Five Fast & Furious films later we are buckled up for a sixth one which is scheduled to hit theaters this memorial day. The Justin Lin-directed actioner stars Paul Walker, Vin Disel, Dwayne Johnson and more reprising their roles as car thieves and FBI agents who not only have hot bods but can drive cars too. The fact that it has gone on for almost a decade shows that audiences are much more interested in the stories of these characters than a film based on comic books and other adaptations.
Part of its continuing success comes from how well social marketing team has carried out their campaigns. The New York Times recently covered how the Universal Pictures team is winning the social media game when it comes to promoting Fast & Furious 6. When comparing the Fast & Furious’ Facebook page to anyone else’s, you will notice that there are only a few that can even compare to it’s numbers. Check out how the Fast & Furious franchise is making huge waves in Social Media below.
Although the Fast & Furious is due to hit theaters this May, a big part of the promotional material just started to hit the web earlier this year. There was a teaser poster, and just a few weeks ago, Universal revealed two trailers in the same week. One was the Super Bowl ad that was basically a prelude to the three-minute trailer that appeared later that same week. Some how they were able to amass more than 844,000 new likes on its Facebook page since that Super Bowl ad aired, while films like Iron Man 3 were only able to gain 350,000 new followers.
Because the trailer was a Youtube exclusive, it managed to gain some superior numbers the likes of which few trailers have ever seen. The trailer has 16 million views and counting. Not only are these numbers attributed to the organic means of drawing numbers in, but it is also attributed to the fact that the cast used to promote this trailer using their own social media accounts, thus proving how powerful the social media game is when used effectively.
Using social media to reach out and engage fans will definitely generate more interest in the product. The official page’s numbers just doesn’t come from the trailer alone. It also comes from the cast members who were also allowed to take pictures while on set. While it may seem irresponsible to allow such a thing due to spoilers, it showed that they knew what the people wanted to see. However these were unofficial shots, and I’m inclined to believe that shots would have to been okayed by the marketing team before they went out on the web.
But it wasn’t just the cast and crew who interacted with their fans it was also the marketing team.
The franchise has gone through a couple of title changes in the past, with the fifth one being the most notable when it completely dropped the “Furious” portion. But when it came to decide what the film should be titled this time, the marketing team let the fans decide by voting on an online poll. A bit of a bold move, but it’s also a great one considering how long this franchise has gone for.
Michael Moses, Universal Pictures Marketing co-president, said this new marketing approach was similar to “flipping every lever at one time.” There are huge risks tied into making such a move, but when you look at the numbers that Fast & Furious is making on the social media end, then it looks like a risk that paid off.
Now I stress the word looks only because the box office numbers will be the one to determine how much of a success this social media campaign really was. It may look like the numbers are spiking, and that’s what anyone wants to see when they are playing the social media game. But if those numbers don’t translate into box office gold, then the team has quite the situation on their hands.
Obviously with any social media campaign, fan engagement is the key. This isn’t just the cast and crew tweeting out trailers and photos either. Its looking into what the fans want to see, and how their requests would have a direct effect on the film. Look at Fast & Furious, when it was revealed that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) had died, fans obviously reacted in many ways, so much so the had a campaign to bring her back. Fast 5 came around, which made the big reveal that she didn’t by but the other characters didn’t know it. And when it was revealed in Fast & Furious 6 trailer that Letty could make a come back, fans reacted.
Giving fans control is one thing, it wouldn’t be too much control for obvious reasons, but it shows that you want them involved, for they are the ones what got you to this point. But it also could be a risk that could hurt them in the end. Yes, you are engaging and reaching out to fans you are not insulting them by making it feel like its some sort of marketing ploy, but in the end it is a huge risk because you are using a different strategy.
This is where the release of the trailer comes in. Universal decided to hold back on it until earlier this month. The team was keeping a close eye on the numbers and how much people were talking about their film when the cast were tweeting or posting photos. So just imagine the kind of numbers you can get when people like Dwayne Johnson has 4 millions twitter followers and 8.1 million Facebook followers. Vin Disel has been making use of facebook to give updates on his Riddick film. So just imagine what one tweet or status update can do to tip the social media scale in their favor.
So when it came to the release on Super Bowl Sunday, there was one giant coordinated social media release, which resulted in some pretty spectacular numbers. Fans rushed over to like or follow the Fast & Furious page, which is why their numbers are so much higher than any other film’s page that also released a trailer that day.
Again, this does not mean the film will be successful. A lot of people are talking about it, and expectations are through the roof, which will make it that much worse if the film does flop at the box office. But the latter installments Fast & Furious franchise have been met with positive reviews, which is probably why it is at its sixth installment. It’s ability to change and adapt to what the fans want is one of the keys to its success. It’s competition, The Hangover Part III, however, has not shed any light on any marketing, and it’s predecessor was scrutinized for being too much like the first film. If it’s anything like what we’ve been hearing about, then The Hangover Part III will be darker and much more different from the last two, which could be a good thing. But is that enough to edge out Fast and Furious 6?
We won’t know until Memorial Day weekend, but by the looks of it, it looks like Fast and Furious 6 may win the Memorial Day Holiday box office.