Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Online viral marketing leads to paranormal success of the Paranormal Activity series


  Nowadays, online marketing has been the key factor of integrated marketing communications. Especially, thanks to the escalating popularity and influence of social media, online marketing is getting bigger and bigger power of utilizing word of mouth. 


 The Paranormal Activity (2007), was probably the most successful case of online viral marketing, especially when social media was just beginning to explode. As a mere $15,000 budget independent film, the movie was only screened in a horror film festival. 

 It took 2 years for Paramount to purchase the distribution right and actually decided to release the movie on theaters. However, the movie was likely to be fail, mainly because it's an independent film with no celebrities. In order to minimize the risk and find out the demand, Paramount made viewers to "demand" the movie to be screened in their town. If certain number of people demand the movie in a website called eventful.com, then Paranormal Activity would be released. As a result, both people who loved the movie, and those who wanted to see the movie went online and spread the word. 

 Surprisingly, within a month, Paranormal Activity was expanded to nationwide release, from 13 college town release in initial stage. Thanks to the successful viral marketing, The film earned nearly $108 million at the U.S. box office and $194 million worldwide.

 Based on the enormous financial return from the first movie, the sequel came out in 2010. Interestingly, even though the film title was already proven to  have enough demand to be lucrative, marketers used the same viral marketing technique to promote Paranormal Activity 2 (2010). 


  Once again, people were encouraged to demand the movie to be screened in their town, by spreading the word through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. As a result of the marketing tactic, the sequel earned $84,752,907 in North America and a worldwide total of $177,512,032, which is slightly less than the first movie, but still generating a huge ROI.

  And this year, Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) was released. As the movie gets successful every year, the production cost increased to $5 million for the third one. Still, it is a very low budget in Hollywood. 


 Maintaining consistency, Paranormal Activity 3 has also used lots of viral marketing. The difference is that people now do not demand to have the movie screened in their city, but rather to have the movie released earlier than other parts of the world. And the campaign was targeted toward the entire world. The result was even more successful than predecessors with $102,619,000 in the United States and a worldwide total of $197,119,000.

 Overall, such paranormal success was possible thanks to the power of viral marketing. Would Paranormal Activity 4, if it comes out, follow the same path? Probably Yes, as it can increase the user engagement and can generate buzz with less effort than traditional marketing.


NU IMC certificate
Ian YS Lee

2 comments:

  1. Like your article. Don't be afraid to tell us your expertise and what we will learn in the first paragraph of the article. It starts weaker but gets good very quickly.

    Also, add labels to attract readers. I would recommend labels for our alumni [Northwestern, Medill, IMC etc.], labels for marketers [marketing IMC CRM database etc] and labels specific for this article.

    It is an interesting read.

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