Director/Writer Hunter Adams’ feature film, Dig Two Graves is a gothic thriller following the story of generational violence and revenge between three families in a small mid western town with an equally dark and violent past.
Our goal was to plan and execute media campaigns to create awareness and drive sales for the film’s theatrical release in ten metro locations, an exclusive iTunes pre-order purchase, exclusive 30-day iTunes release andVideo On Demand (VOD) wide-release.
Our first step was to discover and target the right audience for this film. Dig Two Graves is not a traditional horror film, and fit easily into multiple categories. We embraced that challenge head on and customized a target audience that included Stephen King fans and fans of psychological horror, thrillers and independent films. Most importantly, we prioritized outreach to the locals in Marion, IL where the film was shot. This community was abig part of the film’s production and easily the biggest advocates.
Once we identified our audience we strategized an engaging and interactive editorial calendar based on the film’s several themes for Dig Two Graves’ Facebook and Twitter channels resulting in over 4 million impressions and 25,000+ engagements in a five-month span. For long form content the Tumblr blog, Unearthing Dig TwoGraves, was created to explore the dark history of the film, interviews with stars of the film like Ted Levine, Samantha Isler and Sintullo the Rattlesnake and behind the scenes insights. A Wikipedia page further cemented the film’s digital presence. In addition, we created a Dig Two Graves theatrical trailer that was featured in theatres and across on-line movie websites (e.g. iTunes, IMDb).
Giveaway opportunities and events are an essential asset deployed by our social media team to build an engaged audience. For Dig Two Graves we collaborated with popular horror news, fan and film review sites to create experiential social media events.
To boost the Twitter audience and dig deeper into the film we launched a Twitter Chat, hosted by “Horror News.net” featuring Dig Two Graves star Troy Ruptash and writer-director Hunter Adams. We engaged fans with exclusive clips, behind-the-scenes and in depth revelations into the filming process and character developments.One lucky fan walked away with a custom Wyeth Butcha painting signed by Troy while others won Dig TwoGraves Mystery boxes.
Dig Two Graves’ NYC and Los Angeles’ theatrical premiers were supported by VIP tickets giveaways hosted byelite horror sites Dread Central (NYC) and Bloody Disgusting (LA). Both sites wrote glowing movie reviews promoting the theatrical release and premiere giveaways. They further supported the campaigns with regular social promotion.
To propel the iTunes and VOD launch we set out to engage both movie fans at large and target the horror community by collaborating on giveaways with heavy hitter movie fan site Rotten Tomatoes and horror fan favorite HorrorTalk. Rotten Tomatoes ran two separate giveaways engaging fans on Twitter requesting their 1.7million followers to retweet a Dig Two Graves promo and hosted a separate Facebook giveaway encouraging their fans to answer a Dig Two Graves related question. HorrorTalk. reviewed the film on their website and promoted a giveaway encouraging fans to share the blog on various social channels.
As release day drew near we set paid media campaigns into action. To promote the VOD iTunes release we ran Facebook campaigns for pre-sale and rental along with YouTube pre-roll ads for the VOD release. Additionally, we promoted the theatrical release with a Facebook campaign and YouTube pre-roll ads. Across both channels the VOD and theatrical campaigns delivered 2.6+ million impressions with 151K+ views.
YouTube delivered over 347K impressions with 91K+ views accounting for nearly 61% of total views. Facebook delivered over 2.3 million impressions with 59K+ views. While YouTube provided a low-cost platform with solid results, final metrics show Facebook was the most cost effective vehicle for driving awareness and clicks to VOD and theatrical sites. Overall cost per action for the combined campaign efforts was less than 0.01 per action and nearly half of the users reached interacted with posts.
The film’s theatrical release was additionally supported by premiers in Los Angeles at Laemmle Music Hall, in Chicago at AMC River East 21, New York City’s Cinema Village and at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center in Marion. Horror fan site, “Dread Central’s” Tony Timpone hosted the New York City premier and post screeningQ&A with Hunter Adams and “Horror meister” Larry Fessenden. “Bloody Disgusting’s” Kalyn Corrigan hosted theLos Angeles premiere where fans were treated to a Q&A with Dig Two Graves stars, Troy Ruptash (WYETH) andDean Evans (JON) along with Hunter Adams.
The Marion “Little Egypt” screening event provided an opportunity to give back to the enthusiastic community who devoted time and resources to the film, over 600 moviegoers attended. Writer-Director Hunter Adams,Illinois historian Jon Musgrave and snake-wrangler and educator Tony Gerard attended the screening and joined members of the crew on stage for a post screening Q & A. The after-party included an interactive Sintullo the Rattlesnake photo-booth where fans were afforded the opportunity to take pictures with either Hunter, Tony or Sintullo and his snake friends. The pictures were then posted on Facebook where guests were encouraged to tag and share their photos for a chance to win Dig Two Graves prizes.
Good press is critical to the success of a film and we knew the awareness we were raising for Dig Two Graves was paying off when the LA Times, Richard Roeper, The New York Times, The Washington Post—to name afew—all left favorable reviews. Dig Two Graves additionally earned a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 80%.
In conjunction with great press, marketing efforts were further rewarded when Dig Two Graves reached the status of #1 iTunes Horror download for the first week of its release, remaining in the top 10 for weeks to come. Additionally, it clocked in at #20 in the Thriller category.
The campaign's success proves the significance of meshing online and offline strategies. Using a robust combination of social content, audience targeting, and advertising in addition to leveraging the press and hosting theatrical events, we created the perfect storm of powerful promotion.
Moreover, by implementing the “Unearthing Dig Two Graves” blog and several influential giveaways, we were able to enhance our online storytelling and establish highly effective word-of-mouth marketing.
According to Seth Godin, “Marketing is a contest for people’s attention”, and this “Dig Two Graves” film campaign is a clear winner.