10 Movie Promo Sites that Create a Rich User Experience
I always say, nobody does it better than the people who make movies … except the people who sell movies. And part of what THOSE people do is design great websites.
Most movie promo sites are pretty simple. They go for the money shot, which is a big splashy background and a mercilessly enticing two minute edit of the movie - the preview trailer. These kind of sites work well. They’re bold and tightly focused.
But some movie marketers go the extra mile. They work to build these promo websites into something worth talking about (in addition to the movie). Which gives them more levers to pull in the viral-social marketing arena to help promote the movie.
Let’s look at a few of the movies that decided to make a little more than just a splash …
Multiple Website Promo Campaigns
J.J. Abrams and the Bad Roboteers executed a brilliant viral web strategy by creating over a dozen websites for the movie Cloverfield. These included a Japanese drink site, and a website whose address was the film’s release date. They also created a collection of peronal sites and MySpace pages featuring the movie’s characters as if they were real people.
This internet Easter egg hunt created a lot of buzz and even resulted in people finding supposed Cloverfield sites that actually had nothing to do with the movie or the promotion.
District 9 has a couple of interesting websites that tell different sides of the social struggle the movie portrays. On one side they have the corporate view, and on another they have the mock political anti-corporate blog.
Of course, there’s a little more to the story than these sites are telling. And it’ll take some Maths from Outer Space to figure out what.
For 2012, the end-of-the-world adventure, we find two extra websites to build up the hype, entertain, and maybe even make you ask “what if”?
Woody Harrelson is a quirky doomsday video blogger on one site. And for those who believe there’s always a way out of a tough situation, you can play the lottery at the Institute for Human Continuity. Yep, apparently level-headed scientists already see doomsday on the horizon. And they’ve got a plan!
Raising Support for a Cause
Important world issues are the focus of a lot of documentary films. They don’t just want to get the word out there. They want people to become aware of and get involved with the issue.
On the Inconvenient truth website you can see how your life impacts global climate change, and how you lessen your carbon footprint. Educating users about an issue and providing solutions to big problems is a great form of interaction.
Food Inc is another documentary. And what’s interesting is their website is part of a LARGER site that’s all about learning, sharing, and taking action on a whole host of issues that affect the world today.
And again, it’s about getting involved and bringing personal responsibilty to the table. They provide a host of resources for you to explore and have worked to create a real sense of community around the issues.
Creating Rich Interactivity
When it comes to interactive movie promotional sites, nobody does it better than Homer. The Simpsons Movie site lets you wander through the town of Springfield to explore all kinds of fun and interactive things. Duoh!
For the stalker thriller Obsessed the film makers have come up with a great practical joke website. Upload a picture of a buddy and type in a few personal tidbits about them and BOOM … the site creates a video for your friend … from a crazy obsessive stalker.
First, you get recruited as a member of the Federal Cyber Crimes Task Force. Then your computer is hacked by a web 2.0 serial killer, and you have to pit your wits against him in a series of challenges.
Most interactive websites have a handful of bells and whistles for you to explore in whatever order you choose. This is a great example of linear interaction where the website guides users through a step by step storyline.
The main Buy-n-Large website redirects to the official WALL-E movie site now, but there’s still a few pages up you can go see. The site is (was) basically a mock big-box retailer from the future.
There’s a massive opportunity with this kind of website that I’ll discuss in the wrap-up.
Some movies, like Superbad, just seem to inspire creative people. There are several websites where you can upload a picture and get your very own McLovin fake ID. Simple and entertaining interactivity.
As far as I know, none of the sites are affiliated with the movie or it’s creators. And this just might be the ultimate example of designing interactive user experience - an experience, designed by the fans.
The documentary promo sites I showed you have a natural ability to take ideas and make them a real part of people’s lives. They do that by making you ask your own questions, by suggesting solutions to big problems, and by encouraging social dialog.
From a commercial perspective, what if Disney turned their Buy-n-Large promo site into a REAL ecommerce website; focused on selling things that are science and tech related? Things like the science gizmos and robots you find in hobby shops and assemble yourself.
We’ll start to see more of that kind of thing in the future … where these mock promo websites become real.
Movies take something that’s often, not real (fiction), and they make it as real as possible to entertain us. But the best lie contains some truth. And at some point the lie can become real.
When people get involved, an idea can become reality.
And a great way to get people involved is to design a rich user experience.