This morning Twentieth Century Fox and Metacafe are announcing "The Thirty Second Film Contest," which challenges contestants to put together a winning thirty second spot for the epic film "Australia," opening on November 26th. Though not yet fully live, I like the direction of this initiative a lot, and believe it provides an innovative example of how to blend traditional film marketing techniques with broadband-enabled audience participation.
Contestants visit the promotional site hosted at Metacafe, a large aggregator of short-form entertainment, to obtain film-related assets provided by Fox. These can be augmented with the contestant's own music, voiceovers, sound effects and artwork to create a highly original entry. Entries are submitted through Metacafe and will be judged by the folks at Fox and Bazmark (Australia director Baz Luhrman's company).
The contest is actually meant to be quite serious and semi-professional; Luhrmann has also created a whole library of videos about film-making, which a student of the art can use to help shape his/her entry, or just watch to learn. The grand prize is enticing: a trip for two to Australia, another to NY for a private screening/meeting with Luhrmann and inclusion of the winning entry on the film's eventual DVD.
The Australia contest builds on a similar one that Metacafe and Universal offered for "The Bourne Ultimatum" last year, which I reviewed enthusiastically here. The concept also follows on previous posts I've done about the value of what I call "purpose-driven user generated video" or "YouTube 2.0" opportunities for users to create videos that have actual business value. I continue to believe that user-submitted videos which go beyond goofball entertainment are a huge area of broadband industry opportunity.
The Australia contest is a winner on multiple levels as it; creates pre-release buzz for the film, allows fans and aspiring artists to get involved and showcase their work, taps into a large base of original (and free!) ideas to help promote the movie, and introduces a fresh, updated approach to film marketing that is sorely needed for differentiation.
This week I've been talking a lot about engagement and why it's so critical in the broadband era. While media and entertainment companies must always focus on driving ratings points or a big opening day box office, the ways to do so are changing. The key change I see is that films, TV programs and other entertainment must become part of a larger experience - complete with multifaceted engagement opportunities - rather than just a one-off moment of audience consumption. Broadband enables this shift in a big way. More marketers need to take advantage of the possibilities.
What do you think? Post a comment now!
In the last few days there's been a lot of attention paid to Apple's deals with Disney, Fox, Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal, Sony, Lionsgate, Imagine and First Look Studios giving iTunes day-and-date access to these studios' current films.
As an advocate of the broadband medium, naturally I'm delighted to see studios put broadband distribution on a par with DVD release. The deals should rightly be interpreted as another step in the maturation of the broadband medium.
However, these deals, in and of themselves, do not constitute a game-changing event for paid downloads of feature films. That's because until there's mass connectivity between PCs and TVs and much-improved portability, consumers' willingness to buy is going to be significantly muted. Consumers' inability to easily watch a feature film on their widescreen TV or easily grab-these- movies-to-go (as with DVDs) are a huge drag on the download value proposition, easily swamping its new convenience benefits.
I believe that lack of mass connectivity between PCs and TVs is the last major hurdle to unlocking broadband video's ultimate potential. It is also the firewall that's preserving a lot of incumbents' business models (cable operators, broadcasters, etc.). No question, Apple and iTunes are powerful marketing partners for the studios, and their download revenue will certainly increase from its current modest base. But not even Apple's mighty brand (and certainly not its anemic AppleTV device) is enough to compensate for broadband's current deficiency.
The good news is that there's a frenzy of energy directed at solving the PC-to-TV connectivity issue. Though no approach has yet broken through, I'm still betting it's only a matter of time until one does. When that happens, studios will reap the major benefits. Until then, these deals represent progress, but not game-changing events.