I spent this morning at the Cast & Crew screening of Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging, at the invitation of director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham, Bride & Prejudice). I met her and her husband Paul on Thursday to discuss the forthcoming development of her own website, and she suggested that I toddle along to the screening this morning. So I did.
We've been working hard on the movie's marketing campaign over the past year or so, so I'd already glimpsed quite a lot of the characters in some shape or form. I was even fortunate enough to spend a day on set back in November of last year, filming a selection of original scripted material for use as part of our campaign. I blogged about the experience at the time, acknowledging how unusual it is for marketers to be given this kind of creative latitude so early in the process.
The film's still not out for another three and a half weeks, but we can already see our approach paying off in terms of the momentum the campaign has built up, at a point in the process where some online campaigns are still only just getting going.
Our long lead destination was an official Bebo profile we created for the character of Georgia. Bebo is traditionally very strong for exactly the same demographic as the book's core fans; teen girls, basically. Our intention was to harness Bebo's social networking tools to build a micro-community of fans and early adopters around the original content we'd produced, released over the course of the campaign as webisodes. Last time I looked, six months on, Georgia had over 4,000 friends, and the profile had been viewed almost 60,000 times.
Our strategy for the latter stages of the campaign has been to look at how we can widen this core awareness and anticipation into mainstream appeal. Certainly the official website we developed - one of my favourite examples of PPC's work from the seven years I've been there - is seeing levels of traffic suggesting that we've already succeeded in doing so.
Add to this the official widget (up there at the top of this post), a MySpace page for the band in the movie, The Stiff Dylans, and the forthcoming online advertising campaign (including a direct spend on Bebo) and you have the key constituents of what I immodestly consider to be a hugely progressive online marketing campaign.
What it really reinforces for me, which may seem blindingly obvious but is so often forgotten, is that online isn't something to sit behind the more traditional strands of the marketing process, such as the production of the trailer, or the design of a poster.
As a director who is prepared to entrust her movie into the hands of the distributor - and their agency - at an early stage, Gurinder is in good company; both JJ Abrams and Zack Snyder have shown that this can be an effective approach when applied to major Hollywood releases. As their currency continues to grow, and a generation of more traditional directors fall away, expect more online campaigns to start the moment a movie goes into production, and end only once the last sequel has been made, and the last DVD sold.