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Sub-Genre Media Newsletter:
Semi-frequent musings on indie film, media, branded content and related items from Brian Newman.

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Brian Newman & Sub-Genre Media

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Warby Parker Loves Mister Rogers

I’m four-eyed, and this past week, I had to get new glasses, which I picked up on Sunday from Warby Parker. Much to my surprise, the entire Rockefeller Center branch of the store was filled with marketing for Won’t You Be My Neighbor, the new Morgan Neville documentary on Mister Rogers. Focus Features made a brilliant brand-marketing campaign with the company, and it turns out it was bigger than just that store.
But the store activation was great, and is a perfect example for what filmmakers should think about asking for from brands beyond cash. First, the front windows of the store had marketing for the film, which essentially is like having a billboard for your film right smack dab in the middle of one of the most trafficked parts of Manhattan – Sixth Ave at 50th street, right next to Rockefeller Center, the Jimmy Fallon entrance and Radio City Music Hall.
Second, throughout the store, they had placed postcard stations – you could fill out a postcard with a message to any one of your neighbors or friends and mail it to them from the store. Each postcard was pre-stamped with a Mister Rogers postage stamp, and marketing for the movie. And it was tied to a contest – give your email and be entered for a chance to win a private screening for you and your friends, in your neighborhood. Bingo – marketing message prominently placed throughout the store, and you give your email, so now they’ve built a fan mailing list for the film and presumably future Focus Feature films.
And even better – they provided pens to fill out the postcards, which were also branded with the movie’s name, and there were plenty of them available, encouraging people to take them and advertise the film elsewhere. And to finish it off – a bowl full of Mister Rogers “EncourageMINTS” to take to freshen your breath (and get rid of that marketing taste, I presume…just kidding).
I emailed the marketing team at Warby, and their PR/Marketing agency responded with some more info about the campaign – which was super nice of them. They said they “launched the #BeMyNeighbor campaign, paying homage to Mr. Rogers’ life’s work and legacy of benevolence and inclusivity.” And they explained that in addition to the postcards, people could enter the contest online with the #BeMyNeighbor hashtag campaign. They held events in multiple cities for about a week, and if you search online you can find lots of local press – earned media – from the campaign. The campaign also included a blog post on the Warby website, and I would imaging more marketing that I didn’t receive.
I did think of one lost opportunity – when Warby emailed me my receipt and again to let me know to come pick up my glasses, they should have marketed the campaign there too. I’ve done that with many clients and seen great success from including such campaigns in email receipts.
But regardless, it’s a great tie-in campaign, and gives some great marketing ideas that any indie filmmaker could copy/replicate – you don’t have to be Focus Features to approach a brand with a great idea.

Stuff I'm Reading

Stephen Follows has a great article on advice for filmmakers trying to break into the industry. I recommend the full post, but especially like this graphic he made of the 84 steps to making a narrative feature film.
Peter Hamilton pens a depressing “anti-case-study” on the problems with investigative docs, by way of the film The Cleaners. It shows how a good film of investigative journalism can get broadcasters on board, premiere at Sundance and then 50 other film fests, and still wind up $400K in debt. Read it and weep. There’s much to learn here, but one big takeaway: don’t make your film without the full budget in place and hope for a big sale to Netflix at Sundance to close your budget gap. Those days are o-v-e-r.
BitTorrent sold for $140Million to a Blockchain Company named Tron. Yes, you read all of that right. BitTorrent has been part of many schemes for revolutionizing content distribution, and most of them failed, beyond that spectacular piracy part. But as we move towards Blockchain as a potential basis for distributing content and keeping tabs on who needs to be paid, etc. this is a brilliant way for Tron to speed up it’s decentralized hub model. Very smart.
MoviePass owner Helios and Matheson in more bad news. Business Insider reports that one of their board members and shareholders has been accused of defrauding creditors in India, has quite a controversial past, and gets paid $19K (!) a month to consult for them. This story just keeps getting better.
What does Will Packer look for in a pitch? Diversity. As he tells Vulture, in an article with interviews with multiple gatekeepers, “I think about the potential diversity of a cast while I’m reading: “Quite a bit. The reason there’s been such a dearth of diversity in Hollywood is because a narrow group of writers have depicted their versions of reality. If I’m telling stories that truly reflect the world, I shouldn’t have to try to be diverse. Also, I’m not white; I didn’t come up in the Hollywood system. This helps me have a very different view of content creation. And I live in Atlanta — not Los Angeles — so I’m naturally around more so-called ‘real’ people, and that helps.” Smartest man in Hollywood, okay he lives in Atlanta, so listen to him. I’m biased though, as we both played football at the same high school in St. Pete FL (and boy has he done better!).
Branded Content
Marriott is moving Alexa into hotels. Yes, you’ll be able to use it to dim the lights, order room service and change the channel on your porn-machine, I mean hotel television. But I wouldn’t doubt we see them do some cool story-telling with it in the future – get a bedtime story, or a Marriott-themed tale told to you via Voice as you wake up. Marriott is leading the way in branded content, so this is a logical next step.
Copyright © 2018 Brian Newman, All rights reserved.

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