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Movies and music artists are brands, in and of themselves. Each new release requires its own approach. For a long time, standard practice relied on traditional advertising and media. Typically, trailers are distributed as advertisements and a movie’s stars promote the film in TV, print, and radio interviews. Recording artists follow similar promotional methods. While those traditional marketing methods definitely still have their place, today’s to-be-blockbusters, recording artists, and entertainment brands not only need to be differentiated through their branding to pique viewer interest but also presented properly to the right viewing audiences.
Enter the YouTube video, top YouTube channels, and YouTubers. Just on mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds than any other U.S. cable network. Beyond that, using YouTube is a more intentional act than simply turning on the TV or flipping through a magazine. YouTube viewers access the site intentionally (proactively watching their favorite channels and YouTubers), and are extremely receptive to captivating creative content. As consumers, they are engaged, motivated, and passionate. In this shifting media landscape, where viewers are active participants in their own media consumption, the challenge is to supplement the same generic strategy in order to reach targeted audiences in a way that’s fresh, innovative, and captivating.
Many entertainment brands and smart marketers have already begun to engage this new generation of movie watchers through YouTubers. Take, for example, Pitch Perfect 2 and the buzz they created by engaging YouTube’s passionate acapella community (Adweek discusses Pitch Perfect’s digital marketing win here), Arnold Schwarzenegger’s YouTuber collab series for Terminator Genisys, Paul Rudd’s “tiniest trophy” Ant-Man game promo with Dude Perfect, and Amy Schumer’s “Not Sex” Q&A with YouTuber Flula Borg for Trainwreck.
Here are the takeaways from several entertainment brands marketing with top YouTubers and channels:
As one of the first breakout YouTubers and top makeup guru, Kandee Johnson recreates Tigris, a new character from the last installment of the Hunger Games series: Mockingjay Part 2. Additionally, Lionsgate (producers of The Hunger Games) smartly tapped a variety of YouTubers to create a wide array of promotional content for the third installment of the series including Veritasium and iJustine (Variety). Science vlogger Derek Muller (Veritasium), for example, created a video about the electrical components of the Hunger Games universe. DIY channel Threadbanger playfully explained tips for using excess armor. In keeping with the rules of the Hunger Games (that is, the games in the world of the series), each vlogger was assigned to a “district”. Video release dates were publicized to draw attention to the campaign, and generated some excitement surrounding the film prior to its actual release.
Key Takeaways: If the brand has broad appeal, it’s worth connecting with a variety of influencers and letting them create content that works for their audience. Different YouTubers have different niches, and creating buzz across all relevant audiences is key to a successful release.
Freddie Wong, creator of the RocketJump channel on YouTube, primarily makes action entertainment videos. His 7.6 million subscribers are exactly the target demographic for action flicks like Kingsmen, the summer action comedy blockbuster starring Colin Firth. Wong’s reinterpretations of Kingsmen in his own style is an excellent example of a brand allowing an influencer creative freedom in producing sponsored content. Furthermore, RocketJump’s entertainment brand promo provides Wong’s audience with a teaser into the content of the film. Oftentimes marketing with YouTubers offers entertainment brands a much more creative, novel, and relevant integration than their usual trailer counterparts.
Key Takeaways: Know who the YouTubers are for your key demographic and let them be creative. YouTubers know their audiences best, and brands will reap the benefits of organic content.
Singer Selena Gomez recently turned up on YouTube star Lilly Singh’s (iiSuperwomanii) channel to promote her album, Revival. The video features Gomez and Singh playing their version of “The Newly Friend Game” and, in many ways, functions as an interview. Gomez and Singh’s fan bases are primarily made up of the same demographics but Singh’s channel offered great exposure to her 7+ million subscribers—many of them are the Millennials most likely to purchase the album.
Key Takeaways: Digital influencers are beginning to replace TV interviewers. Exposure through YouTube creates targeted buzz that viewers intentionally consume and avidly follow, much like traditional talk shows.
Sponsored by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, top YouTuber and adventure filmmaker Devin Graham created a dedicated Mad Max-inspired video in promotion of their game. In line with his signature epic videography style, Devin’s Mad Max game promo reenacts the movie’s battle scenes with outrageous gokarts and paintball warring scenes amidst a scenic desert turf.
Key Takeaways: Done properly, marketing with YouTubers can help entertainment brands bridge and reach audiences in both entertaining and authentic ways driving profitable engagement, brand lift, and awareness.