Scream’s killer marketing

March 23rd, 2023

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Lowbrow lawsuit. ICYMI, the Supreme Court is taking a break from politics to rule on a surprisingly tricky case about, well, parody products. Apparently, Jack Daniel’s feels that a popular dog toy looks a little too similar to its iconic bottle shape and label. While the case seems silly on paper, it actually raises a few important questions about free speech and trademark infringement.

Let’s hope the court can resolve the claim sooner than later. They probably have way more important things to worry about.

In other news…Scream VI kills with viral marketing, Netflix gives EVs more screen time, and YouTube undergoes a metric revolution.

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Scream VI cuts through the noise with sharp marketing

The Future. Under Marc Weinstock, Paramount’s president of worldwide marketing and distribution, Scream VI killed at generating buzz, leading to a $44.5 million US debut (a franchise-best) and over $120 million at the global box office so far. The out-of-the-box marketing may reinforce that the best way to eventize a movie is to also eventize the marketing in an organic and surprising way.

Scary funHere are some of the stunts Paramount pulled to promote Scream VI:

  • Custom calls from Ghostface to unsuspecting victims (read: potential audiences) — over two million people answered over the course of ten days.

  • Sent Ghostface on a cross-country trek, where the masked killer would hang out “in areas Paramount knew had live cams that people regularly checked in on from home.” Yes, people called 911.

  • Replace the wax figure Ghostface at the Grévin Museum with a person in the costume to scare people.

And when it came to more not-giving-people-a-heart-attack marketing, Paramount had a bit of fun by partnering with BJ Novak’s pop-up restaurant, Chain, to offer the “Stabby Meal.” It sold out in 12 seconds. 

Subvert the tropesScream VI’s success is yet another great example that, for marketing to break through, it has to move past what Observatory (formerly CAA Marketing) founder Jae Goodman calls “interruptive advertising.”  Instead, Paramount risked some extra cash and effort “for the chance that better marketing will give you better results.”

Or as Weinstock puts it: “When the marketing is fun, audiences think the movie is going to be fun and they want to go on the ride with you.” Bring on more good times at the movies.


Netflix makes EVs the star

The Future. Netflix’s new sustainability-focused initiative hopes to make climate a bigger focus in its programming and electrify its physical production pipeline. Considering how much Netflix relies on data for its decision-making, internal research may show that audiences want Hollywood to dream up and live out a more sustainable future in order to normalize the innovations in today’s culture.

Drive timeNetflix and GM’s “EVs On Screen” Super Bowl ad was just the beginning of a bigger partnership.

  • Netflix has revved up an initiative called “Entertain to Sustain,” which hopes to “increase the presence of EVs and the visibility of climate issues within its shows and films.”

  • The initiative gives creators who work at the streamer access to sustainability consultants, EVs for use onscreen and offscreen, and renewable energy sources for set use, such as battery-powered generators.

Hit the batteriesWhen it came to the “EVs On Screen” commercial, Deborah Wahl, the outgoing CMO of GM, said that both companies were looking to “merge our strengths to influence culture, and excite and prepare customers for an all-electric future.” 

For Netflix’s part, the company’s sustainability officer Emma Stewart says that the streamer’s mantra for pushing sustainability on a practical level is “optimize, electrify, and decarbonize.” It’s part of Netflix’s effort to halve its carbon footprint of 78,000 metric tons in 2019 to 43,000 metric tons by 2030… while still making more content.


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What numbers matter? Illustration by Kate Walker

YouTube subscriber counts are now just another number

The Future. In the new Wild West of short-form content, YouTube is going through a metric revolution. Subscriber counts may not be reflective of an actual following for creators. At the same time, views may be just an inflated look at how many people accidentally hovered on your video for a second too long before scrolling past. The key now may be in the consistency of views over a period of time — an actual demonstration of how many people are coming back for more.

The new metricMany creators now consider the once-hallmark metric of “subscriber count” as now nothing more than a “vanity metric.” Why?

  • It’s now incredibly easy to have your subscriber count inflated with the rise of Shorts — of the 50 fastest growing YouTube channels, 47 actively post Shorts, per HypeAuditor.

  • And videos that are posted as Shorts accumulate three times as many views as those posted as more traditionally longer videos.

  • Wait, so what’s the problem? Creators say that the boost in subscribers and views doesn’t actually represent a community — the thing that gives a YouTuber sustained popularity. 

According to Insider, “at last year's annual creator economy conference VidCon, some famous short-form creators with millions of followers walked around unnoticed, or hosted meet and greets where they said no fans came to see them.” Ouch.

Cash countThe irony is that although YouTube is pushing Shorts to compete with TikTok and Reels, long-form videos are still where the money is for creators. 

  • Creators make around $0.04 to $0.07 for every 1,000 views on Shorts.

  • They can make from $1.60 to $29 per 1,000 views on long-form videos.

Shorts may be a race to the bottom for the traditional views-based creator economy. But with brands set to spend $98 billion in ads on short-form content this year, that might be changing.


How do you take your coffee?

There are two different types of coffee drinkers in this world. Those who like to drink their coffee black. And those who like to add a little cream.

According to Dr. Steven Gundry, one of these options is more likely to disrupt digestion, and it might surprise you.


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Today's email was brought to you by David Vendrell.Edited by Nick Comney. Publishing by Sara Kitnick.

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