There are many things to be learned from the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s It: everyone floats in the sewer, the power of friendship makes anything possible and never, under any circumstances, trust a clown.
It wasn’t just an entertaining movie, it was also a massive financial success and full-on cultural phenomenon. There are many ways you can look to It as inspiration. We strongly advise against luring children into the sewer while wearing a clown costume, but there are other tips you can take from It to apply to your own marketing.
Don’t Be Afraid of Change
Like any adaption, IT needed to depart from the source material to make a workable film. The new movie took a few drastic leaps from the source material, with the two largest changes being the setting of the story and design of the monster. It had a massive challenge for its main monster, Pennywise – the 1990 It miniseries already had an established, iconic look for Pennywise. Instead of trying to replicate that design, the new film flipped it on its head to make it more relevant for 2017. The new costume echoes traces of Medieval, Renaissance, Elizabethan and Victorian eras to create the sense of an ageless being.
Their redesign clearly paid off – to the tune of a record-breaking $13.5 million opening night for a horror film. The success of Pennywise proves that there’s a benefit to taking a risk and making a change. If your online marketing feels stale, it’s time to make a big move and switch things up.
Tap into the Power of Nostalgia
IT decided to shift the first section of the story from the ’50s to the ’80s to monstrous success. The shift ended up riding on the nostalgia momentum generated by the heavily ’80s-inspired Stranger Things (which itself was inspired by the 1990 It miniseries – talk about coming full circle). Audiences also noted similarities to other ’80s classics Stand By Me and The Goonies and responded positively. All this nostalgia appealed directly to the Gen Xers and Millennials who were children in the ’80s. Considering that Millennials and Gen Xers combined make up a whopping 39.5% of the population of the United States, It had a large potential audience to woo.
As It shows us, there’s a lot of power in nostalgia. Many of us look fondly back on the pop culture of our youth. You can tap into that power in your own marketing. Look at who your target audience is and when they were children or young adults. Take some design inspiration from the decades that created them. Why not try an upbeat ’60s inspired Facebook ad? Or maybe a ’90s inspired neon email blast? Build what your customer base wants to see.
Cultivate a Strong Identity
It took to some guerilla marketing efforts to help sell tickets. Red balloons tied to sewer grates began popping up in various cities along with text promoting the hashtag #ITMovie.
Twitter users began snapping pictures of the balloons and posting them to their networks, which were then shared out by their followers. All without the marketing company ever posting the campaign to Twitter.
SmartCompany interviewed marketing manager Stacie Beeksma at Village Roadshow Films after the incident:
“Our strategy was to implement a disruptive campaign geared to generate anticipation of the release and establish a new generation of IT fans,” Beeksma says.
“The balloons on the drains was another disruption element executed by Showtime Marketing. Amazing that sometimes the simplest and cheapest ideas are the most effective.”
The marketing team took a simple image – a red balloon tied to a sewer grate – and made it synonymous with their film. Having a clear branding identity is key to digital marketing success. When trying to make a viral campaign, less is more. Stick to 1-3 key elements (like the balloon, sewer and hashtag) to make it as easy as possible for your audience to remember.
It has already cemented itself as a horror classic. With a little help, your marketing can be a massive success too.
* * *
Do You Know Your Audience?
Creating a Buyer Persona is the best way to write compelling content for your audience. Think about it – how can you customize your message without knowing WHO you are talking to? We have created this easy eBook to help you to understand what a Buyer Persona is, and how to create one yourself using easy templates.
Need Digital Marketing or Web Design help? Our Buzz Builders Online Marketing programs will get you found online. And if you’re looking at a new website, our Minneapolis Web Design programs create beautiful and functional websites that get results. Click here to get started.