Lights, camera, advertise! Getting attention for a new movie isn’t as easy as it sounds. No matter how good a movie is, if it doesn’t get the right promotional exposure, if it doesn’t get people to theaters, there are going to be a lot of empty seats on opening night, foreshadowing your studio’s empty pockets.
Big-name movie studios are using Facebook to make sure that never happens. To market their movies, they strategically use the platform to create hype, evoke emotion, build anticipation, and offer value. This article analyzes Facebook ads by nine prestigious studios to give you inspiration for your own movie marketing campaign.
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Warner Bros. cleverly highlights the connection between two imaginary worlds in this video ad. The video begins with two actors who play main characters in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Jude Law (Albus Dumbledore) and Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander), excitedly summarizing the J.K. Rowling-inspired film. They focus on promoting the movie’s connection to the Harry Potter series, supplementing the message in the post text above the video. They speak for about 40 seconds before leading us into a trailer.
As the video fades to black after the two actors lure us in with their promises of magic and brilliant story connections, we feel like we’re about to watch the movie. Warner Bros. then intertwines scenes and dialogue from the Harry Potter series with scenes and dialogue in The Crimes of Grindelwald, giving us various aha and that’s-who-they-were-talking-about moments. The ad effectively creates excitement and mystery.
In the post text, Warner Bros. encourages viewers to purchase tickets by including the link and the call to action “Get tickets now” above the video. Additionally, it includes the hashtag #FantasticBeasts to create the illusion that everyone is talking about this movie and to draw attention to a title we’re already familiar with, as this is the second of the two Fantastic Beasts films.
Universal Studios Entertainment uses value proposition to excite us about the extended cut of Night School. This video ad draws attention to what we will get with the extended cut that we didn’t with the original version. For example, we see clips from the movie with brightly colored, bold text overlays accompanied by a strong voice-over promoting bonus features, deleted scenes, a gag reel, and an alternate opening. The use of both a voice-over and text overlays allows us to view the video both with or without sound.
The post text also highlights big celebrity names of the two main characters in the film, Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish. Additionally, the post text includes the hashtag #NightSchool to increase visibility in Facebook’s search results. The value proposition is accompanied by a sense of urgency, which is created by the inclusion of the December 11 and January 1 release dates. It makes us feel a little impatient with anticipation.
Walt Disney Studios
This short video ad by Walt Disney Studios is simple, clear, and effective. Its simplicity appeals to our childlike sense of humor, capturing our attention. Very few words are needed. Upbeat, techno music, a catchy line, and a fun computer arrow pointing at Ralph do the trick.
The ad creates a sense of anticipation with the “in 1 week” line, which appears in the post text and in the top bar in the video. At the end of the video, we also see “In Theaters November 21” to build upon that anticipation. The ad uses the hashtag #RalphBreaksTheInternet, the movie title, to create a postable and searchable catchphrase. The video is straight to the point, lasting only 15 seconds with very little text (both above and within the video) so that we don’t have to think too hard or spend a lot of time deciphering the message.
Sony Pictures promotes its Blu-ray and DVD formats of The Crown’s second season in this sophisticated video ad. To pursue the theme of royalty, Sony begins the video with “A piece of history for your royal collection.” In a smooth transition like a watercolor stroke, we see an image appear.
The music in the video is both majestic and dramatic, suggesting there is something dark underneath the exterior, underneath the polite smiles of the characters pictured in the static photo, a snapshot from the show. This undertone is affirmed in the quote by Mrs. Kennedy from the show: “People are so rarely what they seem.”
The video fades out to a shot of the Blu-ray edition of The Crown, showing praises by esteemed news sources. It is here where we get social proof, as these testimonials tell us the show is well worth watching.
The ad includes a “Shop Now” call-to-action, making it easy to buy the season on Blu-ray or DVD.
20th Century Fox
This 12-second Facebook video by 20th Century Fox doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles to touch on our emotions and excite us for the Widows film. In addition to the dark, ominous lighting, the only movement in the image is the light wafting over “ONE WEEK,” sparking our curiosity about these seemingly mysterious and foreboding characters. Add the post text above, which reads, “It’s almost here. Widows hits theaters in one week,” and we become aware of and excited for this upcoming movie that will answer all our questions the video elicits.
The studio also provides a link in the post text where we can buy tickets to comfort our temporary impatience. Additionally, the studio ads the #WidowsMovie hashtag to create hype and to make a searchable catchphrase around the movie.
Paramount Pictures creates hype and uses celebrity names to draw attention to its movie Bumblebee, using this new poster for the film in a Facebook post. In the post text, Paramount evokes interest and curiosity with the opening line “Every story has a beginning,” which parallels the tagline in the poster. The ad also includes the date, Christmas, adding to our existing excitement for the holidays.
The piece that really helps this ad, however, is the tagged names of the two celebrities who star in the film, Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena. By tagging the actors, the post will appear on the feeds of Steinfield and Cena, informing their followers of the upcoming film.
In this 16-second Facebook video, Lionsgate grabs your eye, creates urgency, and builds suspense while promoting Robinhood. The brief video includes Robinhood moving in slow motion behind the text with the movie title and release date. This edited shot from the film matches up with the post text, which playfully teases, “Right on target,” followed by a link where you can easily purchase tickets.
Just like Disney’s ad for Ralph Breaks the Internet, this message is clear and easy to understand. We instantly know what it’s for (Robinhood) and how Lionsgate wants us to respond (buy tickets).
DreamWorks promotes How to Train Your Dragon with a unique gif and very few words. It evokes feelings of wanderlust and bravery, switching between a little boy and a grown man. The post text affirms these feelings: “Be brave, Hiccup.”
Like the other ads in this article, this one creates a hashtag with the movie title, #HowToTrainYourDragon, to get you thinking about it as a trending topic.
The movie title logo stamped in the bottom left corner of the video serves as a subtle reminder of which movie the gif is promoting.
This ad for the movie Glass by Blumhouse evokes fear, a sense of mystery, discomfort, and thrill. Blumhouse taps into these feelings by using ominous music, images of broken glass with sharp edges, and the deep voice of Samuel Jackson’s character. The ad’s post text leads us into this spiral of lurking danger: “You cannot contain what you are.”
Unlike the rest of the ads in this article, this ad doesn’t put a lot of focus on the movie’s release date. In the video itself, the date doesn’t appear until the end, and then we see it in tiny words below the video.
Instead of pushing ticket sales, Blumhouse instead allows an “Interested” call-to-action to lure its audience, which is a strategic play because when users indicate interest, they will receive Facebook notifications as the movie’s release date approaches. This makes the ad engaging as well as thrilling.
Get Your Audience into Their Seats
When marketing your studio’s new movie or television series on Facebook, you need to create enough of a reaction that will get your audience into movie theaters. Although the platform makes it easy to get very creative visually, it’s your job to come up with a unique approach that stands out above the rest. Fortunately for you, most people seek out ways to be entertained because they want to have a good time. Movies are one of the most popular forms of entertainment.
If you play your cards right, the next big thing coming soon is your incredible Facebook ad.