Marketing A Movie Franchise In Messaging

Marketing a movie franchise comes with the benefit of a built-in audience, and the opportunity to arm them with the tools to create viral, word-of-mouth buzz for the film. Given the right tools--compelling content--this isn’t just free marketing, but a huge promotional advantage, as recently illustrated by the opening of Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 2. In addition to producing a critical and commercial hit, the team behind the film did an excellent job marketing it, resulting in an all time record high for a September movie opening.

For Hotel Transylvania 2, the key to leveraging the existing audience came down to using social media and mobile messaging to bring the film’s characters straight to the fans, generating buzz and growing excitement starting early in 2015, and up until the September premiere.

Finding the existing fans for Hotel Transylvania 2 meant targeting two groups: parents and kids.Hotel Transylvania 2 connected with parenting sites and bloggers, and delivered content to kids on younger skewing platforms like Snapchat and messaging via a Snaps keyboard.

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Mom bloggers were raving about the keyboard way back in March, which is when we saw the first spike in app installs and content shares. The keyboard was then promoted in the Hotel Transylvania 2trailer, which was released in mid-June, and we saw a second jump in app installs and content shares. Following this jump, usage continued to grow at a steady pace, as fans discovered the keyboard content via the trailer and from their friends.

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Leading up to the premiere, the team behind the franchise was very active across social media, promoting the film, games and the content keyboard. As a result, Hotel Transylvania 2 was outpacing other major upcoming releases across digital platforms, according to Moviepilot, which compares digital data to box office trends. Moviepilot tracked Hotel Transylvania 2 coming into opening weekend with 9.34m Facebook likes, 80.4m YouTube views, and 137k Tweets, a result of stellar franchise marketing and an early indicator of marketing effectiveness.

The result: a record-setting opening weekend for the film. Hotel Transylvania 2 grossed $47.5m opening weekend, becoming the new September record-holder for biggest opening. This title was previously held by the franchise’s first film with a $42.5m opening weekend. The opening weekend numbers also made Hotel Transylvania 2 the best start ever for a Sony Pictures Animation title.

Something we love about the Hotel Transylvania 2 keyboard: in addition to building organic buzz leading up to the film, it continues to connect fans with the brand, with viral content being shared at an even higher rate post premiere.

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Fans continue to send a mix of emojis, stickers and GIFs. We are excited to be part of such a major success and to see first-hand the impact that messaging content can have when marketing a beloved brand.