International Marketing Strategy at Warner Bros. (3 of 3)

In the previous two posts I wrote about how a movie trailer is conceptualized, created, and brought to market, as well as what the overall feature film marketing process looks like at Warner Bros. In both cases the trailer plays a key role in the advertising campaign, oftentimes laying the foundation for the entire marketing strategy.  Because a trailer’s look and feel is determined by a variety of stakeholders, a trailer is more than simply a promotional piece, but rather a fine-tuned production that is the result of a variety of inputs, which ultimately determines what about a film should be emphasized, packaged, and disseminated. Furthermore, a trailer serves as the starting point for the rest of the creative process which includes, but is not limited to everything from TV spots, radio ads, billboards, movie posters, and promotional items to web sites, internet campaigns, mobile strategies, and home video packaging.

In part three of my video interview with Tony Syslo, Vice President of Marketing Services at Warner Bros. Pictures, we discuss the process of adapting a marketing campaign to international markets:

Cultural Considerations

It is important to keep in mind that culture is one of the most critical factors for marketers to consider when introducing a new product or service to a foreign market. Subtle differences within cultures can hinder the coordination on international marketing strategy given the dynamics of the international market.  There have been many studies that have examined the relationship between culture and international marketing strategy. From an article in the Journal of Global Marketing, the effect of cultural distance on international marketing strategy is analyzed. The author writes:

One of the major barriers to standardized advertising campaigns is cultural dissimilarity across global markets. Consumer literacy, educational level, and sociocultural customs are key factors to be considered when selecting a standardization or adaptation promotion strategy. Previous empirical studies have found that the degree of promotion adaptation is significantly related to the cultural difference between the home and the main target market. The distribution strategy should also comply with the main export country’s cultural values and preferences, including shopping behavior, location preferences, and inventory policies.

The Matrix Revolutions

One of the best examples of a successful global adaptation to international markets was the release of ”The Matrix Revolutions” (part three of the Matrix film series). Warner Bros. took advantage of the global appeal of ‘The Matrix Revolutions” by choosing to open the film simultaneously worldwide in 43 languages and on more than 10,000 screens.  As a result of this strategy, “The Matrix Revolutions” recorded the industry’s second-highest Wednesday opening, as well as the biggest R-rated opening of any November until that date. The strategy was implemented partly to impede piracy by ”globalizing” the film immediately. But it is also meant to turn the film’s release into a big moment — to ”event-ize” the movie. More detail on the strategy is below:

“The Matrix Revolutions,” the widest global opening ever, launched on approximately 18,000 prints in 109 markets, on six continents over multiple time zones. “The Matrix Revolutions” was also released simultaneously in 60 IMAX theatres around the world. In addition to the original English version, the film was translated into 42 different languages including Japanese, French, Russian, Italian, German, Hungarian, Thai, Spanish, Mandarin, Hindi, Tamil, Telegu and Turkish dubs.

During this simultaneous global release, “The Matrix Revolutions” opened at 6 a.m. in Los Angeles, 9 a.m. in New York, 8 a.m. in Mexico, 2 p.m. in the U.K., 3 p.m. in France/Italy/Germany/Spain, 10 p.m. in Taiwan, 11 p.m. in Japan/Korea and 1 a.m. (on November 6) in Sydney and Melbourne.

In short, while taking the subtle nuances of other cultures into consideration when fine-tuning a creative advertising campaign for international adaptation constitutes just one component of a successful international marketing strategy, it is equally as important to consider the unique opportunities for servicing and distribution tactics.

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