The Mighty Macs became the highest grossing limited release film the weekend it opened after the filmmakers used new and old social and digital marketing techniques. By promoting the film through local influencer screenings, email and social media marketing, the filmmakers were able to achieve a high turnout at the box office. The core of the strategy was targeting the right consumer with the right message.
High audience turnout helped The Mighty Macs become the #1 top grossing film in the limited release category. When compared to other films outside its category, including films that were released in 3,000+ theaters and had larger marketing budgets, The Mighty Macs was the #12 top ranking film overall on opening weekend.
Sean Wolfington, executive producer of The Mighty Macs and owner of Tier10, the marketing company that marketed the film, aimed to promote the movie while staying within the filmmaker’s limited budget by utilizing digital and social media techniques. Through targeted social media campaigns, the marketers would reach the audience most likely to see the film and motivate them to show up at the box office.
Putting a new spin on film marketing, the film marketers used Facebook to target the right audience. Next, they created a video with a compelling message to encourage consumers to see the movie on opening weekend, and utilized the power of social media to create a viral effect when users shared the video with their friends. The film marketers also used a more traditional approach by hosting successful premieres across the country to help promote the film the week before it opened in theaters.
To find the audience with the highest statistical probability of seeing the film, Tier10 targeted Facebook users based on their “Favorites.” Users who had preferred other inspirational sports movies would have the most potential to go see The Mighty Macs, and then share the experience with their friends.
“If you know what a Facebook user’s favorite films have been in the past, you can predict what their favorite film will be in the future,” said Wolfington.
Specifically, they looked for users that listed inspirational sports films like Rudy or Hoosiers under their favorite movies. After determining these target users, they narrowed down the audience even further by targeting geographically. “The Mighty Macs began as a limited release in less than 1,000 theaters, so we targeted Facebook users who live within driving distance of the theatres that are showing the film,” said Wolfington.
Once the ideal target audience was identified, the advertisers delivered a compelling message that motivated consumers to come to the theater on opening weekend. Using a video interview with Rudy Ruettiger, the “real-life” Rudy who inspired the film about his life, the filmmakers informed potential moviegoers of a new film that’s just like one of their favorites. Rudy had been so moved by the film that he volunteered to help promote it.
In the interview, Rudy praised the film, saying, “If you liked Hoosiers and Rudy, you will love The Mighty Macs.” When users with Rudy listed as their favorite movie saw the real-life inspiration of that movie promoting The Mighty Macs, they would feel compelled to see it themselves. Because the right audience had been targeted, the messaging was undeniable.
“We call this strategy ‘Targeted TV’ because it gives us all the upside of TV, with its powerful combination of sight, sound and motion, with the ability to deliver the right message to the right consumer,” said Tim Chambers, the writer, director and producer of The Mighty Macs. “In this case it’s the consumer who loves inspiring sports films, particularly, Rudy. It’s a perfect campaign because people who love the real-life Rudy want to listen to what Rudy loves, especially films that inspire him.”
After creating the video, the filmmakers utilized the social power of Facebook to market the film and spread the video across Facebook’s network. Because the users with the highest statistical probability of seeing the film had been targeted, they were more likely to respond to the compelling message in the video and then share that video with their friends. The average Facebook user has 180 friends, so when they share the video, it creates a viral effect that helps promote the film quickly and efficiently.
Another benefit of using Facebook to promote the film is that filmmakers only pay when users click on the video, and don’t pay for impressions or for when the video is shared. This makes for cost-efficient marketing, allowing the filmmakers to reach more people for less.
“We call the second half of the campaign, ‘Social TV’ because users who “Like” the Ruettiger video can share it with all of their friends and then the whole process repeats itself indefinitely,” added Wolfington. “When ‘Targeted TV’ becomes ‘Viral TV’ with the click of a button, it is a very effective way to attract customers who have the highest statistical probability of going to see The Mighty Macs.”
To help promote the movie, the film’s marketers also held several successful premiere events across the country. In the week leading up to the film’s opening night, Tier10 hosted four premieres in four of the country’s largest markets: Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami. Each premiere featured appearances by the cast and crew, including the writer, director and producer, Tim Chambers, as well as celebrities, journalists, and business leaders.
A new twist was added when local car dealers were invited to sponsor the event. These dealers, which include the New York Acura Association in New York, Honda of Downtown Los Angeles/a>, and Brickell Motors in Miami, promoted the premiere by contacting local leaders, employees and loyal customers and offering them exclusive access to the red carpet event. Each event featured Q&A opportunities with the filmmakers and the case. In Washington D.C. and New York, Ruettiger attended the premieres, where he discussed the impact the film has on him, answered audience questions and reinforced the compelling message delivered via Facebook.
Viewers at the premiere screenings were also encouraged to go on Facebook and like the movie to help promote it to their friends and family. By creating a unique, enjoyable experience for the audience, the filmmakers were able to motivate them to share The Mighty Macs with their followers several days before the movie was released in theaters.
The unique combination of new and older forms of social media marketing helped the film become the #1 top grossing limited release film and #12 overall amongst films released in 3,000+ theaters with giant marketing budgets that dwarf the smaller films released.