As we approach year’s end, I’ve begun to think back to some of the best examples of digital campaigns in 2009. One in particular stands out to me–Paranormal Activity.
I’m not a fan of scary movies, but I have great respect for the creators of Paranormal Activity, a low-budget horror flick released earlier this fall. With a miniscule budget of just $10,000, Paranormal Activity was able to reach blockbuster status after bringing in $22 million in its first weekend in wide-release. And it was all thanks to the power of social media.
While the film earned respectable viewership while in limited release, Paramount Studios saw even greater potential in mainstream audiences—but before investing the cash, they wanted to make sure. The studio launched a grassroots digital campaign to generate buzz around the film and gauge interest from potential viewers. Should 1 million viewers announce online that they’d like to see the film, Paranormal Activity would be expanded to wide-release across the country.
This campaign was hugely successful and the online chatter surrounding the psychological thriller was even more than expected. Horror film buffs took to their blogs, Twitter pages and Facebook account not only asking, but demanding to see the film in wide-release.
“The fans have really made this their film and they are doing the bulk of the work to market the film,” said Megan Colligan, co-president of marketing for Paramount Studios.
The grassroots approach enabled consumers to feel like they were a part of a movement and encouraged them to spread the word—a benchmark of a successful online campaign. Even though I respect and appreciate what the marketers were able to accomplish, I’ll stick to watching It’s a Wonderful Life this time of year.