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Universal Pictures heightens film awareness via mobile

Universal Pictures is building up hype for its “This is 40” film with a campaign that mixes in commerce, social media, SMS and video to target movie buffs.

Universal Studios has relied heavily on mobile ads in the past year as a way to drive pre-sale tickets and awareness for films. The ads are running within the Flixster iPhone application.

“Mobile connectivity is continuing to grow as a means for our audience to interact with upcoming releases,” said Doug Neil, senior vice president of digital marketing at Universal Pictures, Universal City, CA.

“We want to make sure it is as easy as possible for fans to access tickets and more information through their mobile devices,” he said.

Multiple mediums
The Universal Pictures ads are running as interstitial ads when users open the Flixster iPhone app.

Users are encouraged to tap on the ad to watch a film trailer.

From there, consumers are directed to a landing page that pulls in the film’s mobile site.

The site is set up with tabs that run along the bottom of the screen that give users information about the film.

The extras tab for instance lets users buy pre-sale tickets of the film from Fandango’s mobile site.

Additionally, users can sign up for SMS alerts leading up to the film. Consumers who opt-in to Universal Studios’ SMS program will receive one SMS message per week.

Not only is it important to drive pre-sale tickets, but by using SMS Universal Pictures is able to create a deeper one-on-one relationship with consumers.

Consumers can watch either a theatrical trailer or teaser from the film via the mobile site.

Additionally, users can learn about the plot and browse through photos of the cast.

Buttons for Facebook and Twitter are also prominently promoted on the company’s mobile site to let users follow along with what others are saying about the film.

By using a variety of mediums, Universal Pictures is showing that it is thinking outside the box on how to connect with consumers leading up to a film launch.

“Mobile is an integral part of every campaign,” Mr. Neil said.

“We are mobile search-enabled, have mobile sites, build mobile apps and extend our ads to mobile platforms,” he said.

Mobile movies
Universal Studios is no newbie to mobile advertising.

Recently, the company built up hype for the film “The Man with the Iron Fists,” which used a combination of social media, video and content to drive awareness for the film before it hit theaters (see story).

Additionally, Universal Studios turned to mobile advertising this summer to promote its film “Savages” (see story).

In this case, using interstitial ads is a great way for Universal to keep the film top of mind for consumers while they are inside an app with relevant content.

“This is an extremely smart move for film studios to offer more than just a way to buy tickets thereby creating a new box office high,” said Isabella Lin, content director at Appitalism, New York.

Ms. Lin is not affiliated with FedEx. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

“To put it plainly, the ultimate purpose of the film shooting is to create a new record receipts at the box office,” Ms. Lin said. “This campaign includes an SMS opt-in option, social media and video and will absolutely and exactly work for film studios to bring in more box office business and traffic.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York