Today, I’m handing over to my friend film journalist and VOD marketing expert Corrina Antrobus for a guest post. Corrina worked for Virgin Media and Blinkbox and has the skinny on how to make your film stand out on VOD platforms.  Take it away!

As a film journalist and movies manager at a few of the UK’s leading VOD platforms, I’ve been on the receiving end of all sorts of marketing strategies. From editorial content for cinematic releases, to pitches from all the major distributors with the hope of elevated promotion of their film come the VOD release.

When comparing the marketing efforts of a theatrical release to that of VOD, I’ve been surprised at the sometimes dismissive nature towards the latter. As purse strings tighten and digital platforms increase, it’s time to take VOD marketing off the back burner.

I’ve sat in countless slate presentations with studios, channels and distributors which basically involved watching a lot of movie trailers. We would then brainstorm the creative ways we can promote the films most relevant to our audience. Here’s some tips on the kinds of things that helped us to help them…

Have family friendly assets

The major VOD outlets spend a lot of time and money on creating trustworthy household names. They’ve got brand personality, and are polite about it. They will not risk jeopardizing their brand for the sake of a sweary trailer or gun-toting artwork. That’s not to say they won’t promote 18s, of course they will, but one of  the major companies I worked for couldn’t publish pics of actors pointing guns at the camera on their EPG (Electronic Programming Guide), and anything too blood-soaked was a no-no. Be prepared with trailers that don’t swear, have too much blood or guts and have artwork that’s rated PG even if your film is not.

Use your talent

If you’ve managed to score a well-known actor in your film, don’t just use them for red carpets and big fonts on the posters. You need them for the digital release too.

My first question after each trailer in the slate meetings usually went something like this:

‘Do you have access to cast for interviews?’

The answer usually went something like this:  

‘No. ‘Mrs Talent’ is now out of the country shooting ‘X’.  

It felt very much like the actors had already washed their hands of the project and wanted no more to do with it.

Interviews with the cast, cooperation from the lead talent on social media, shutouts or exclusive new interviews (new being the operative word rather than rehashed from the cinematic release), always made us happy. It made us feel loved when we were presented with named shoutouts from talent. For example a clip of the main cast saying ‘Hi you can watch me in The Next Big Movie on Virgin Movies now…’  was something we could use on our liberate channel or as a social media sting. However, these can be a bit dry and if they look bored can have a detrimental effect to the sale of the movie. Why not have them tell some jokes, tease in a spoiler… just get creative.

Have some VOD exclusives ready

In an ideal world – and some of the best distributors did do this may I add – there would be content reserved for VOD and VOD only. Much in the same way you have DVD extras, extended versions and outtakes to help sell the physical copy, it would be great to see content reserved just for digital and not available on the DVD. There needs to be incentive to digital further than the fact you can watch at home and doesn’t take up space on the shelf. Make them exclusive to the digital outlet and they’ll be your best friend.

Another favourite was to offer a try before you buy clip but don’t let this backfire on you. If the platform only offers the capabilities to host the first ten minutes and your opening sequence is dull in comparison to the rest of your film, don’t do it.

Work with us from theatrical to VOD.

One of the major companies I worked for had a successful trailer app and a well-received blog area. Creating noise about your film during the cinematic release on the digital outlet is beneficial. It means their audiences are fully aware of the title come VOD and not everyone gets a chance to make it to the cinema. Provide high-res trailers (exclusive ones would be even better!), screening invites for the purpose of editorial reviews (we also like premieres!) and tagging opportunities on the movie posters. It was always a pleasure to have our four/five-star review and brand name plastered up on the marketing.

Picture Credit: As I Lay Dying

Agree, disagree, questions, thoughts? Hit me up in the comments.

You can follow Corrina Antrobus on Twitter @corrinacorrina, where she regularly cracks me up. She also writes on movies at her site http://corrinacorrina.net

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