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Social Media Marketing Lessons from “The Hunger Games”

Social Media Marketing Lessons from “The Hunger Games”

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The “Hunger Games” trilogy, a series of movies based on books written by Suzanne Collins, is one of the few to leverage the full power of social media and shows how to successfully include it in the marketing strategy.

The action takes place in a future where the current territory of the US is divided in 12 poor districts, ruled by the powerful Capitol, in a political regime of totalitarianism and terror. The first movie shows Katniss’, the main heroine, struggle to survive in a televised competition show from which only one person gets out alive.

Benefiting from a $45 million dollars budget, the marketing campaign for the first movie lasted 10 months, showing that it is never too early to start encouraging the fans’ engagement. Initially, a teaser website was launched “The capitol.pn” – which users had to login to with Twitter or Facebook accounts in order to use it. When the reveal happened, people were assigned to random districts, just like in the movie. For these districts then elections for mayors were held, along with other viral campaigns. The strategy is described in more detail here: http://mashable.com/2011/08/31/hunger-games-viral/

We could say that the marketers created a whole world in social media inspired by that in the books/films so that people could familiarize themselves with the culture and the reality depicted in the series.  Ways to decline this reality were multiple: they created a game – “The Hunger Games Adventures”, which could be played on Facebook as well, set up distinct Facebook pages for every one of the 12 districts, customizing it with characteristics for each of them, they also created “Capitol Couture” – a website dedicated to characters’ fashion.

The “mockingjay” logo of the movie became iconic in its own right, a true symbol of the franchise, which started with the unveiling of the movie poster – a mockingjay pin on fire at Comic Con 2011. It was then turned by fans into an easily sharable gif, which sparked discussions of the possibility for interactive movie posters from now on.

Just like for “Game of Thrones”, the audience created its own marketing materials, contributing significantly at the success of the marketing campaign.  This behavior was encouraged by thanking fans, offering exclusivities, discounts, in order for them to share content with friends and by asking for their feedback and opinions. By creating these types of communication, it does not even feel like marketing, it all seems organic.

The marketers even hesitated on either to advertise on the SuperBowl, fearing that their target audience was not there. Instead, they focused on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube, contests, games, wikis, etc. The strategy paid off as during the weekend of the premiere, The Hunger Games generated over 3 million conversations on the social web. The tickets for the movie were mostly sold out before its premiere.

The second movie of the franchise – Mockingjay – is to premiere in November, but already the talk about it is very intensive. The trailer was just presented at Comic – Con and has already stirred many reactions in social media (it already has 27 million views, in just a couple of days since its launch). They are currently teasing pictures of characters, along with pictures of the infamous wedding dress, which, book lovers already know, turns into a “mockingjay costume”.

The movie also benefits from the media interest for the most recent female Oscar winner, Jennifer Lawrence. It also helps that she is playing a likeable heroine, a role model – independent, brave, a leader, someone that young girls can look up to.

 We can’t wait to see what tricks the marketers will pull out their sleeves for the second installment of the series! And don’t forget: “May the odds be ever in your favor”.

Photo Credit: KendraMillerPhotography via Compfight cc

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