According to Adi Shankar, writing in Forbes Magazine 4 years ago, the P&A spend (the dollar amount spent on marketing, or ‘Prints & Advertising’) on an average movie was around 70% of the production budget of that film. In other words, if ‘Die Hard 16’ had a budget of $100 million, then the marketing expenditure would be in around $70 million.

However, marketing expenditures have skyrocketed in recent years, and 70% is something of a low-ball. These days, major releases routinely have production costs that are a mere fraction of their marketing budgets. The recent trend of low-budget horror and thriller films are a great example: The Purge, Insidious 1 & 2, Dark Skies, Sinister, Skyline, You’re Next – all of them had production budgets under $5 million dollars, and marketing budgets over $20 million.

In spite of this, in South Africa – and indeed in most countries around the world – film marketing is mostly an after-thought for filmmakers. Perhaps because of the sheer difficulty of raising production funding, concern about what will happen with the film once it’s complete is too often seen as someone else’s problem. Even the powers-that-be encourage this backward way of thinking. The DTI and the IDC do not, for instance, include marketing spend as part of the calculation of Qualifying South African expenditure. And even though most funding regimes do insist on proper consideration of a film’s “audience”, there’s not really much thought expected of how a film will actually reach that audience. As a result, too many filmmakers still think that the quality of their work will be enough to break through the competitive “noise” and get the audience into the cinemas or at least downloading legally online.

But how do filmmakers really hope to compete with the following gobsmacking statistics ?

How many people use YouTube 1 billion
YouTube views in 2011 1 trillion
Video Views per day on YouTube 4 billion
Hours of Video watched per month on YouTube 6 billion
Hours of Video Uploaded to YouTube per minute 100 hours
Number of days worth of YouTube videos viewed on Facebook every minute 323 days

Within the next five years, connected consumers will have access to every piece of media ever made, anytime, anywhere, at the click of a button. New content won’t just be competing with its contemporaries, but also with everything from the past as well. So how do you compete and not get lost in the rush? By effectively and efficiently match content with the perfect audience member.

And as a producer of marketing and distribution, that’s where I come in.

My job is to help filmmakers cut through the “noise”. I look critically at a film – ideally early in the scripting stage – and craft a marketing and distribution plan around it that directly targets various audiences and draws them into a relationship with the film and the filmmaker. Working closely with the creative team, I basically work out the best ways to get the movie funded, the best way to get the movie made, and the best ways to get it out into the marketplace and to reach the target audiences.

The “bible” for this is the marketing and distribution strategic plan (MDSP). The MSDP is a physical document that sets out, step-by-step, of all of the work that needs to be done to promote and distribute the film to its core audiences in the coming weeks and months.

This MSDP will typically cover:

• Fundraising opportunities
• Traditional Marketing & Distribution Channels
• Digital and Social Media Marketing
• Merchandising
• Transmedia
• Campaigns, Events, Special Screenings

The overall aim is to deliver combine traditional marketing with blogging, social media, transmedia and digital promotion — to replicate the marketing reach of a much wealthier film.

I also input on new opportunities with distribution. Distribution is changing dramatically, moving from fixed, formal, traditional models to more flexible systems that give the producer more control – and more access to potential profits. (The problem currently is that the moment rights are shared with partners, the returns on profits are diminished.)

Distributor in Control Director in Control
Overall Deal Hybrid Approach
Fixed Release Plans Flexible Release Strategies
Mass Audience Core / Cross-Over / Niche Audiences
Rising Costs Lower Costs
Viewer via Distributor Direct Access to Audience
Third Party Sales Direct and Third Party Sales
Territory-by-Territory Global
Cross Collaterialsed Separate Revenue Streams
Anonymous Consumers True Fans

However, in spite of the changes, the “system” changes very slowly, and in South Africa at least, DTI / IDC incentives are dependent on traditional pre-sales agreements. Therefore I prefer to work towards hybrid models of distribution that focus on splitting rights and maximizing profits.


There are three unique elements to my approach:



The Major Change in approach is that of Relationship Marketing. Relationship marketing centres around building customer satisfaction, rather than focusing only on sales transactions. Relationship Marketing recognizes the long term value of customer relationships and extends communication beyond advertising and sales promotional messages. In other words, we’re not out to sell you a movie ticket. We’re out to build a relationship with you where you become invested in the success of our movie.

Much of the opportunity to create this new kind of relationship with audience stems from the radical changes to the way we interact with customers. Out is the old broadcast method – where we simply told you what was what and when it was available. Now it’s a networked method focusing on social interactions between peers.


Influencer Marketing comprises four main activities:
• Identifying influencers, and ranking them in order of importance.
• Marketing to influencers, to increase awareness of the firm within the influencer community
• Marketing through influencers, using influencers to increase market awareness of the firm amongst target markets
• Marketing with influencers, turning influencers into advocates of the firm.

Influencer Marketing is a vitally important element, given the impact of those influencers, through social media, on decision-making. Research shows that:

• Consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals (Hubspot)
• Out of 53% of consumers who said they use Twitter to recommend companies or products in their Tweets, 48% bought that product or service (SproutSocial)
• 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions (SproutSocial)
• 79% of consumers like a Facebook company page because it offers discounts and incentives (Forbes)
• 44% of automotive consumers conduct research on forums (Mashable)
• 81% of US respondents indicated that friends’ social media posts directly influenced their purchase decision (Forbes)
• 78% of respondents said that companies’ social media posts impact their purchases (Forbes)
• 70% of active online adult social networkers shop online, 12% more likely than the average adult internet user (Nielsen)
• 44% of social media savvy women said their trusted/favorite blogger influences their purchasing decision (Business2Community)

Five attributes of influencers:
• Activist: influencers get involved, with their communities, political movements, charities and so on.
• Connected: influencers have large social networks
• Impactful: influencers are looked up to and are trusted by others
• Active minds: influencers have multiple and diverse interests
• Trendsetter: influencers tend to be early adopters (or leavers) in markets

4 archetypes of influencers:
• Educators – Thrive on helpfulness and insightfulness
• Coaches – Thrive on helpfulness and engagement
• Entertainers – Thrive on engagement and inspiration
• Charismatics – Thrive on insightfulness and inspiration


Finally, the key to the success of this approach is Transmedia Storytelling. Transmedia storytelling uses multiple media platforms tell a narrative across time. Each media piece—whether it’s a comic, novel, video game, mobile app, or a film—functions as a standalone story experience—complete and satisfying. Each piece also contributes to the larger narrative. The process is cumulative and each piece adds richness and detail to the story world, such as character backstories and secondary plotlines.

Transmedia storytelling is fully participatory. The audience becomes actively involved, elevated to social and creative collaborators. The unfolding story design creates the motivation to engage with other participants, seek out other parts of the story, and contribute to the narrative by adding content.
Transmedia stories can be simple, across a few low-tech media platforms or break down the barriers between the story and reality by bringing the narrative out into the real world, in the form of complex and exciting alternative reality games (ARGs), where participants engage with narrative elements and characters using real world locations as part of the storyworld.

Characters and Themes
Every Character unlocks themes, ideas, conversations, linkages and cross-pollination opportunities.
Each theme can be explored in on a multiplicity of platforms.
Each theme or idea offers marketing potential for the product. Themes combine to define audiences