We loved this article because it shows the power of social media…something we always teach our clients! Originally posted by Mashable.
2/18/2011 by Christina Warren.
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Months before that, Disney and Pixar embarked in a wide-scale marketing blitz that covered television, print and social media. Using Facebook and YouTube to help promote the film, the studio raised awareness and successfully targeted demographics that don’t traditionally flock to Disney animated feature films.
In the following, we take a closer look at the Toy Story 3 social media campaign.
For Toy Story 3, Disney and Pixar heavily marketed the film across different demographics. Pixar films are unique in that they typically appeal to broader audiences and skew older than other animated films. Thanks to films like The Incredibles, WALL-E and Up, it’s not uncommon to see more adults than children packed into theaters when watching a Pixar movie.
From the very beginning, Disney and Pixar made it clear that individuals in their twenties would be a big target for Toy Story 3. The TV and print campaigns for the film largely targeted families and younger children. In an interesting move, however, Disney ran a parallel campaign targeting twenty-somethings via Facebook, YouTube and movie blogs.
In March of 2010, Disney and Pixar announced special cliffhanger screenings of Toy Story 3 at college campuses around the country.
Using Facebook, students with a valid college ID could sign up for special screenings of the film. These screenings were 65 minutes in length and designed to whet viewers appetites for the final release in June 2010.
Targeting college students and doing special campus screenings was the first sign that Disney was serious about targeting socially savvy audiences.
Pixar and Disney also targeted older Generation X viewers with its “Groovin’ with Ken” character profile. The clip, which is very Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in its approach, introduces audiences to the character Ken. Voiced by Michael Keaton, Ken is one of the funniest characters in the film.
Here’s the YouTube clip:
In April 2010, Disney and Pixar raised the ante for social media campaigns everywhere with the release of the Lots-o’Huggin’ Bear “vintage” YouTube commercials. Purportedly from the 1980s, these ads oozed nostalgia. From the lighting to the clothing, the ads could easily be mistaken for something from 1983. To add to the effect, the clips were given a “bad tracking” VHS effect.
Directed by Chris Cantwell, the two ads were shot in high-definition. The Toy Story 3 Blu-ray edition features a 90-second “making-of” clip showing the ads both untreated and then treated for YouTube.
The details in post-production — as well as the decision to release the clips on YouTube — made the Lotso spots a viral sensation.
To date, the main Lotso clip has been viewed more than 1 million times on YouTube — and we imagine that number can be multiplied several times to counter the variants and copies floating around the web.
These ads, which were released in late April 2010, immediately opened up a wave of press and blog coverage that extended far beyond the typical movie news cycle. The ads worked because it gave viewers a look into the the alternate reality of an animated film — while also acting as a genuinely cool Internet video.
Moreover, the ads managed to promote the film without promoting it. The advertisements were for a new character in the Toy Story universe. This character is integral to the film, however his role in the story is not revealed from the faux ads.
The faux ads were successful enough that Disney released an actual collector’s edition Lotso toy in the fall of 2010.
A marketing tie-in between Toy Story 3 and Dancing with the Stars aired in May 2010. Airing on the Disney-owned ABC, a special segment showcased how Dancing with the Stars influenced the animation of a Latin dance number.
This aspect of the campaign felt the most false to us. As funny as Spanish Buzz is in Toy Story 3, the tie-in with Dancing with the Stars just feels awkward. The fact that the appearance received little coverage even across movie and Disney-focused blogs indicates that perhaps this wasn’t the strongest part of the campaign.
Toy Story 3 was a huge hit with critics, and with fans. The film has gone on to gross over $1 billion dollars worldwide, making it the most successful animated film of all time.
Even before the film’s release, it seemed inevitable that Toy Story 3 would be nominated — if not win — the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. For Disney, however, that’s not enough. In November, Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross launched a tongue-in-cheek Oscar campaign for the biggest award in Hollywood: Best Picture.
Speaking with Pete Hammond at Deadline, Ross said:
“With this movie we wanted to come up with a campaign that kept our aspirations clear but at the same time used a tongue-in-cheek approach. It’s all to recognize the quandary which is that no animated picture had won Best Picture, so we used only Best Picture images to reflect that. I feel very confident we have a movie everybody loves, and I want to make sure with our support and our campaign that people don’t feel the consolation prize is the appropriate prize for a movie like Toy Story 3. I think people will look at the ads and feel it’s very Pixar and very Disney. At the same time it’s very clear. Toy Story 3 is a Best Picture. Vote for it. Please.”
When Oscar nominations were announced last month, Toy Story 3 received five nods — including Best Picture, Best Animated Feature and Best Adapted Screenplay. Toy Story 3‘s chances at taking home Best Picture are a long shot, though — it’s only the third animated film in history to secure a Best Picture nomination.
In the end, the campaigns for the film before, during and after its release have solidified Toy Story 3‘s role in history, both as a film and as a case study for effective uses of social media and viral marketing.