The Distribution Process
These latter tasks form the process of alerting audiences to the films’ existence.
There are several critical things the distributor must consider in order to create
a productive campaign:
A. Who is the target audience?
The distributor will think about the demographic and psychographic profile of
the target audience.
Demographic profile includes: gender, age, socio-economic class and ethnicity.
There are many measures used for identifying psychographic profiles, however
that most commonly used by advertisers is Young and Rubicam’s 4Cs (Cross
Cultural Consumer Characterisation): www.4cs.yr.com
B. What do the target audience do?
What magazines and newspapers do they read? Where do they travel and how?
What are their interests? What other films are they likely to watch?
The distributor will aim to define everything about the audience, in order to
maximise profit for the film, by targeting advertising in the most appropriate
places. For example, if the audience is unlikely to take public transport, but likely
to purchase political magazines the distributor can avoid tube station posters
and instead buy advertising space in The Economist.
The distributor will find out about their audience through surveys and data
analysis and will divide their data into three areas:
1. Who the audience is
2. What they think
3. Their media
C. Is there a wider audience this film could appeal to?
Major studio projects are so successful because they are mainly family films.
Distributors will look for secondary audiences or whether a film has mass
audience appeal, they may create a number of different poster campaigns for
example in order to appeal to these different audiences. This means they could
advertise the film in trailers and posters as Action/ Adventure (mass appeal),
then Science Fiction and Romance (secondary audience) if there are elements of
these genres in the film.
D. What major cast or crew are involved in the project?
The distributor will consider how to maximise the exposure of key cast and crew,
measuring the successful of their most recent productions will not only allow the
distributor to see what audience/s particular stars attract and perhaps widen the
audience appeal in the marketing campaign, but it will also allow them to see
which stars or crew (mainly the Director/Producer) should feature prominently
in the advertising campaign.
Me and Orson Welles – a British period drama should have predominantly
targeted a C1/B, White Female 35-50 audience, however the inclusion of Zac
Efron opened up options to appeal to a younger, female audience also, thus he
was centralised in poster campaigns.
The Orphanage - the first feature by Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona
should have been a high-risk project, however with the attachment of Guillermo
del Toro (who had just recently won the Oscar for best foreign feature
with Pan’s Labyrinth) as Executive Producer the distributors covered all
marketing with “presented by Guillermo del Toro”.
Coraline - the key feature of the advertising campaign for this children’s
animation was “by the Director of The Nightmare Before Christmas”. A cunning
statement as many people consider The Nightmare Before Christmas to be a
Tim Burton film, though he produced rather than directed it. Henry Selick, often
overshadowed by Burton is not as famous by name as the films he has directed,
therefore a previous film hit of his was named instead of him.
E. The success of similar films recently
This is the point when genre is
important for distributors, allowing
them to identify the success of similar
films at the box office recently. From
this they can analyse their marketing
campaigns, match and improve on
successful ones and consider the
problems in the less successful projects.
This may also be the consideration, which encourages a distributor to turn down
a film. In the 1990s there were few musicals or westerns and even less had been
major successes, therefore a distributor may be wary of these.
Case Study Point
Twilight triggered a zeitgeist for vampire and gothic films aimed at teenagers,
thus Hammer’s decision to remake the Swedish film Let the right one in as Let
me in, an obscure tale about a young vampire girl was pitched at the right time
as the buzz fromTwilight was still influencing audiences’ tastes.
F. Pre-existing Property
Films based on pre-existing property are not only safer as they come with a
ready-made fan base; they also open up more advertising opportunities
as synergybetween the two products can be created.
The film’s unique selling point is crucial to the distributor’s campaign: what
makes the film special? What makes the film worth watching? What are the main
selling points of the film?