On Feb. 16, Lionsgate, media agency Mindshare and ad tech company Sizmek launched a campaign to promote the home video release of “Mockingjay Part I,” the third movie in the uber-popular “Hunger Games” series.
The initiative, called Unlock Mockingjay, was both quick – lasting from 8:30am to 11am – and incredibly complex, beginning with a Facebook message coded in binary that participants had to crack. This led them to one of 19 participating sites and ended on Twitter with the ultimate carrot: a deleted scene from the film.
Sizmek handled the campaign’s back-end and front-end technical challenges – enabling “Hunger Games” fans to interact with binary code on Facebook so they could crack it and head to a message hosted on a publisher partner’s site.
And Mindshare handled the logistics – ensuring it could get Lionsgate’s messaging on select publishers.
“We wanted as much exposure as possible for the execution and we wanted to hit on all fronts,” said Amanda Miller, Lionsgate’s marketing director. “We worked with IGN, which is a leading gaming news site and is male-centric. We wanted to hit premiere entertainment sites like Celebuzz. We wanted to reach core teen sites like Fanpop. We wanted to hit blogs that provided social commentary and core fanboys as well.”
Mindshare had previously executed campaigns for Lionsgate, a client since 2013. Notably, it built a Facebook campaign for the home entertainment release of “Mockingjay’s” prequel, “Catching Fire.”
“This campaign was much more complex and had more moving parts,” said Jackson Callaghan, a director and partner of digital at Mindshare. Lionsgate wanted to activate across multiple touchpoints, including other social networks. This meant Twitter, the second-largest social network and whose interface is ideal for real-time fan engagement.
The Sizmek Social platform also enables marketers to manage activity across different posts on different networks.
But another component further complicated the campaign’s deployment.
“The biggest challenge was making sure publishers would even consider providing Lionsgate access to their source code,” Callaghan said.
Lionsgate needed space on various publisher websites not intended for advertising and that had never been altered for advertisers. This meant Mindshare had to negotiate three to four weeks prior to the campaign’s launch with site developers, editors and even a handful of creative staff.
“Not all publishers were onboard at the beginning,” Callaghan recalled. “We were proposing something that was more ambitious, that went beyond advertising placements and canvases. They needed to understood the concept itself, then have internal conversations.”
It helped that the entire campaign was in support of an extremely popular film franchise. “We leveraged that appeal and emphasized that this campaign would get some notoriety, that it would stand out in the overall marketplace,” Callaghan said.
The engagement KPIs around the campaign were relatively straightforward. Basically, the goal was virality. The promotional message on Facebook received 36,000 likes and a promotional image received more than 2,500 shares. On Twitter, the message had more than 4,000 retweets.
“At the end of the day, keeping our fans happy and keeping them engaged with our content is the most important thing,” Lionsgate’s Miller said. Given the campaign’s recency, and the fact that “Mockingjay” is just beginning to crack the home entertainment market, full results haven’t yet been tabulated.
Earned media however was an additional benefit, as the campaign garnered unsolicited write-ups on BuzzFeed, EW and The Huffington Post – articles that focused on the release of the deleted scene.
“BuzzFeed did an entire post on this that lived on the home page, which I’d imagine would cost advertisers upwards of $100,000,” said Regine Ingram, director of client services at Sizmek Social. “They picked up on that organically, based on how many people were tweeting about it.”
But even before all of the earned coverage, before the campaign was even over, Lionsgate, Mindshare and Sizmek fielded full teams to monitor the campaign’s performance in real time.
“We projected a wide range of user participation,” Callaghan said. This ranged from fans unlocking the deleted scene from within the first hour of activation to a full day. (It took two and a half hours, hence the campaign’s end at 11 a.m.)
Though closely monitored, however, the Unlock Mockingjay campaign itself wasn’t dynamic. Sizmek has the ability to dynamically alter images, video and calls to action, according to A.J. Vernet, global VP and GM of Sizmek Social. While Mindshare and Lionsgate didn’t use this feature for the latest campaign, Callaghan is open to experimenting in the future.
“We could react to a couple of things going on in the social space, just in the short timeframe between activation and video release,” he said. However, Lionsgate and Mindshare didn’t have multiple creative assets they could use to optimize the campaign – for instance, seeding out an image of a particular character that’s driving buzz and user participation. “We’d also pay more attention to editorial coverage about the activation and the other social platforms that had user buzz and user coverage.”