October 27, 2009

Engineering demand

Creating demand for Paranormal Activity.

Creating demand for Paranormal Activity.

Have you heard about Paranormal Activity, the low-budget horror movie that has been terrifying audiences over the past few weeks? It was reportedly produced for $15,000! But the very strategic marketing paid off as well as a multimillion-dollar campaign.

First came very scary trailers, followed by updated trailers with footage of terrified moviegoers at a sneak preview of the film. This was followed by a limited release in a handful of college towns around the country.

Then came the really clever part: what appeared to be a grassroots campaign to get the movie distributed nationwide. By teasing us, the filmmakers created a public demand for the movie. They drove us — both in commercials and online — to eventful.com, where we could demand that the movie open in our hometown theaters. The site had a real-time running tally of votes and bragged that Paranormal Activity is the first movie to ever be “demanded” by “we the people.” We could also show friends and associates that we supported the “movement” by spreading the word via Twitter, Facebook, a MySpace widget or links in emails.

The best part? It worked — whether or not they ever needed the votes to obtain a national release. How’s that for creating artificial demand? I wonder how future marketing campaigns will incorporate Paranormal Activity’s grassroots web marketing.