Fox Searchlight's Brilliant 500 Treats of Summer Promotion
When it comes to indie distributors, no one is better than Fox Searchlight. They really are the Pixar of the indie film world, not only with films they produce and develop, but also with the films they acquire from festivals - they're almost always great. You probably already know that they've got Marc Webb's wonderfully unique romantic comedy 500 Days of Summer due out in July, but earlier today, Searchlight coordinated one of the best promotions I've ever seen. They really know how to market their movies, especially the ones that people are falling in love with, and this 500 Treats of Summer stunt has created some great buzz.
So what exactly is 500 Treats of Summer? At first, I had no clue what it was either, even though I was sent details early from Searchlight. Essentially it was a grassroots word-of-mouth promotion where Searchlight partnered with various vendors in 6 major cities (Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington DC) to spread some summer joy. These partners included vendors (in LA) like Pink's Hot Dogs, Fiji Water, Kogi Korean BBQ, Sprinkles Cupcakes, and Red Bull. The promotion involved handing out, to the first 500 people, free goodies and a free promo item from 500 Days of Summer.
So here's where it all starts to make some sense. The promo item (seen to the right) was usually a shirt that said "It's Official… I'm In Love With Summer." Those of you that have already seen 500 Days of Summer know that that is actually a great line from the movie. And if you think about it out of context, it's a great way to just say "I love the summer." The way Searchlight is saying that is by giving out free food. One hell of a treat, eh?! So the promo was just giving away free items to people in 6 cities? That's it? Well, the buzz it created on sites like Twitter and Facebook was immense - people can't stop thinking about 500 Days of Summer now.
I didn't realize how brilliant this was until I was searching Twitter to see what people were saying and discovering all of the locations where these freebies were available talking about it as well. Not only were there random tweets that just said that they stumbled across one of these vendors and were so happy to get free food and swag, but then there were the guys like Dan Madonia who "ate 11 Pinks hot dogs." If only I had found out about this earlier, I would've hit the town and stopped by all 7 of the Los Angeles locations. But it was kind of cool to just sit back and see everyone start buzzing about this without knowing much about it. There's even a great site for mini user reviews: 500dos.net.
Anyone who works in marketing knows that freebie giveaways are always a great way to build huge crowds. But there's a difference between just giving freebies away to the masses and actually getting positive buzz out of it. This is exactly what Fox Searchlight has done today - they've created even more positive 500 Days of Summer buzz because they gave people something to make them extremely happy. And when you put all that together, well, it works wonders, especially for an incredible movie like 500 Days of Summer. Bravo, Fox Searchlight, you've pulled off a great promo that proves again how ahead of the curve you always are.