Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Social Media Marketing for Entertainment

We want what we want, when we want it. Remember the time you used to have to go to the library to get information you needed? Now, when we want to know something, we don’t dust off the old encyclopaedia, we grab our iPhone and Google it. We check Twitter to see the latest status updates and we get the information ourselves, instead of waiting for some news outlet to release it to us.

The same changes apply to the Entertainment industry. In this day and age, if you want to release a movie successfully, you can’t just put out a trailer and newspaper ad, and expect people to show up. Social Media has transformed the public’s access to pretty much everything and everyone. You can even follow and send Twitter messages to your favourite actors. Talk about a modern form of fan mail, right?

So what can you do to stand out?

  1. Offer access to exclusive content.

    As a reward for loyalty, you need to give your fans a backstage pass to star interviews, sneak peeks, Livestream interviews, and even behind-the-scenes access to exclusive events with live-tweeting. HBO (a social media role model of mine) has perfected the art of social media branding and marketing, putting their energy into fan outreach. With character and program blogs for some of their most popular shows (Margene's Blog, Lloyd's Diary, Babyvamp Jessica, Inside True Blood), fans get extra content to stay engaged between episodes. Each week, HBO programs hold Twitter contests that get thousands of entries from all over the world. The promotions don’t stop between seasons either, it’s an ongoing process. In promotion for season 3 of True Blood, HBO released a video poking fun at traditional PR, while putting out one new poster ad each week, for the twelve weeks prior to the premiere. Those posters went viral as fans scrambled to collect them all, and created some serious buzz in the process. Most recently, as fans impatiently await season 4 of True Blood, HBO had the entire cast participate in a panel at Paleyfest, to divulge some highly anticipated teasers.

  2. Build your relationship with fans through constant interaction.

    To become more than a faceless brand to fans, there needs to be a genuine connection that will lead to a lasting relationship. This means, you need to answer every question, RT and reply to every Twitter mention, and really establish a dialogue with fans. Rewarding fans with contests and giveaways are also great to boost followers, but the key to keeping those new followers around once the giveaway is over, is a continued flow of exclusive content.

  3. Evolve-Evolve-Evolve.

    Just when you think you have it all figured out, something new comes along. If you start getting too comfortable your marketing routine, you're probably out-dated. Stay on top of new technology and get involved with new social media platforms as they come out.

    GetGlue – it’s about what you like, not what you are like. It's the perfect match for Entertainment brands because fans get recognition for ‘checking in’ to TV shows, movies, etc., similar to foursquare check-ins. Some entertainment brands like HBO and Showtime even offer discounts on online purchases, for a certain number of check-ins. Plus, GetGlue checkins can be connected to users’ Facebook and Twitter status updates so imagine the kind of publicity you can get from that.
    Groupon - the leader in this whole social buying phenomenon right now, with 60 million online subscribers looking for the latest deal. The way it works is, if a certain number of people sign up for the offer, then the deal becomes available. People spread the word using social media, to help make the deal available. Just recently, Lionsgate partnered with Groupon, offering a half-price ticket promotions for The Lincoln Lawyer. Nothing makes you want to buy something more than a deadline for purchase, and a 50% discount. 
We're all fighting to get through the cluttered marketing environment and be noticed. By going directly where fans are spending their time - on social media platforms, it conveys the message that your brand, regardless of size, understands who your customers are and can relate to them on a personal level. Nurturing loyal followers will convert them from passing fans into so much more - life-long ambassadors for your brand.

Big Love Series Finale - God only knows what I'll be without you

The past couple of seasons of Big Love have been kind of a disappointment. For a show that started off so powerful and intricately twisted, it sadly ended up a jumbled up mess of confusion near the end. I haven't even watched all of this season's episodes, but felt I had to at least tune into say goodbye to the family that kept me compelled almost to the bitter end.

(SPOILER ALERT!!!) To tell you the truth, I was more than happy to see Bill die in this episode (morbid, I know), but the twist of 'whodunnit' was a bit anti-climactic. Really - the neighbour?! It should've been Alby or Adaleen who did the deed, after five tumultuous seasons of Juniper Creek vs. Bill Henrickson. Or maybe even one of the wives - perhaps Barb, to really make it interesting.
The surprising part was that it was actually very emotional. Not at all when Bill died because let's face it, he had it coming. He's been a self-righteous, domineering and stubborn husband from the start, demanding his wives make sacrifices he never considered to make himself. I hate that kind of double standard. What got me emotional was Barb, Nicki and Margene. Those three, and not Bill, as it turns out, were the glue holding the family together. Their joyride in Barb's new car, their group embrace at the end - that's what Big Love was all about - the sister wives. I'm gonna miss those ladies and their endless drama. Even Nicki.

The episode itself wasn't all that great, it's hard to tie up five year's worth of loose ends and so a lot was left up in the air. And even though I would've loved to see Bill die a less noble death, it ended as it should have. With the three wives getting on with their own lives - something they never would've gotten to do with Bill around.

Margene's last blog entry, Goodbye Internet. Sad.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Breaking Bad - Cancer Changes Everything
Award-winning Bryan Cranston plays Walter White - a passive and super-geeky High School chemistry teacher who's working two jobs to make ends meet and to get ready for a second child he and his wife are expecting. He finds out he has terminal lung cancer and decides to partner up with an old student of his, using his knowledge and experience with chemistry to cook meth (technically speaking, methamphetamine). Are you intrigued yet? Well, as Walter throws himself into this new life, something changes. He becomes more confident and aggressive, and kind of a bad-ass. Having played it safe his entire life, Walter ends up embracing what's left of his life, almost being set free through his cancer.

It's a lot like Weeds was in the beginning - an inexperienced, straight-laced individual tries to become a criminal in the very dangerous drug game. But it's not a comedy like Weeds, aside from Aaron Paul (Big Love) playing the goofy, stoner. It's dark and twisted - the best kind of humor.

Breaking Bad is about doing things you never thought you ever would, pushing beyond the boundaries you put up for yourself, and walking the fine line between right and wrong. It challenges your morals, addressing the question TV lovers have had to face in the post-Dexter world - Is it wrong to do something bad, if you're doing it for the right reasons? Bryan Cranston is phenomenal as Walter, the way he embraces the devilish side of him, even getting turned on by the dangerous situations he gets himself into. Knowing you're going to die changes everything.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Review: It's a Win-Win with Win Win

Win Win is a breath of fresh air – a smart comedy with genuine, authentic performances that really hit the spot. The story of Mike Flaherty, a struggling family lawyer in New Jersey, who spends his evenings coaching high school wrestling. He’s an easy-going family man who’s having trouble keeping his small practice afloat with the current economic downturn. Suffering from stress-related panic attacks and stuck in a money rut, Mike involves himself in an unethical and almost unforgivable scheme that involves becoming the guardian of an elderly man dealing with Dementia. But, even with Mike's questionable actions, eventually you’re on his side. It’s hard to hate him because you can relate to his sincerity in wanting to help his family; he's an underdog that you want to see succeed.

Of course things don’t work out as planned, as Flaherty finds the old man's teenage grandson, Kyle, on his doorstep. Kyle, having grown up with a druggie for a mother, is emotionally vacant - the ramifications of physical and emotional abuse. It's probably not the most realistic of stories, this kid kind of just shows up and happens to be a star wrestler. But then again, maybe it’s not about the believability of the story but the believability of the characters. Mike nurtures and empowers the young boy like a true father would and you can't help but become invested in each character and their journey, because their family dynamic feels genuine.

Breaking down genre boundaries, Win Win is part comedy, and part waterworks-inducing-drama (Yup, I may have shed a tear or two). And it flows between the two genres quite seamlessly with a fantastic cast, made up of  Paul Giamatti (Barney's Version), Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, The Office), Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), Bobby Cannavale (Third Watch) and newcomer, Alex Shaffer.  I have to say the best part of Win Win was Cannavale. Who knew, back when he was on Third Watch, that he was this funny! His comedic timing and delivery was spot on, and the chemistry between the entire cast, especially Cannavale and Tambor, was almost perfection.

With such a quiet on-screen presence, you immediately fall for Amy Ryan as the morally-centered mom. The epitome of a mama bear, she’s naturally apprehensive about having a cigarette-smoking, ‘Eminem’-looking, 16-year old stranger in her home. This changes when we see that Kyle is surprisingly timid and kind, despite the bleached blond hair and all the tattoos. Speaking of Kyle, what a fresh change - you could tell right away that Shaffer's not an experienced actor. He doesn't so much as act, he just is the damaged teen he portrays, which makes his delivery natural and heartfelt, as it should be. It's definitely a win-win for this one.

Win Win hits theatres March 18th.

Monday, March 7, 2011

True Blood Season 4 Spoiler - Waiting Sucks

True Blood's Season 4 premiere may still be a few months away but for die-hard, fang-banging fans, the fun and anticipation has already begun. HBO has become a social media powerhouse when it comes to TV, known for its fresh and exciting buzz-marketing campaigns to keep fans interested in between seasons. Remember the hilarious True Blood videos and poster campaign from last season? Well, apart from the spoilers that may or may not have been released at PaleyFest this past weekend (the entire cast was in attendance, including the dreamy Alexander Skarsgard!), HBO has just released the first official teaser video for True Blood Season 4. Talk about a teaser! Eric, shirtless, all vulnerable and sad? I am definitely teased.

For those who've read the Sookie Stackhouse series of novels that the show's based on, you know what's going on in this scene. Season 4 picks up right around the beginning of book 4: Dead to the World. So when you see a shirtless Eric, you know what's going on and why Eric's acting all 'deer in the headlights'. Although, I have to say I'm pretty sure he was wandering around naked, and not shirtless, in the book. Just saying.

Waiting Sucks, so hopefully the teaser videos and whatever HBO has planned, will keep us occupied till True Blood makes its return.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

HBO and Showtime 2011 Premiere Dates

The latest HBO 2011 Premiere info for Entourage, Boardwalk Empire and How to Make It in America!

Everyone's favourite spring and summer cable shows are finally coming back to TV! Seriously, I love cable and all, but it's hard to handle the too-short seasons and super-long hiatus between them. The HBO and Showtime networks have released the following premiere dates - so fans, go ahead and set your PVRs to record. Too early? Maybe so, but still...

United States of Tara
 Season 3 (Showtime) starts March 28, 2011.

Nurse Jackie Season 3 (Showtime) starts March 28, 2011.

HBO's finally confirming that True Blood Season 4 (HBO) will premiere June 26, 2011. Thank God, cuz Waiting Sucks.

Weeds Season 7 (Showtime) starts June 27, 2011.

The unofficial word (as in, not directly from HBO) is that the premiere date for the 8th and final season of Entourage (HBO) is July 24, 2011 and I've heard rumors that How To Make It in America (HBO) will be back for it's second season sometime in April 2011, although, according to Lake Bell (Rachel on HTMIIA), they'll be shooting in NYC for the next three months.

UPDATE: The latest, straight from Bryan Greenberg himself, is that How to Make it in America's season 2 premiere date is sometime in September, 2011.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review: Running Scared - the best movie no one's seen

We all have movies we love, that are not exactly Oscar-winners. That favourite movie that you adore for reasons you can't really explain with any sort of high-level film speak. Whether they were Box-office bombs or just plain bad, it doesn't matter because there's something about them that makes you watch them over and over again.

No one, including me, noticed when Running Scared came out in 2006. An over-the-top crime film starring Paul Walker, who's basically made a career out of all those Fast and Furious movies. It's even got Vera Farmiga (before she got all famous and Oscar-nominated), who manages to steal the spotlight in every scene she's in. Her portrayal of a mom doing whatever she has to do, to protect her family, is gut-wrenching and quite impressive.

Although it received mixed reviews, I absolutely love it. The plot follows the characters searching for and running after after a missing gun. It's a dark, excessively violent, mob-movie with twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time. As a huge Tarantino and Scorsese fan, I'm perfectly alright with the over-the-top, brutal violence and blood - in fact, it doesn't feel like a mob-movie without those elements. That's what an obsession with Goodfellas and The Sopranos will do to you.

For Crime Film fanatics - the first four minutes of the movie should be enough to convince you.