The Hunger Games and Marketing
The Hunger Games is an interesting study on marketing. Both in the context of the book/movie as well as the buzz that was generated around the movie making it the third highest debut film of all time (of course this is only for movies that have not debuted in summer) but $152 million on opening weekend, bringing in almost $400 million dollars world wide to date makes this movie a smash hit.
Just a quick recap. The Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic young adult novel recently turned movie written by Suzanne Collins and published by Scholastic in September 2008.
So how did they do it? Was it the solid fan base? The fact that they sponsored a fan to see the making of the film and gaining fan support? Maybe the fact that they’ve teamed up The fact that this type of movie appeals to a wide variety of ages and genders? It certainly wasn’t the marketing budget of $45 million (most studios spend upward of $100 million for a major release).
**spoiler alert! hope you’ve read the book or watched the movie by now…**
I (as a psychology major, sorry but it’s true) am equally fascinated by the idea of marketing in the story of the movie as well. Haymitch (the District 12 Mentor) does say that a major part of the Games is to get people to “like you” and Cinna helps the District 12 tributes to “make an impression” it seems spontaneous, but I’m sure that Cinna planned well and knew that Katniss (or Peeta) would be refered to as “on fire”.
In the book part of what helps Katniss and Peeta win these games is “playing to their audience”. Both give their audience interesting, compelling characters. A warrior goddess, “the girl on fire” and the love struck boy are both characters that people feel a connection to. Katniss plays to this well when she deliberately acts her part to get Peeta medicine and the “death pact” of eating the berries. She’s a fast learner.
Once Haymitch, starts taking an interest in them more than his drinking and Cinna, their ingenious stylist lights them both “on fire” the District 12 tributes have made a strong impression on the Capitol.
I’m sure that Lionsgate must have “taken a page” from the book. They made sure that the book fan base liked them — both by having the current fans give their blessing and by giving assurances that they would remain faithful to the book.
They began promoting in 2009 (that’s 4 years of planning and execution!) and had teams dedicated to speaking to fans, how to deal with the promotion of the film given the grim content (kids killing kids is not a good look).
So here’s what I’ve learned about marketing from the Hunger Games:
Have an amazing product
The Hunger Games appeals to a wide variety of people on a number of levels. It’s a sci-fi, it has action, suspense and thrills, it features a strong capable female protagonist, it appeals to a teen audience. There’s romance but just enough. I could go on, but you know what I mean.
Listen to your fans
Lionsgate made sure to get feedback from fans of the books and a growing number of fans that their marketing efforts produced. Nurturing that feedback loop and working with the suggestions of fans helped ensure their success. Katniss also did this when she played up the “star-crossed lovers” idea, something that she used to get the result she wanted.
Get people to “know you, like you, trust you”
Lionsgate did this with interesting websites, games and contests. Things like being able to sign up as a citizen of the Capitol or being a member of a District and using Twitter and Facebook to help facilitate this.
Reward interest and loyalty
Here’s what I got from the New York Times “On Dec. 15, 100 days before the movie’s release, the studio created a new poster and cut it into 100 puzzle pieces. It then gave digital versions of those pieces to 100 Web sites and asked them to post their puzzle piece on Twitter in lockstep.
Fans had to search Twitter to put together the poster, either by printing out the pieces and cutting them out or using a program like Photoshop. “The Hunger Games” trended worldwide on Twitter within minutes.”
Stand behind a cause
Lionsgate has teamed up with the World Food Programme and Feeding America, encouraging fans to learn more about world hunger and donate to these charities.
Katniss also stands for a cause, at first this is just about saving her sister and trying not to get killed but eventually it involves hope and freedom. Something that people worldwide can resonate with.
May the odds be ever in your favor…
© 2012 Lakshmi Gosyne
“Lakshmi Gosyne helps women entrepreneurs learn, love and profit from online technology and social media. Find out more about how to make technology work for you by visiting www.lakshmigosyne.com”