InceptionInstigating a truly multichannel campaign can be a daunting one. You know your business better than anybody, but it's still always helpful to have a few pointers in the right direction at the beginning.

So which industries can we look at to provide a solid example of a truly successful and joined up multichannel campaign that leads customers across channels and encourages them to interact more fully with a brand?

Fortunately there are several places to look, but one of the more obvious can currently be found shoring up your local multiplex: Inception.

Christopher Nolan's latest film has had a blockbuster opening weekend, figures stand at $60.4m at time of writing, and has already garnered some great feedback from critics.

However, what's really interesting to marketers is happening offscreen. Nolan and Warner Bros. had made a point of releasing very little advance information about the film, so even with the not-insubstantial resources at their disposal it's amazing that they were able to transform a completely unknown entity into the 'must-see' release of the year in such a limited time.

In doing so, Warner showed their understanding of digital marketing and cross-streaming to produce a marketer's dream campaign.

Initial points go to the company for their intimate knowledge of their audience.

For example, Warner went to great pains over its blog outreach campaign, utilising major and minor movie fan sites to help spread titbits of pre-release information.

While they were kindest to influencers like Ain't it Cool News, they also took time to develop fun products for the fanboy in the street, beginning with a 'must read' online comic book prequel, The Cobol Job. The book introduces us to the characters and rules of Nolan's filmic world, and more importantly gives those reading it a little something extra.

Most major movie fans want to know more, to be ahead of the man in the street when it comes to a film's expanded universe. For proof of the success this kind of incentivisation can have consider the thousands of yearly Star Wars and Star Trek conventions that occur all over the world.

These events are designed around people who want to say “I am the biggest fan, the central source of knowledge”. While this may be too niche (or downright geeky) to attract mainstream audiences, Warner knew in advance that they'd be utilising one of the best connected and most highly motivated online groups available.

Of course, fan approval is all well and good but it won't necessarily pay the bills for a $200m film production. In order to engage the casual viewer, word needs to spread beyond the dedicated enthusiasts but luckily these days there's a handy crossover point called Facebook.

Warner's Facebook page for the film is a lovely exercise in landing pages to start with, but it's the interactive features that really engage fans.

Facebook has a huge gaming community, so the 'Mind Crime' game was a perfect tool for generating viral spread.

Of course, Warner also knows that not everyone is socially networked (at least, not yet...) so they've done some fun things with the main website too, including fun greenscreen apps tht put you directly into the action via your mobile, and for those wanting something a little different, the “Mind Crime Prevention” app should do the trick, with a nifty (if ultimately pointless) interface that will “allow you to tell dream from reality”.

What's striking about all of these is the effort that's gone into making the viewer feel part of the overall experience through an integrated, expanding augmented reality.

The movie is currently trending on a huge number of independent networks so Warner's forethought is really paying off, building buzz before, during and after the release.

The movie industry has been pulling off unique and involving marketing campaigns and promo stunts for years (check out 'The Tingler' for proof), and is one of the most forward thinking when it comes to social marketing and innovative digital technology.

It's worth contrasting this against that similar old media behemoth, the music industry, who have consistently struggled to find a new marketing model that competes with free sharing and piracy.

While the movie industry has been affected, it's certainly not to the same extent, and while we can't all have Leonardo Dicaprio fronting our campaigns, the willingness to involve fans and make them feel a valuable part of the marketing experience is something we can all learn from.

Matt Owen

Published 21 July, 2010 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen is a marketing consultant based in London. He was previously Head of Social at Econsultancy and currently runs Atomise Marketing. Opinions expressed are author's own.

204 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (5)



I'd never even heard about the film until suddenly EVERYONE and their cat was saying how amazing it was via word of mouth, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and so on. TBH I think they could have scrapped the whole marketing budget for it. It's such a good film, it sells itself.

almost 8 years ago

Manfredi Sassoli de Bianchi

Manfredi Sassoli de Bianchi, VP Marketing at jobinasecond

Interesting. Does anyone know if there were any offline media campaigns promoting the film?

almost 8 years ago


Depesh Mandalia, CEO & Founder at SM Commerce

Great article to demonstrate the effect of not just utilising the marketing and PR channels open to you, but the right channels for the product you're promoting and the customers you're targeting. Great execution, timing and overall delivery ensures that no matter what the film is actually like, they'll have Grossed enough in the first few weeks to make the film a monetary success anyway!

almost 8 years ago

Manfredi Sassoli de Bianchi

Manfredi Sassoli de Bianchi, VP Marketing at jobinasecond

Matt, Aliya thanks for the additional info.

I can't wait to see the film!!

almost 8 years ago

Corrie Davidson

Corrie Davidson, Social Media Manager at Sisarina, Inc

I would point out that its a really good film. Ultimately, no matter how good your campaign or pre-release materials are, if your film sucks, it will get dragged through the "social media" mud. Fast. 

almost 8 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.