Essential Film Marketing Activities

Every film has its own unique combination of marketing activities and its the distributor’s job – often in collaboration with the producer – to define these elements and communicate the message of the film accordingly. The main challenge for a distributor is to translate the awareness of a film into a “want to see” and ultimately a “want to pay for” attitude.

The following includes a list of marketing and promotion activities that can be employed:

1)     Posters

Communicate the appeal of the film: its stars/director, theme, genre, tagline, quotes, and festival awards. The objective is to create a poster that is effective, not necessarily something that is aesthetically attractive. For example, the style of a poster taps into audience memory and they are sold immediately on what is recognisable and relatable – such as the romantic comedy posters below.

2)     Trailers

Trailers are the best marketing tools to convince an audience to buy a film and are very cost effective. A trailer is tailored to tell the story that you want to sell to the audience. It stands or falls on engagement, because the audience should be able to articulate feelings about the film, generate word of mouth and express a desire to see the film.

Teaser trailers are often released first to build initial awareness before the release of the official trailer. More recently, experimentation with ‘tweezers’ has occurred with short, six second Vine clips. Wolverine Vine is one of the first examples of this technique.

3)     Media Advertising

One of the most expensive activities when marketing a film, however can be highly effective in getting the message of the film out. TV is effective in reaching the mass audience. Advertising on the radio is more often used during the summer. Media advertising can also be outdoors (bus shelters, walls, etc.) or in newspapers and magazines. Online advertising has emerged in recent years and social media sites such as Facebook offer strategically targeted ads.

4)     Publicity

Publicity involves informing the public of the film through media coverage. Films can generate free publicity, editorials and reviews both in print and online. Other techniques include; special press screenings, sneak previews, junkets, and premieres.

Another method can involve creative partnerships – where you team up with a service or organisation for mutually beneficial promotional activities. In the UK ‘ElevenFifyFive’ are an organisation that specialise in connecting film with brands.

5)     Digital Marketing

Online has of course become very important and offers opportunities to speak directly with your target audience. Activities such as blogs, social media, related sites, SEO and transmedia can be optimised to drive awareness. However don’t use a platforms for the sake of it, choose the most pertinent spaces by researching where the films audience reside online.

Tools such as Google Analytics and the data provided from social media platforms can help determine how a campaign is performing. For example Facebook is a good indicator for the size of the audience interested in the film and Twitter is all about buzz, a very good indicator of whether or not people like the film.

However numbers aren’t everything. Producers should look for value in a fanbase, not quantity. The quality of a fanbase comes from its relationship with the project which is tied inexorably to the message being communicated about the film.


  • Trailers                                    6-10 weeks
  • Posters/standees             6-10 weeks
  • Free Publicity                     4 weeks
  • Flyers/promotions          4 weeks
  • Outdoor advertising      1-2 weeks
  • TV/Radio                               5-10 days
  • Ads in newspapers          on release
  • Internet                                  asap

Thanks for reading, hope it was useful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s