself, it becomes sharing about you rather than sharing about the movie.”
Yet every time someone posts one of these personalized images, their friends and followers are also reminded of the film.
Millions of unique Peanuts characters have been created since the “Peanutize Me” app launched last month. Users of the site can customize a Peanut by choosing the character’s hairstyle, skin color, outfit and accessories. Fox plans to update the site this week with Halloween-themed content to continue building buzz for the film’s Nov. 6 release.
And while moviegoers might be faced with a glut of film-related photo apps as studios scramble to replicate the success of Straight Outta Somewhere, Clark said “personalization fundamentally is here to stay.”
“You can imagine horror movies where you’re inserting yourself into a GIF and get your own head bitten off by a monster,” she said. “You can imagine a moody, foreign film where you can create a cool image of yourself being seduced by the leading man or glamorous heroine. There are a lot of directions this can go.”
And studios hope they’ll all ultimately lead you to the movie theater. (AP)