After Disney issued extremely conservative predictions for “The Jungle Book,” the live-action film by Jon Favreau obliterated expectations with its massive $103.6 opening weekend. These powerful results make this our IMC Campaign of the Month.
Disney made several smart marketing choices during the lead-in to the release of The Jungle Book that helped build hype and buzz for the movie. They combined typical marketing approaches, special opportunities available only to Disney and a few unique techniques and messaging particular to this film. Each of these aspects of the IMC campaign were deployed with terrific skill and a keen eye toward how each part of the plan fit together. The result was maximum marketing impact.
Recognizing that the Disney Magic Castle logo is not an automatic plus for the male demo, Disney aggressively and repeatedly pitched the movie to male audiences. Commercials on ESPN created the perception that TheJungle Book movie was not coming from the studio that made Cinderella but from the studio that produced the Pirates of the Caribbean series. An extended 3D trailer for TheJungle Book was played during the showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, of which the majority of the audience was male. Disney also rolled out an action-packed trailer during the Super Bowl.
Plus Disney’s marketers targeted the Hispanic audience by teaming with Univision, the American Spanish-language TV network, for a five-week stint that brought TheJungle Book characters and clips to telenovelas, talk shows and sports coverage. Disney even built a tool to allow Univision personalities to appear in scenes.
Word of mouth spreads faster than ever in the age of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. TheJungle Book had everything in its favor, and with the help of social channels, went over the edge in terms of popularity. Disney’s savvy online marketing campaign also contributed to the buzz.
“With each new piece of material, you’re showing [fans] enough to have them understand what you are doing, but also just enough to keep secrets so there’s still excitement and discovery when they go to the theater,” The Jungle Book director Jon Favreau told Mashable in a phone interview.
To emphasize the “immersive world” (think Avatar) Disney introduced a mazelike Law of the Jungle website in partnership with the female-leaning Tumblr; ran special promos at IMAX theaters focusing on the snake Kaa; and created a touring virtual-reality experience and 360-degree Facebook video emphasizing the “Avatar”-like world of its jungle.
Various corners of the Disney empire pitched in to promote “The Jungle Book.” A New Year’s Day stunt on the Disney Channel, for instance, was used to portray the film as one of the year’s first blockbuster offerings for families and children. But the synergistic heavy lifting in this IMC campaign was done by Disney theme parks. During the jam-packed spring break weeks, park theaters in Florida and California offered sneak-peek footage of the movie, with Mr. Favreau providing introductions. The many (many) theme park stores that sell Disney merchandise had “Jungle Book” sections. And Disney built photogenic “Jungle Book” sand sculptures at its Animal Kingdom and Epcot parks in Florida.
The integrated marketing campaign for The Jungle Book demonstrated how integrating online, traditional and “on the ground” promotion can deliver powerful returns despite a challenging target audience.