Worldwide, the movie industry is entertainment, employment and a multi-pronged business. Film in its original language matters less as the dialogue translates into context. Every once in a while, a film is so well crafted that the viewer quietly wanders into its magic. These are the few exceptional films that deserve acclaim and as well as the viewers’ time in its realm. Promotional campaigns, particularly for films, are fascinating displays of brand strategy. In fact, the marketing of films served as the inspiration for our own brand a decade ago. If producers recollect money spent, there is little impetus to spend further funds on marketing. More than one film has missed the light of day after a few showings because they were hanging on shoestrings marketing budgets from the get go.
Film marketing is critical to a film’s distribution and success. Post-production expenses are separate from the film production cost and at least include copy and content development costs, staff, campaign events and digital marketing. According to a survey of the US motion picture and video production industry, published in 2023 by Statista, the average film advertising spend is over $500 million. If you add the annual frenzy during award season, the numbers climb even higher. While $1 million dollars still sounds like a pipe dream to the average American, filmmakers consider it only a low-budget drop in the proverbial bucket.
For your consideration is the ultimate campaign strategy for films. In Hollywood, the annual awards held by the 95th Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a slew of brand campaigns leading up to the top honors. At the beginning of each year, big names shell out big dollars and gain attention worldwide. Production studios allot big budgets “for your consideration” for films and the expectation is that the film will garner support of The Academy. For the most part, the wins remain predictable.
This year, out of the blue, a small film, To Leslie, and its lead actress, suddenly popped up onto the Oscar nomination radar. The $1million film gained film festival nods throughout the year, despite a box-office return of abit over $27K. While so many studios spent millions in traditional promotion, Andrea Riseborough’s inclusion in the nominations is brand strategy on an artful scale. How its lead actress subscribed to the lesser known “friends and family plan” rather than the multimillion-dollar target audience of voters and sent the Academy into a tailspin and made news.
The epitome of a brand well presented, lies in its simplicity and the brilliance of execution. The grassroots appeal of Riseborough’s rise to acclaim is calculated and specific. She is highlighted not for her beauty, nor her private life, but strictly for her accomplishment. She stands on equal ground with her male counterparts, measured for her skill and the respect she garners. The names of her supporters are well known and accomplished; the sorority of women who have the coveted golden statue on their own mantels joined by others nominated for the same. They used the power of social media and their expansive celebrity following to draw attention to Riseborough. As if a verbal advertorial, one actress, nominated for the award herself, casually referred to Riseborough in her own acceptance speech, drawing attention instantly.
Brand strategy is not new, nor the idea of campaigns, novel. No one is questioning whether the actress earned her place as an artist. What hit Hollywood by surprise is that a slew of female nominees and awardees saida few well-chosen words and knocked multi-million dollar campaigns to the curb. How dare that a few women have the ability and daresay, the power, to drive the academy’s nominee list? The right words at the right time, by specific people is in fact, the most elementary aspect of branding. So, now, the brouhaha is about whether it was right or wrong for Riseborough to A-listers promote her on a large scale.
The Academy is welcome to debate and review the nominating process backwards and forwards. A year after the Best Actor accolade was handed straight into the yet warm hands of someone who openly assaulted a fellowcomedian, the Academy may have less right to be the authority on whether rules are followed or not.