Fact: Avatar’s first weekend worldwide box office was $242.5 million.
Fact: Avatar grossed $1.3 billion worldwide in less than a month.
Prevalent Speculation: Including marketing, the project represented a nearly $450 million bet.
Tactic: In this week’s Advertising Age, a cover story discusses the way 20th Century Fox marketed the movie: traditionally, with a $150 million ad spend, and big promotional partners.
Conclusion: Don’t dismiss mass marketing yet.
Yes, we live in radically altered times. Opinion enjoys new mass channels as consumers actively dis-integrate old mass channels. And yet, given a good story that piques our interest, raises some classic themes, and gets everyone talking, a compelling mass market message can still drive outrageous success. It’s just now, when that advertising gets the whole world talking, individuals have places to further the discussion: Twitter, e-mail, even self-important blogs like this one. When a story captures peoples’ imaginations, they pick up and pass it along for you, expanding the coverage and radically extending the media buy. Today, if you generate good word of mouth, you get something mass marketing can rarely buy: sustainability.
People who’ve seen the movie, rave about it. And that drives more sales, as positive word of mouth sways people who were considering seeing it, particularly in the pricier IMAX 3-D.
So Avatar’s wildly successful initial weekend box office results were not driven by social: there was no official Twitter account to follow. And there was no viral digital experience (those lost favor when the Snakes on a Plane hysteria failed to drive audiences to theaters).
Just a lot of TV–including long format buys and major sponsor support–and some really strong PR. Clearly, Avatar is a mass brand. And it advertises that way. Pepsi meanwhile, has loudly announced its decision to shun the Super Bowl. Hmm…
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79