would you free climb for a free film?

To promote its documentary about rock climbing, National Geographic has built a website urging people who want to watch it to do so. For every meter they ascend, Nat Geo unlocks a portion of the film “Free Solo” they can watch for free.

Why it’s hot:

Theoretically, this sounds like a great idea. People who climb, might be interested enough in a movie about people who climb, to go climb as a result. But, REI urging us to “Opt Outside” is one thing, asking us to climb a rock to unlock free content seems a bit another. This reminds us we should really think about the value exchange we’re providing in our marketing today. Is what we want worth what we’re asking people to give for it?

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Welcome to the Island

As part of it’s marketing campaign, Kong: Skull Island has establish “Skull Island” on google maps. With 200 pictures and almost 9,000 reviews this stunt is a fun, and interactive way to engage with the movie.

Kong Skull Island Google Maps Promo

Kong Skull Island Google Map

Skull Island

Why it’s hot: 

  • As strategists we are always looking to engage with our audiences in a way that makes them feel as if they are a part of the brand experience, rather than being “talked at”
  • Utilizing a common platform to bring something new in marketing

But did it work? 

Kind of

They achieved some decent PR coverage and great engagement but the experience falls flat after the initial “cool” factor wears off. However, other films such as Fantastic Beasts and where to Find Them and Star Wars: the Force Awakens also partnered with  google to much greater effect with greater pay off based on their cult followings.

 

WickBot

To prep for the release of John Wick: 2 (a movie so bad, it’s good), Lionsgate rolled out a chat bot to grant fans access into the secret life of assassins, tying in with the movies thematic. The interactive experience involves a SMS based chatbot that uses AI and image recognition tech to let fans chat with a “master assassin”, who ropes you into stopping John Wick thru a series of texts that is akin to a “choose your own adventure” story. The story eventually fills you in on a new assassination plot, involving key characters from the film and culminates as an entrance into a sweepstakes for a trip to Rome.

As far as film marketing goes, I think this is an interesting evolution of the Ex-Machina Tinder stunt from last year.

Why its hot?

  • While chat bots continue to make headlines this year, this is different from what I’ve seen. Brands usually take a customer service route for bots.
  • The implications this can have for brand storytelling, and creating a more immersive experience. Here, they were able to replicate the “undercover agent” type of experience.
  • At the simplest level, it hones in on the insight that most of the population uses mobile for messaging above other things. There’s no need for an external app or download, it’s seamlessly integrated into the day-to-day.