EXCLUSIVE: In an age when millennials are the most prized moviegoing demo, and the hardest for studios to court as the audience indulges in digital distractions, it pays to get clever and catch them off guard.
And that’s exactly what Paramount did for its DreamWorks co-production Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson, which hits theaters on March 31.
During the commercial breaks of this week’s Season 2 finale for USA’s Mr. Robot, Paramount dropped a total of five 10-second clips — sans the mountain logo or pic’s title logo — from the movie which is based on the 1989-90 Manga series by Masamune Shirow. Various clips revealed Johansson’s cyborg protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi, who is a field commander in the counter-cyberterrorist ops group Public Security Section 9 in dystopian future Japan. Deadline discovered these clips from the Rupert Sanders-directed movie on the film’s Twitter feed, however, social was only Part 2 of the night’s campaign. However, if you were watching Mr. Robot last Wednesday, you might not have realized what was being aired. The anime property’s fans and YouTube tastemakers, who also double as Mr. Robot‘s audience, had a sense that it was Ghost in the Shell. Some of their tweets below:
Megan Colligan, Paramount’s president of worldwide distribution and marketing, says about Ghost in the Shell ‘s alignment with Mr. Robot: “The great thing about season premieres and season finales is that they’re like live sporting events: People want to watch them in real time. Because of the social media explosion, there’s a fear of missing out or having a plot detail spoiled. We knew with the Mr. Robot finale we’d get that extra boost of people who would be sharing on social.”
Despite looking like glitches during the commercial break, what made the Ghost in the Shell TV spots an anomaly was that they were 10 seconds long, and in traditional TV, the minimum spot length is 15 seconds. Essentially, the Paramount marketing team was able to persuade NBCUniversal/USA ad sales execs to go along with the out-of-the-box plan of airing TV spots with a running time that’s standard for the internet.
“It’s a movie about glitches and technology, and that fits well thematically with Mr. Robot,” says Paramount’s co-president of domestic marketing Rebecca Mall. A former Google executive of industry, Mall also oversees the Melrose lot’s digital marketing initiatives.
Adds Colligan: “Ghost in the Shell is so original in its own right that it had to have a special execution to kick it off. We needed a launch that was as unique and original as the property itself. You’ll soon learn about the glitch, it’s one of the most important parts of the film’s storytelling. It was important to present the earliest advertising for this film as a glitch instead of something more traditional.”
Whenever any type of elusive information is put out in the world, it’s the Internet and social media that provide the answers. As such, Paramount specifically provided Ghost in the Shell title art to its social media clips. Some fans went the distance and crafted their own trailers from the five, drops with the one below from Chicago-based editor Tim Gonzalez. It clocked more than 600K views on YouTube and received 5,800-plus up votes and more than 2,600 comments on Reddit:
Social media monitor RelishMix reports that Par’s Ghost in the Shell glitch campaign has been a great success, earning 12.3M views on the official Paramount channel since the interstitials dropped with the first robo-geisha clip earning 2M-plus. In addition per RelishMix, the Ghost in the Shell hashtags on Twitter and Instagram are triggering positive and enthusiastic conversations.
So what’s next for Ghost in the Shell? The full-length trailer, right?
Says Colligan on the pic’s upcoming teases, “We’re going to have some more fun with this for a little while longer.”