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Hunger

Games Promotion Strategy


The use of social media in creating buzz and trilogy momentum

Andrew Carson Jennifer Patton Rui Wang

Lindsay Mueller

Hunger Games Promotion Strategy


Table of Contents
(I.) PROBLEM STATEMENT ...................................................................................................... 3 (II.) MARKET ANALYSIS ........................................................................................................... 3
(a.) Company Background ..................................................................................................................................... 3 (b.) Customers & Marketing Segments ............................................................................................................. 4 (c.) Context - (Product, Price, Place, Financial Analysis) .......................................................................... 5

(III.) CURRENT PROMOTION STRATEGY ................................................................................... 7


(a.) Thematic Positioning ....................................................................................................................................... 7 (b.) Strategy Execution ............................................................................................................................................ 7 (c.) Campaign Strengths & Weaknesses ........................................................................................................... 9

(IV.) RECOMMENDATION: Cross Trilogy Synergy & Momentum ............................................. 11


(a.) Target Untapped Online Consumer Segment ..................................................................................... 11 (b.) Re-engage Established Online Consumer Segment ......................................................................... 12

(V.) IMPLEMENTATION PLAN ................................................................................................. 13 (VI.) Appendix ....................................................................................................................... 15


Exhibit #1: Facebook Page .................................................................................................................................. 15 Exhibit #2: The Hunger Games Adventures (Facebook Game) ......................................................... 15 Exhibit #3: Hunger Games Puzzle ................................................................................................................... 16 Exhibit #4: The Hunger Games Explorer ..................................................................................................... 16 Exhibit #5: Twitter Account ............................................................................................................................... 17 Exhibit #6: Online User Generated District Identification Pass ...................................................... 17 Exhibit #7: Capitol Couture ............................................................................................................................ 18

(VII.) Works Cited .................................................................................................................. 19

(I.) PROBLEM STATEMENT


The Hunger Games film franchise includes four blockbuster movies to be released over the course of four years globally. As a film adaption of a book series, The Hunger Games has an ardent fan base with clear expectations. How can the films production company Lionsgate maintain popularity and momentum between the films using non-traditional media? First this report will examine both Lionsgate and the film industry to better predict the popularity and success of future releases. Then we will focus in on the current unconventional promotion strategy, analyzing its strengths and weaknesses. Finally the report will make recommendations to engage the existing fan base and reach untapped segments by leveraging the trilogys current celebrity.

(II.) MARKET ANALYSIS


(a.) Company Background
Lionsgate Entertainment Corp. is an entertainment company and a leading producer and distributor of many well-known films including 2012s The Hunger Games, which was released globally. The company was formed in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1997 and is now headquartered in Santa Monica, CA (Hoovers). Lionsgate produces TV content and releases films under the Trimark brand. Thus far, Lionsgate has produced more than 1,300 movie and TV titles. In 2012, Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment, the producer of the Twilight series, for $412.5 million hoping to reach more young adult followers. The company is using this new subsidiary to help release The Hunger Games. Fiscally, Lionsgate is the most successful independent film and distribution company in North America and reported a net income increase of 29% in 2012 (Hoovers). Historically, Lionsgate has spent very little on nontraditional

marketing campaigns until the release of The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is being adapted into a film series over the next three years by Lionsgate.

(b.) Customers & Marketing Segments


The Hunger Games book series target a wide demographic audience across all ages and genders, and the films attempted to reach this same segment. According to Reuters, the Hunger Games appealed to more adults and males than "Twilight," which was mostly geared towards teenage girls. Fifty-six percent of The Hunger Games audience was over age 25, and 39 percent was male (Pomerantz). The current marketing campaign of The Hunger Games has targeted consumers in their early teens to early 20s, or Generation Y. Due to the largely online nature of the marketing campaign, Lionsgate has mostly focused on active online social media users. A large portion of this active online base comes from a younger generation that actively shares content and enjoys being the first in their social circle to discover or introduce content. Lionsgate cleverly generated viral campaigns to target this group of customers, which were made to be shared and replicated. For example, fans could post a user-generated district identification pass to their social media accounts (See exhibit 6). Lionsgate effectively turned the end user into the brand ambassador through consumer co-creation and sharing. In addition, Lionsgate built a consistent message across multiple social platforms where users were immersed into a highly stylized world that invited them to engage and share with others. Such targeted and active online users engaged in social reputation management. They were actively looking for ways to differentiate themselves in a digitally flat surface and to add texture to their profile. The campaign played off the fans need to be first to share the original content amongst their social network, unknowingly increasing the virility of the movie engagement pieces.

(c.) Context - (Product, Price, Place, Financial Analysis)


Before the movie was released, there were 9.6 million book copies in circulation and there are now 24 million copies in the U.S. alone. The price to see The Hunger Games is based on the standard of movie tickets that sell at different regions and theaters. The movie brought in over $680 million globally with the third-best debut ever. The first Twilight film serves as a blueprint for this costing only $37 million to make the first film and $110 million to make the fourth film (Pomerantz). The Hunger Games had a much larger production budget of 80 million, but a relatively small marketing budget of only $45 million. Using inexpensive marketing in comparison to the traditional movie marketing, they were able to offset some of the advertising costs with online promotion. The producers will not be able to maintain such a low budget for the sequels, because of rising costs for special effects and higher salaries for the actors. Lionsgate may also have to invest more to keep their fan base interested with new and entertaining social media. Currently in the entertainment industry, audience attendance in movie theaters has leveled off, making it much more difficult to compete for ticket buyers money. This could potentially impact Lionsgate and The Hunger Games franchise if other movie releases conflict with their own. Fortunately, the initial movie release was during a relatively quiet period of the year, when there were no true blockbusters to steal potential moviegoers. This might begin to explain the strong success of the first movie in the franchise. Now that the brand is established and a reasonable fan base exists, the Hunger Games might be in a position to compete with other future more popular films for coveted release dates.

(d.) Competitive Environment

The Lionsgate competitive market includes other leading entertainment companies such as DreamWorks, Imagine Entertainment, and MGM. The Hunger Games franchise faces competition from other fantasy/sci-fi series. Twilight and Harry Potter are mega-franchises that also began as book series and were adapted into films. With the acquisition of Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate no longer competes with the production studio, but the Twilight franchise still poses competition to The Hunger Games films. The latest Twilight film grossed $340.9 million worldwide, and the entire franchise has grossed $2.5 billion in aggregate (Mendelson). The last film in the Harry Potter franchise grossed over $1 billion, making it the 9th movie in history to pass the $1 billion mark. Both Twilight and Harry Potter target similar customer segments: teens to mid-20s. Harry Potter reaches a broader group of consumers, while Twilight focuses on young women by playing up the love triangle in the story. The Hunger Games and Harry Potter franchises avoid confining their fans to one segment by offering elements that appeals to a range of consumers. Both feature a young hero/heroine that breaks through barriers and unifies a population against an oppressive figure. As a longer book series, Harry Potter has an advantage over The Hunger Games in that they can build a relationship with consumers over the course of ten years. In terms of marketing, the Lionsgate marketers likely spent $15 to $20 million less than other Hollywood studios have, using more television advertising for their campaign, said Lionsgate Entertainment Corp Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer (Pomerantz). Lionsgate therefore must compete with the vast amount of television advertisements plus all of the information people are exposed to on Social media sites for their advertising campaigns.

(III.) CURRENT PROMOTION STRATEGY


(a.) Thematic Positioning
The key theme of The Hunger Games series is the struggle for self-preservation in the face of an oppressive authority. The Hunger Games is set in a fictional society called Panem where power is centralized in the Capitol. The tyrannical government pools the resources from the 12 Districts of Panem. The citizens living in the Districts have inadequate food and supplies while the citizens in the Capitol flaunt their wealth with lavish parties. Every year, two children from each District are selected to compete in a fight-to-the-death match while the whole country watches. Katniss Everdeen, the main character in the movie, wins the Games and becomes a symbol for strength, independence, and perseverance. Her identity is reinforced through the symbol of the Mockingjay - the evolutionary result of a failed government experiment. Lionsgate elevates the themes of resistance, competition, and survival with a digital marketing strategy that engages consumers in online communities. Social media platforms allowed fans to select a District to identify with and express their identity as a citizen of Panem. By co-creating content, affiliating in online communities, expressing their online identities, and sharing the message, users become brand ambassadors for the film.

(b.) Strategy Execution


Lionsgate used a very unique strategy to execute their online social media campaign to promote the Hunger Games. The distribution company leveraged social platforms to deliver content to millions of users by establishing: a Capitol Twitter account, Tumblr, Facebook, a competition to put together puzzle pieces of the movie poster, the Hunger Games Explorer site, and YouTube Capitol TV (See Exhibits 1-5). Lionsgate expanded beyond the use of traditional promotion channels for feature blockbuster films by launching a massive digital marketing

campaign. The traditional marketing campaign included the distribution of 80,000 posters, 50 magazine cover stories, and advertising on 3,000 billboards and bus shelters. Of the $45 million total marketing budget, Lionsgate devoted 10-15 percent of its budget to online promotion (Richwine). By generating online hype and promoting the film across platforms, Lionsgate maximized its potential in advertising for the Hunger Games. The senior VP for Marketing, Danielle DePalma, outlined a day-to-day plan for the online campaign that utilized the digital space and social media platforms (Pomerantz). The campaign established a virtual space for the society of Panem. The marketing team registered the domain name .pn to represent the government of Panem, and developed an interactive site entitled thecapitol.pn, where fans can be sorted into Districts. The site thecapitoltour.pn brings the world to life with a virtual tour. The world of Panem is further personified in the digital space with the Tumblr site, Capitol Couture (See Exhibit 7). Capitol Couture updates fans on the latest fashions for characters in the film and holds contests for outfit recommendations. The interactive sites on the .pn domains help users to affiliate with online communities based on the Districts in the films. The Tumblr site reaches a niche segment of young consumers interested in fashion and the Hunger Games, and allows them to create their own content. In addition to the .pn sites, Lionsgate created a Twitter account and Facebook profile to release updates from the Capitol (See Exhibit 5). The Capitol PN Facebook profiles addresses the citizens of Panem and offers sweepstakes to honor a few lucky loyal fans. Fans who have determined their Districts from thecapitol.pn site can like and post on their Districts Facebook pages. The interactive sites and social media profiles afford fans an active role in the online community. Fans digitally express themselves by identifying as different characters and join online communities based on the Districts in the film. By re-posting on their own pages and

re-tweeting official messages, fans join the online conversation and become active brand ambassadors. To further push customers interest, in the 100 days leading up to The Hunger Games opening, Lionsgate released two posters in 100 puzzle pieces across Twitter (See Exhibit 3). Fans engaged in a treasure hunt to assemble the necessary pieces and share information, organically. As a result, The Hunger Games generated more than 3 million conversations on social websites and successfully created the cross film synergies. The Hunger Games fans achieved a sense of community through virtual connections with other fans creating a social affiliation with other fans.

(c.) Campaign Strengths & Weaknesses


There are many strengths coming from the current marketing campaign for The Hunger Games that should be used over the course of the next three films. All of the current social media platforms have been very popular. One example of this comes from the hype built around the fashion in the film. The Twitter and Tumblr accounts were able to show off the Capitol members frivolous wardrobes and the fans were all about the various fashions, creating a subcommunity of die-hard fans. Lionsgate effectively used their small marketing budget of $45 million to generate buzz for the U.S. and U.K. releases of the film. The studio pre-sold distribution rights in foreign markets other than Britain cutting its cost to about $30 million (Richwine). This limited the money Lionsgate will get from global sales but also reduced their risk. Lionsgate will have to continue to spend much more for the marketing budget on the subsequent films. In addition, the films to follow may not carry the same hype that the first film carried, only further driving the need for an even more innovative and well funded marketing campaign. As the story of the trilogy progresses, Lionsgate must be aware of the shift from

emphasizing the novelty of the Games and Panems society to Katniss Everdeen and the rebellion. A weakness however from the current promotion strategy is that it is tailored to the plot of the first two films. The current promotion strategy highlights the novelty of the Games and the futuristic society: the Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr paint a clear image of Panem. As the plot progresses, the book series shifts its focus from the portrayal of the society itself, to the progression of the rebellion. The plot emphasizes the political struggle against the oppressive Capitol. The first two books build Katniss as a symbol of hope, while the last book - which will be made into two films - fully capitalizes on her strength as the Mockingjay. She embodies the spirit of the rebellion, inspires districts to take up arms, and joins the fight in the Capitol itself. In preparation for the release of the first film, the online campaign focused on generating buzz about the society of Panem. The campaign introduced the thematic elements to the film in order to target both fans of the book series and the consumers new to the story. Another weakness in the current promotion strategy is that Lionsgate does not have control of the overall message they are trying to send to its consumers about the film using a marketing strategy based mostly online. As anyone online has the freedom to post about the film, Lionsgate risks diluting their message as users communicate on their online portals. Additionally, the current online strategy only hits a certain demographic of young teens and Millenials. Since the film holds a wide demographic audience (with half of their fans over the age of 25), Lionsgate must figure out a way to continue marketing to the older consumer demographic. This also leads to the point that Lionsgate is going to have to find a way to maintain interest in the film through its marketing strategy over the course of the next three films, as people will lose interest in its current social media strategy over time.

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(IV.) RECOMMENDATION: Cross Trilogy Synergy & Momentum


(a.) Target Untapped Online Consumer Segment
As discussed above, one major weakness in the current promotion strategy is its focus on specific social media platforms. The promotion campaign utilized sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr - all websites frequented by a younger demographic. However with the release the Hunger Games, 56% of viewership was over the age of 25 - a pivotal age that marks a change in the use of social media (Richwine). This suggests that with the current strategy the 25+-year-old consumer segment is not being meaningfully engaged, as they tend not to be active online social users. Lionsgate should develop a supplementary promotion campaign that directly targets this largely untapped segment, as it represents such a large portion of viewership. Recommendations to target the segment include: further developing the general Internet Explorer fan site, diversifying social platforms, and promoting the story itself. Currently the Internet Explorer fan site offers a character-free platform for consumers to talk and interact with behind the scenes content from the films. Free from Capitol personality or requirements to share content, this website offers the films untapped demographic a more palatable, traditional interaction with the trilogy. Lionsgate should maintain this website and promote it further to the correct segments. Those fans that enjoy following @TheCapitolPN Twitter handle, which posts in character, will most likely not enjoy following the Internet Explorer website. Another recommendation for the trilogy is to diversify engagement across non-social media websites. This would mean developing a highly interactive banner style advertisement on a websites such as Amazon.com or The New York Times. Apple Inc. designed a highly talked about banner advertisement, which Lionsgate could attempt to emulate. Upon mouse click, this banner ad 2.0 played a short video and connected to a second banner ad on the

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screen.1 This strategy was visually engaging and disrupted the viewer from normal browsing instantly attracting their attention. This strategy was so effective it even garnered media attention. Lionsgate could easily replicate such a highly engaging banner ad and give it a Capitol theme on a traditional site such as Amazon. This would be a highly effective way of engaging non-social media users in their own online space, immersing the segment into the world of the Hunger Games. Lastly, Lionsgate should work to promote the book series with the untapped 25+ year old demographic. By promoting book sales, Lionsgate would be advocating for more people to become invested into the story of the trilogy. As the book holds a wider audience than the current promotion strategy, the books themselves could serve as a powerful potential marketing device. A targeted advertisement for the books on Amazon, for example, would be a simple way to engage untapped consumers through the raw power of the story.

(b.) Re-engage Established Online Consumer Segment


In addition to developing a supplementary campaign, Lionsgate needs to work on reengaging their main, established online segment. The momentum campaign should focus on targeting the segment specifically between movie releases, when fan engagement is at its lowest. It is recommended that around this lull period Lionsgate release a completely new campaign with accompanying engagement pieces. With the subsequent movies shifting emphasis from the Games to rebellion against the capitol of Panem, Lionsgate should capitalize on this plot shift and release an online revolution persona to mirror the already existing capital persona. This strategy would entail creating an entire cyber character of the revolution that would exist across all online platforms, as does the Capitol persona. Lionsgate would need to develop a new 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8YG6cL3ngY 12

Tumblr, Twitter handle, Facebook page, YouTube page and website. The Twitter handle would release information in character, perhaps sending out updates on the progress of the revolution. The Facebook page could release engagement pieces, such as the ability to register with the revolution and take part in overthrowing the Capitol. The YouTube channel could, for example, release video diaries on the life of a rebel and progress of the revolution. This second online personality opens up another entire world of interaction - between the Capitol and the revolution. Lionsgate could take advantage of this marketing opportunity by having a conversation between Twitter handles, for example. There could be a virtual back-andforth argument where both virtual personas antagonize the other, completely bringing the story of the movies to life. The Capitol persona, across all platforms, could attempt to undermine the revolution, perhaps releasing wanted photographs of fans. On the other hand, the revolution persona could attack the Capitols opulent way of life, criticizing the Capitol fashions Tumblr page. The opportunities for creating rich interaction are endless and spawn greater fan involvement. Fans could even be forced to choose sides, forming alliances with the capitol or the revolutionary districts. This would allow fans to identify further with the culture of the Hunger Games universe. With this interaction, there are multiple opportunities to develop minicampaigns to drive sudden spurts of activity and awareness. Such mini-campaigns could be used for film releases or any other important dates for the film trilogy.

(V.) IMPLEMENTATION PLAN


In order to implement the recommended strategies for Lionsgate to reach the 25+ year old consumer segment with its online marketing social media tools as well as re-engaging their main established online segment, Lionsgate should implement the following recommendations over the next two years to maintain the momentum and popularity over the course of the four films. In 13

four months, Lionsgate should establish their online revolution persona to mirror the already existing capital persona. With the next movie being released in late November that begins to allude to the revolution in the plot, Lionsgate must build up the hype for the second movie in time for the release of the film. In the next four months, Lionsgate can also continue promoting the book sales through targeted reviews online and advertising on Amazon. In six months, Lionsgate should display interactive banner style advertisements on Amazon.com or the New York Times. This advertising will reach the untapped online consumer segment in time for Catching Fire. In one year, Lionsgate should be ready to release the full online cyber character of the revolution existing across all platforms in order to prepare consumers and raise the hype for the release of the third film Mockingjay. This film is all about the revolution and these online interactions between the Capitol and the revolution will further re-engage consumers to want to see the film. In eighteen months from now, or the beginning of the year 2015, Lionsgate should increase the final momentum for the film with the promotion of the Internet Explorer website to the 25+ consumer market. In addition, they should continue heavily promoting the book sales and release Facebook engagement pieces for fans to register with the revolution to overthrow the Capitol, which follows closely with the plot of the book. Based on previous estimates of the Lionsgate marketing budget from the first film being $45 million, with 10 to 15 percent going toward their online marketing strategy, Lionsgate should expand their budget for the subsequent films by another 5-8 percent in order to accommodate the new online advertising and promotion of the film. Lionsgate should continue its traditional advertising, but divert 5-10% more of their resources to the online marketing campaign as more consumers are responding favorably to these new creative approaches.

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(VI.) Appendix
Exhibit #1: Facebook Page

Exhibit #2: The Hunger Games Adventures (Facebook Game)

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Exhibit #3: Hunger Games Puzzle

Exhibit #4: The Hunger Games Explorer


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Exhibit #5: Twitter Account

Exhibit #6: Online User Generated District Identification Pass

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Exhibit #7: Capitol Couture

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(VII.) Works Cited



Meg James April. "CBS, Lionsgate Tap Brad Schwartz to Program TV Guide Network." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 02 May 2013. <http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-tv-guide-network-bradschwartz-20130415,0,2141399.story>. Karpel, Ari. "Inside "The Hunger Games" Social Media Machine." Co.Create. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013. <http://www.fastcocreate.com/1680467/inside-the-hunger-games-social-media-machine>. "Lionsgate Entertainment Corp." Hoover's. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2013. <http://subscriber.hoovers.com/H/company360/overview.html?companyId=57849000000000>. Mendelson, Scott. "Weekend Box Office: Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2 Scores $141 Million, Lincoln Impresses with $21 Million, Skyfall Is Now the Biggest 007 Film Ever." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 18 Nov. 2012. Web. 02 May 2013. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-mendelson/weekend-box-office111812_b_2154931.html>. Pomerantz, Dorothy. "'Hunger Games' Trilogy Will Have Four Movies." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 10 July 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2013. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorothypomerantz/2012/07/10/hunger-games-trilogy-will-havefour-movies/>. Richwine, Lisa. "Hunger Games Gorges on $214 Million Global Debut." Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 25 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/25/entertainment-usboxoffice-idUSBRE82O0AS20120325>.

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