Universal Pictures and Brigade partnered to create a unique social media campaign for The Purge, to differentiate it from other films during a crowded Summer 2013 box office season. A social strategy was devised that would play upon the concept, themes, and unique situations presented in the film. Social media creative and content challenged users to put themselves in the world of The Purge, asking them to share reactions on how they would #SurviveTheNight. Users responded in droves, pushing the film to be #1 at the box office its opening weekend.The social media initiative for The Purge took an intriguing, speculative high concept and made it extremely relatable and relevant to moviegoers, in such a way that they were compelled to engage and share. The efforts executed across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram all took advantage of the interest that users had in the film, and built upon fan excitement leading up to and through the weekend of release. The social media campaign in support of The Purge was widely credited by entertainment and digital marketing analysts to the film’s box office success.
The idea of “what would you do” became the central focus of the social media efforts that were made in support of the campaign. The film is based on the premise that in the future, an annual 12-hour period called "The Purge" has been implemented when any crime can be committed without penalty. Social media content was created that consistently provoked the question of what it would be like to live in the world of the Purge, encouraging fans to care and share. This included the creation of propaganda material ("The Purge: Keep our nation strong"), public service announcements ("During the annual purge, emergency services will be suspended"), question cards ("Can you trust your friends on purge night?"), and countdowns to The Purge itself (the premiere of the film).
Users on social platforms were extremely responsive to the key question around which the film was marketed, “Will you Survive the Night? #SurvivetheNight served as the official hashtag for the film and was utilized as a provocative question on both social posts and on Twitter, which sparked significant organic conversations and further raised the profile of the film. While #SurviveTheNight was the primary hashtag, fans created their own taglines and hashtags to support the film. For example, #ifthepurgewashappeninginreallife became a top trending hashtag on the day of release; users took the film’s premise and made it their own, with humorous and enthusiastic tweets such as “#ifthepurgewashappeninginreallife the next day would be super awkward. Like ‘Sorry about murdering your family Bill. We still on for golf?’” Fans also created a lot of their own Twitter handles independently inspired by the film, such as @ThePurgeList.
On Facebook, images and videos were eagerly shared by fans, garnering extremely strong virality rates between 3-5%, peaking in the week leading up to release. The page as a whole also exhibited strong organic growth, where over three quarters of the likes garnered were organically generated. Currently, the page has close to 900K likes.
The campaign was taken a step further creatively through the use of a robust Tumblr page that capitalized upon the creation of multiple GIFs from key moments of The Purge to tease the film. Along these lines, we created the first cinemosaic GIF ever utilized by a Universal Pictures social media campaign, a mashup between the official poster art and clips from the film. These specific posts received the strongest engagement numbers out of all the creative units that were posted to the platform, the most popular of which generated over 80,000 notes . These GIFs were also used to test larger ads on Tumblr, at the time that the mobile in stream beta unit was new. The Purge GIF ended the year as one of the Top 20 advertising GIFs on Tumblr featured on Adweek, ahead of popular entertainment offerings like The Walking Dead and This is the End, national brands like AT&T and a GIF of cats DJing! The Purge is a perfect example of the innovation that should be showcased in the Best Use of Animated GIFs category.
The below cinemosaic was composed of nine separate GIFs, received over 64,000 notes on Tumblr, and was featured on Adweek
Finally, on Instagram, to recognize enthusiasts of the film, we reposted and shared images posted by fans of The Purge. Users posted images of themselves wearing masks in front of posters for the film, which was unsolicited and not incentivized. This type of content speaks to the extent to which fans invested in the film, and our efforts served to highlight their enthusiasm.
As mentioned, the social media efforts were largely credited with the box office success of the film, a first for a non-franchise theatrical release. The word of mouth and buzz generated across social platforms led various entertainment news and trade outlets such as Yahoo! Movies, USA Today, The Wrap, Deadline and LA Times to examine and credit the impact the social media campaign had on box office performance – particularly when audiences are empowered to take ownership of a film. It is for these reasons and those previously mentioned that Universal Pictures and Brigade should be awarded the Shorty Award for Best Social Media Campaign for Film.
Articles about the effect of social media on the film’s success: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2013/06/09/purge-ethan-hawke-box-office/2405749/ http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/purge-surges-social-media-ahead-friday-debut-95336 http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-talk/purge-raging-twitter-facebook-social-media-success-mean-171343247.html http://intelligentdesignsmedia.com/2013/06/10/the-purge-wins-social-media-and-the-movies/ http://www.smartbrief.com/06/07/13/horror-flick-purge-catches-fire-social-media-users#.Ut4AkRAo6Hs http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/07/entertainment/la-et-mn-the-purge-movie-twitter-trending-20130607 http://www.adweek.com/news/technology/top-20-tumblr-ads-year-154354 Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thepurgemovie Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/UniversalHorror Tumblr Page: http://universalhorrorfilms.tumblr.com/ Tumblr Cinemosaic GIFs: http://universalhorrorfilms.tumblr.com/post/52218866446 http://universalhorrorfilms.tumblr.com/post/52069149574 Instagram Page: http://instagram.com/thepurgemovie
Doug Neil , EVP, Digital Marketing, Universal Pictures
JP Richards , SVP Digital Marketing, Universal Pictures
Leigh Godfrey , Director, Digital Marketing, Universal Pictures
Tom Cunha, Partner, Brigade
Jason Sawtelle, Creative Director, Brigade
Ashley Richardson, Social Media Supervisor, Brigade
Leo Weiss, Designer, Brigade
Stefanie Vitale, Social Media Manager, Brigade