Promoting a major motion picture in the entertainment industry has specific marketing needs and challenges. But, film market operations can offer distinct lessons for the wider marketing community.
On this episode, Ross Necessary, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing Operations and Exhibitor Relations at Lionsgate, joins us to share how some of our favorite films get promoted and distributed.
In this insightful discussion with Ross, we’ll explore:
- What are some of the key steps in movie marketing
- Global and domestic differences in marketing approaches
- Leveraging creative efficiency in marketing products and operations
Helping others be better, faster, stronger, smarter, cheaper
Marketing operations in the film industry are a complex system of beams and supports. Operating as an internal vendor, Ross explains that marketing ops ensure that each team has exactly what they need.
Tasked with providing necessities to the creative, media, and publicity teams, marketing ops often don’t receive recognition for the amount of work they complete. But, according to Ross, this role in the shadows is exactly where his team belongs.
“We produce and distribute the trailers, TV spots, and print material. We don't have traditional measurements to compare against, but we do have measurements of how efficient we're being, and that is a measurement of what you don't see. ” — Ross Necessary
While marketing ops produce many assets and provide what other teams need, their performance cannot be measured simply by output.
Instead, marketing ops performance can be measured by what you don’t see. For example, efficiency and positive performance are shown when there is less overtime, fewer blocked assets, and quick distribution. When other teams move without difficulty, marketing ops typically have a hand in their success.
So while marketing ops cannot be measured with traditional metrics, these talented teams ensure that everyone is better, faster, smarter, stronger, and cheaper across the board.
By adopting a mindset of support and acting as a team player, any marketing operations team, regardless of industry, can reach a higher level of organizational success.
Evergreen marketing in the home entertainment world
Marketing in the film industry can behave differently depending on several factors. For example, some movies are released digitally while others are sent to theaters. Others still are sent directly to DVD publication and streaming.
Each of these release strategies will include a variety of approaches. However, regardless of the method, marketing ops ensure all necessary assets and materials are ready to promote the film.
For example, Ross speaks on marketing for the home entertainment world, which behaves much differently than marketing for theater releases.
“Once you get to the home entertainment world, it becomes evergreen. There's the initial push of the new release on DVD, and then it kind of quiets down. Five, ten, twenty years from now, you're gonna have an anniversary.” — Ross Necessary
When a film reaches the level of success necessary to thrive in the home entertainment industry, it functions as a living thing that fluxes in cycles. Initial sales may be high, but they eventually wane. But, after a set period of time, marketing materials can be reused or revitalized to produce a second, third, or fourth wave of interest.
Because the home entertainment world is somewhat evergreen, marketing ops are required to create marketing that is just as enduring.
In the case of an anniversary film release, marketing assets and materials must be timeless enough to remain relevant but intentional enough to relight the interest and extraordinary experience that viewers had initially.
Supporting success across the board as a backstage team
In the film industry, marketing ops is all about elevating the film production system across the board.
“A rising tide floats all boats, so do whatever you can to help those around you succeed. Their success is ultimately my success.” — Ross Necessary
Marketing ops also function as a final stop for all assets leaving production.
With responsibilities ranging from approving music clearances, ensuring trailers are color corrected, confirming contractual compliances, producing assets, and more, marketing ops is the final stop before any asset before public consumption. Not only does the marketing ops team need to make sure everything is done correctly to support each of the internal teams, but they are also responsible in part for the experiences of all parties.
“Our product isn’t a thing,” Ross explains, “It’s an experience.”
Making sure there is a universal experience of satisfaction is crucial. From the filmmakers, distributors, and the range of viewers, a positive experience is essential in a film’s success and the subsequent return of filmmakers for future business.
Due to the multitude of responsibilities of the marketing operations team, these employees need to have solid backgrounds and expertise across various fields.
Sometimes, this requires partnering with experts or outsourcing best-in-class contractors and employees worldwide. While locality used to play a significant role in marketing operations teams, the expanding digital world and accessibility to remote working systems have allowed the recruitment of the best possible team members from anywhere in the world.
Although the film industry has specific marketing operations requirements, their focus on elevating the entire production system and recruiting the best-in-class can be applied to any industry.