In an age where the customized hashtag emoji is as part and parcel of a movie’s marketing campaign as a poster and trailer, studios need to keep finding new ways to grab your attention on social media.
So how does a personalized video greeting from Chris Evans or Paul Rudd grab you?
In preparation for the inter-squad superhero showdown Captain America: Civil War, Disney decided that its cute #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan hashtags—unveiled along with a trailer at this year’s Super Bowl—would be the tip of a much more ambitious iceberg—one that would have the Avengers themselves pulling extra work duty even after the film wrapped.
Walt Disney Studios Executive Vice President of Marketing, Asad Ayaz, walked Co.Create through the process of how emojis turned into over 1,000 custom videos created solely to engage fans on Twitter as they were encouraged to pick their sides.
"Twitter, obviously, is a perfect platform for us," Ayaz says. "It’s live, it’s scalable, it’s public, it’s conversational, and it’s the only platform where a one-to-one custom reply is possible. And you can do name-targeting and a lot of things that aren’t possible on other platforms." To add the extra dose of personalization, Ayaz explains that the Disney marketing team combed through the most popular baby names in the U.S. and Canada from the 1970s up until 2000 and had the cast call certain people out even more directly.
"Essentially what we did was we banked 1,000 custom videos with our actors and filmmakers, who were amazing and game to do this," explains Ayaz. "Normally on our campaigns we do content shoots where we bank talent greetings and intros and so on…it’s fairly standard. But on this one, we asked our talent to do these custom greetings for fans. We then picked the most popular names in the country, and did custom greetings. The actors had a lot of fun with it. We have actors with a lot of personality, a lot of wit … and they went to town. We got really funny, and sarcastic, and tongue in cheek responses."
According to Ayaz, the impact was immediate. In the first two weeks of the campaign, they saw close to 440,000 opt-ins, and over 2 million video views in just the first 24 hours—in fact, the increase in video consumption in general across all social media platforms was a huge motivator for this project from the get go.
And with those kinds of numbers comes the inevitable question of "what’s next?"—especially given that the stars of other high-profile Disney properties are already pretty active on social platforms. Will we be getting personalized John Boyega and Daisy Ridley content from a galaxy far, far away?
"Yes, obviously the [Captain America idea] was tied to choosing a team, so it fit thematically with how we were marketing the film. But I think for the right opportunity and the right angle we would definitely like to explore doing more of this," says Ayaz. "We’ve got filmmakers and talent who are on social media, who enjoy social media, and it creates that kind of authentic interaction between these personalities and fans and we love that so we’ll definitely explore it for future films."