Hidden virals

There is a interesting trend surfacing in the world of animation film spotted by Jason Porath. He calls the “Hashgags” and writes about it on his website. He noticed that almost every recent animation film contains some kind of “viral” scene that is deliberately built in to promote the movie. These scenes are never relevant for the storyline of the movie, it’s more af a joke that features one of the characters in some funny way. The driving force behind this, as Jason claims it, are the marketing companies that strategically insert these clips to sell the movie (and the related merchandise). The viral clips are usually inserted late into production and thoroughly tested to see what effect it has. Depending on the movie and the budget, the concept is integrated and used repeatedly or are presented as “one-offs” as an addition to the movie trailers.

Some examples:

You probably remember the Scrat character from Ice Age. He’s not influencing the plot in any way but it is very clever that the movie company included him in the film; he’s funny and you remember the movie.

Disney applies the same principle, but they have bigger budgets, which allows them to create more content for the same marketing goals, but publishes alongside the movie. Monsters University used some trailer Hashgags:

And the same goes for the 2014 hit Frozen, also from Disney. The idea of the snowman and moose fighting over the carrot did end up in the movie, but alongside this content, more viral clips were launched to market the movie.

Jason has a point when he says “it is crippling the entire movie industry”. It’s seems that it’s less about the quality of the film and more about making money. Films can now only survive when these “HashGags” are included and it show’s how much influence marketing can have on content. From a marketing standpoint however I thing it’s interesting. I like the fact that it’s part of a bigger strategy and it’s generating more content around the main product. More content is always good….. right?