Industry Report: Jan Naszewski • Sales agent, New Europe Film Sales
Marketing Within the New Era of Entertainment Media
by Cartoon, the European Association of Animation Film
- Tobias Bauckhage describes the marketing strategy adopted in 2006 for the film Bye Bye Berlusconi!, that was quoted as one of the best viral Campaigns by the art Directors Club (ADC).
Tobias Bauckhage is the co-founder and CEO of www.moviepilot.de, a German Internet start-up helping users to discover new movies - based on their personal taste. Moviepilot includes a personalized programme guide for TV, cinema and DVD releases and is backed by a large and vibrant community of critics, film- makers and other movie lovers. Together with producer Jon Handschin he is also the founder of the German distribution company Jetfilm, enjoying a special reputation for their reckless guerrilla and digital viral-marketing campaigns. The campaign for their last movie Bye Bye Berlusconi! [+see also:
film profile] has been quoted to be one of the best viral Campaigns by the art Directors Club (ADC).
You distributed a movie last year, Bye Bye Berlusconi! by Jan Henrik Stahlberg and Lucia Chiarla. The movie was about the kidnapping of Berlusconi. First of all, did you have legal problems with the theme?
Well, if you make a film that opposes one of the richest and most powerful man in Europe you run the risk of winding up in court rather than in the cinema. Especially if such a film is about the man who was Italy’s Prime Minister. The film is about a committed young film crew from Genoa that plans to make a serious political film about the kidnapping of Silvio Berlusconi. The kidnappers’ goal is to hold a fair and independent trial that will finally pass the judgement that, in real life, Berlusconi has successfully eluded for many years. The film is intended as a clarion call to Italy to wake up and vote their prime minister out of office in April 2006. However, on the first day of filming, it is apparent that the film team have undertaken too much. At the end and, in order to protect themselves from litigious action on the part of Berlusconi, they decided to make it obvious that their film is a satire by transporting the film’s setting from Italy to Duckburg. Nobody has any idea if this absurd trick will be enough to prevent the film from being banned. Nevertheless, when it comes to legal details, the film adheres strictly to reality. All the charges brought against the crooked mayor Micky Laus in the film are real accusations.
Berlusconi and his closest aides were implicated in numerous criminal cases concerning his proximity to the Mafia, false balance sheets, tax evasion and bribery. Berlusconi was not convicted in a single one of these cases. Most of these cases are now time-barred. Others have been dropped because the Berlusconi government itself changed certain laws, making them more favourable to him.
How did you market the film?
We created a real buzz around the film through events and short videos that were screened on You tube and Myspace. It was easy to create nice little videos with someone who is the spitting image of Berlusconi.
One of our major marketing events was made during the World economic Forum in Davos. During the Public eye awards 2006 at the Davos event, Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, was awarded most irresponsible businessman of the year with the annual «Pinocchio Prize». Instead of the real Berlusconi, the prize was accepted in a satirical show by Maurizio Antonini, Italian Berlusconi- look-alike. Antonini thanked the numerous non-government organisations and apologized in front of hundreds of globalization critics for the police violence during the G-8 summit in Genoa 2002. We wanted also to test if the Italian actor was really like Berlusconi. It so happened that the European premiere of the film King Kong was in Berlin in 2006. We called the organisation of the premiere 15 minutes before the opening of the gala event. We said that we were from the German Foreign affair Office and that Berlusconi was in Berlin for the premiere as he was a great fan of King Kong. The protocol accepted, and we arrived to the premiere with the Berlusconi-look-alike, a limousine and several bodyguards. This experiment worked, as people took the actor for the real Berlusconi. We had 3 days of coverage in the newspapers, totally free!
You also conceived a video that was screened on YouTube...
Yes, we realised a little video, with the Berlusconi-look-alike doing a little «joke» to a policewoman in Brussels. The video has been seen almost 2 millions times.
How does buzz work?
Buzz is something that is not easily done. There are some limitations. If you want to create a buzz, you have to find something that works for buzz. It has to be something easy to share, compact, short and socially engaging. You need an idea which can easily be communicated to friends.
The idea behind a buzz must be universally interesting. We are talking about broad networks. Most of the viral messages we sent for other marketing campaigns did not work.
Contagious messages should not distract from what you want to show. The message should be like a trailer that promotes your film. The idea is to get people acquainted with the characters you want to introduce to them.
Cartoon Master Potsdam, German November 2007
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