In the entertainment industry, winning awards is profitable. Best Picture winners typically earn an additional $14-$15 million in revenue, and sometimes even more. In addition to the prestige of winning awards, even being nominated generates buzz and leads to additional revenue. Fox Searchlight knew that Birdman needed a memorable integrated strategy that would not only raise awareness among consumers, but also reach entertainment industry influencers whose regard had the power to affect major award nominations and wins.
Knowing that they had an Oscar-worthy film on their hands, Fox Searchlight had two goals for the Birdman campaign. The first was to generate interest and awareness among consumers to promote the release of the movie. The second was to sustain buzz over Birdman’s multiple nominations, with the goal of reaching an audience that had influence over key award decisions.
As the #1 media platform in the Entertainment Capital of the World, the Los Angeles Times was key to accomplishing both of these goals.
Birdman opened with a limited release in October of 2014 before opening to a wider in November. Because of this, a key challenge was generating a lot of buzz in its two initial markets, and then capitalizing on the critical acclaim the film received by spreading the message to a wider audience. In addition, because of the need to generate awards buzz, the campaign also had to reach an entertainment industry audience.
The first stage of the campaign around the film release consisted of both print and digital, targeted to Los Angeles and New York. The campaign consisted of:
- Print: Full page and half page ads
- Print: Skybox/front strip combo
- Digital: Entertainment section-front takeovers
- Digital: Responsive barker units unique to LATimes.com
- Digital: Sponsorship the Entertainment Visual Browse feature on LATimes.com
- Mobile: Entertainment section sponsorships and takeovers targeted to Los Angeles and New York
The second stage focused on building awareness among key influencers. Additional tactics employed were:
- Wrapping The Envelope section of the Los Angeles Times with a co-branded Birdman wrap to coincide with a key industry event: The Golden Globes. The Envelope is distributed widely in Los Angeles and read by entertainment enthusiasts and key industry influencers.
- Distributing an attention-getting lenticular unit along with The Envelope just two weeks prior to the Academy Awards.
The entire campaign, both print and digital, was enhanced by the Los Angeles Times editorial staff’s coverage of Birdman. Additionally, Michael Keaton was featured in Hollywood Sessions’ Best Actor episode, in which Oscar nominees are interviewed in a roundtable session with LA Times entertainment reporters.
Birdman’s multi-faceted marketing campaign resulted in multiple nominations, awards, and over $100 million in revenue for the film. Key results to highlight include:
During its limited release in just four theaters in Los Angeles and New York, Birdman generated revenue of over $100,000 per theater (earning a Top 20 ranking in all-time per-theater revenue), pointing to the success of a market-targeted print and digital campaign
Throughout its 6-month marketing campaign, there was a consistent amount of buzz about the film across many channels
Birdman won the Academy Award for Best Picture, anecdotally pointing to the success of tactics employed that targeted entertainment industry influencers.