The Total Experience: Using Experiential Marketing To Sell Films

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC The Total Experience: Using Experiential Marketing To Sell Films

It’s a whole new way to generate a buzz before a film is even shown at the cinema. The use of experiential marketing in marketing films has taken form over the past decade. The concept was discussed and analysed at length in a paper by James H. Gilmore And B. Joseph Pine II called “Experience Economy” in Harvard Business School Press published in July 1998: read it. They described it as “…an experience occurs when a company intentionally uses services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that create a memorable event”. Why is this important – well the more memorable event the more engagement that therefore transforms into sales of merchandise, cinema tickets etc. It is increasingly being used to help consumers not just visualise but also experience a brand and make that all important emotional connection.

A great example used by the brand Adidas was to invite Derek Rose (basketball superstar who had just designed his own Adidas trainer) to an event where customers could jump the same height as their hero to win a pair of trainers. Was it about the trainers, meeting the hero and or for five minutes pretend to be him by jumping the same height he does every time he plays professional basketball – take a look:

The experiential marketing event must be memorable. If it leaves a strong and lasting impression on customers for exampled themes Gilmore and Pine cite Cesar’s palace in Las Vegas and the ultimate master of the experiential marketing Walt Disney with Disney World as being successful.



Experiential marketing companies like RPM are using their skills to help consumers not just visualize but also experience a brand and make that all important emotional connection.  Some of the examples focus on combining two such as the Coca Cola marketing with Skyfall James Bond – both escapist and entertaining. The only one that seems to have mastered all four and left a very lasting impression is the Secret Cinema – Back to the Future – it is simply wow and this year they will be back with one of my all time favourite films – The Empire Strikes Back – summer 2015. However all the previous examples build on existing brands – it will be interesting to see how films that we know little about will generate a buzz using experiential marketing. For it to work it has to fully immerse the consumer in the particular world and let them experience what the character experiences and be creative, whether or not they feel fear, and it has to be well executed it will succeed. Here are our picks of experiential marketing campaigns some of which are well executed and one or two that don’t quite manage the product tie in and therefore ‘fail’.

Leave an “indelible impression” that fulfil the theme – Coke did just that when they gave consumers the chance to win tickets to the James Bond ‘Skyfall’ premiere.

To promote the remake of Carrie – unsuspecting customers in a New York coffee shop experience first hand Carrie’s telekinetic power. Did they realise it and did they go buy the movie who knows but it certainly well executed by the looks on their faces

Experiential marketing only works if there is also enough buzz and there is a positive experience – any negativity or if it’s poorly designed and it will flop. I’m still undecided as to whether Chucky was a success or not:

The Sharkando 2 – probably the most successful B movie of recent times although unless you had heard of it then it wouldn’t really mean much and here it doesn’t really seem to have a tie in:

Secret Cinema staging of Back To The Future simply put it is a master class in experiential marketing of themselves as the brand – Secret Cinema.


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Ros is as picky about what she watches as what she eats. She watches movies alone and dines solo too (a new trend perhaps?!). As a self confessed scaredy cat, Ros doesn’t watch horror films, even Goosebumps made her jump in parts!

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