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20th Century Fox tried to tap into the viral power of Twitter on Sunday night to promote the impending release of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi movie Prometheus.

In what was heralded as a world first, a new three-minute trailer for the film was screened simultaneously online, on Channel 4 and on social TV app Zeebox.

Viewers were then encouraged to tweet about the film using the hashtag #areyouseeingthis.

During the next ad break, Channel 4 screened a 40 second spot which included viewer’s tweets.

Channel 4 said it fitted with its strategy to pioneer innovative and impactful marketing solutions, but it did it actually meet either of these criteria?

Word-of-mouth agency 1000 Heads monitored activity on Twitter around the hashtag during the past week.

The results show that there was a spike in activity on Sunday night, peaking at more than 4,000 tweets, and the hashtag was trending for a brief period.

The tweets shown on screen were all positive, but this wasn't the case on Twitter. Nice tweet by @henweb:

Following the spike in activity the number of tweets quickly fell back to zero suggesting there was no longevity in the campaign, but then the beauty of Twitter is its immediacy.

You wouldn’t expect to see days of activity surrounding the hashtag, the aim is more to gain an initial impact and raise awareness around the trailer.

1000 Heads also monitored the reach of the tweets, which is perhaps a more useful indicator of the campaign’s success.

At its peak the Twitter activity reached more than 15m users, which is several times higher than the audience figures for Homeland.

This figure is the maximum reach of the tweets, so the number of users who actually saw a tweet containing the hashtag is probably much lower.

But it will certainly have extended the reach of the promo beyond a traditional ad slot.

Sentiment analysis also suggests that the comments online were generally positive.

The word cloud below gives an overview of the most popular phrases, with 'amazing, 'awesome' and 'good' standing out.

The second question is whether it is really an innovative campaign?

In order to generate excitement, radio and print ads were used to promote the fact that the new trailer would be shown during Homeland.

The ad space wouldn’t have been cheap, and relying on traditional media isn’t generally seen as ‘innovative.’

Furthermore, while this may be the first time tweets have been included in an advert, TV shows have been displaying viewer’s tweets and text messages for many years.

Similarly bookies frequently show live odds in their TV ads, so the technology is nothing new.

So while the campaign may have achieved some success in driving awareness of the new trailer by increasing Twitter activity, asking viewers to tweet using a branded hashtag isn't a particularly innovative use of social media and nor is the technology involved in bringing tweets to the TV screen.

And due to the cost involved in promoting the campaign and buying an entire three-minute primetime ad break, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing this tactic copied on a regular basis.

David Moth

Published 2 May, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1685 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Great article - it's nice to see some analytics this!

I think parts of the campaign worked really nicely - and perhaps in unexpected ways. It actually introduced the idea of social TV to my parents for the first time, as they tend to overlook visable #hashtags, but this was obviously much more in-your-face. Infact, it excited my Dad so much that he actually created a Twitter account so he could try and get his tweet on the screen. It's the first time Twitter has been brought into 'his world' - before he's just not been interested. I actually think if it was more innovative, he wouldn't have 'got it'. For him perhaps, the beauty was in the simplicity.

On the flipside, the Twitterfall-style advert in the second break looked awful, and I bet it cost an huge amount in ad-spend...so it depends on how they are defining their ROI. Short-term engagement was a win (and I seem to still be getting #AreYouSeeingThis tweets, despite 1000heads claiming they fell back to zero), plus you can't truly track social-box office figures.

Channel 4 seem to be increasing their activity in this space immensely, and if there's anyone that's going to push these sorts of things forward at the moment, it will be them. I'm quite excited to see what they'll plan next.

over 4 years ago



Agreed with Keri in that it brings Twitter to a new audience (an older one that enjoys having their views heard - for which Twitter is perfect!)

But in terms of longevity, this simply doesn't have it. Particularly if you're spending god-knows-what on a three minute peak slot.

Movies bring you closer to a fantastical new world in which you can lose yourself. This is perfect for an experiential campaign that can be brought to the TV medium. If they had used that 3 minute slot to broadcast the interaction between audiences and a recreated Prometheus experience, combined with the Twitter hashtags and a prize incentive for those using it, I think we would have seen an equal peak reach, but with far greater longevity.

over 4 years ago


Neale Gilhooley

They are also running PPC for the word Prometheus leading to youtube to add to the budget. Great to see some analytics where as well as the comment, does anyone know how much their budget was?

BUT this film does not open in Edinburgh until 1st June, so the Twitter buzz will be long forgotten by then. Maybe it's too early or I am too far away.

NOTE: I have a hate/hate relationship with movie trailers as they all too often give away vital plot clues and ruin the thing they are promoting, however by then you have paid and they don’t figure much on repeat custom for one-offs.

over 4 years ago


Phil Borge

Keri, we're still registering tweets using the hash tag, although they have dramatically reduced since this peak. What's interesting though is how many tweets are using #areyouseeingthis as a miscellaneous drop-in. It's obviously a key quote from the trailer, but it's ambiguity from the film's title leaves it open for interpretation and dilution by people tweeting about all manner of non-related things.

The question of long-term impact is very relevant here. Neale, you're right that this activity has arguably happened so far in advance of the film that the impact may be lost, although tickets for IMAX are now on sale, so a commercial boost may well be the immediate result. However, can the cost of this activity be immediately justified against ticket pre-sales, when anticipation for the film is already very high within film communities?

For me the missed opportunity is in the 'conversation' that was originally promised by this campaign. Considering the premise of the movie and the question mark over the link between Prometheus and Scott’s previous space-classic Alien, why wasn't this interest and intrigue tapped into? Surely a longer-lasting outcome would have come from feeding conversation around this, not least from a trailer laced with hints and clues about the plot. Share those tweets in the next TV ad break, and get the wider audience wondering what it's all about. Instead we got social media 1.0 - a positively appraised trailer being shared.

over 4 years ago



I saw the ad and actually enjoyed the build up, although not particularly innovative in the fact they used Twitter it was still a solid way to interact in real time.

I agree with Keri that the Twitterfall looked a bit naff and the 100% super positive tweets were clearly very carefully selected.

It looked expensive and only time will tell whether the film will be a smash hit or not but it was a risk and I think on the whole it was successful.

over 4 years ago

Panos Ladas

Panos Ladas, Digital Marketing Manager at Piece of Cake

Dave, I loved your analysis on this, I believe it's to the point.

I suppose we'll see similar tactics in the future, most of them originating from this one and changed in such ways that they will be more cost effective.

over 4 years ago

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