I've created and launched several movie promotions, but when I read this article in Adweek, I knew I had to share the insights and brilliance that just happened. Getty Images partnered with Fox to promote their new movie, Unfinished Business starring Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco and, if I'm not mistaken, a few others. They created 12 different stock photography images featuring each of these movie stars.
Brilliant! If you've ever worked with stock photography, you know that while the images can be really good, they NEVER feature celebrity talent. The costs are just too high. Celebrities do a good job of protecting their image and their lack of availability makes the paparazzi go crazy. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. The less available a celebrity is, the more people want to see pictures of that celebrity.
But Vince Vaughn turned this standard on its head and has gotten a lot of buzz as a result of it. By working with Getty Images to provide "serious" pictures of each of the celebrities in the movie in office situations, it's as if they "punked" the industry. It's too soon to tell just how far and wide these images will go, but I suspect that this will become a case study in innovative viral marketing. By delivering massive value in unexpected places, Fox will be rewarded with significant Word of Mouth marketing and movie support.
My only criticism of the campaign is that they released all of these images just before the movie premiere. I understand why they did it--they wanted traditional media and trade magazines such as Adweek to cover the stunt, but this would have happened anyway. What was lost was the "build up" that could have been captured by quietly releasing these images well in advance of the movie premiere. By allowing bloggers and fans to discover these celebrity images and (eventually) this move on their own, the impact would have been substantially higher.
That said, I'm still a huge fan of this move. It was unconventional, imaginative, original and funny. Perhaps next time Fox (or another studio inspired by this move) will dig deeper into word of mouth / viral campaigns and promote their movies through innovative and non-traditional media channels.
The Blair Witch Project comes to mind. One of the most successful marketing campaigns for a horror film, The Blair Witch Project played off people's uncertainty if the movie was, in fact, a documentary gone wrong or just clever marketing. Tremendous buzz was built around a groundswell of debate about what the move was (or wasn't) and (once released) if the movie was actually scary or lame. Sometimes, that polarizing effect can be to a studio's benefit.
My hat is off to Fox, Getty Images, Vince Vaughn and the rest of the celebrities who were willing to try something totally different. Whenever you can successfully take a contrarian view and come up with something new and original, you're sure to stand out.
Do you know of another program like this that you think is clever and worth sharing? If so, please reach out to me on Twitter or leave a comment below.