Do you want to be a good viral marketer? M3GAN, the low-budget horror movie about an artificial intelligence doll that took Hollywood by surprise by grossing $150 million worldwide as of the start of February, is a perfect example of how low-budget horror movies can be. M3GAN proved that smart marketing can still get people to watch a movie.
There are three lessons to be learned from the film.
One of the main challenges of the film was differentiating the title character from Wan's other killer doll star, who first appeared in the film
It's technically not a doll. M3GAN is an artificial intelligence creation. We thought it would be fun to make a movie that's similar to the movies of the past.
M3GAN's director told Vice that he was very specific with the design team that her look needed to be "iconic and sassy" to attract a new generation.
When marketing a product that is a new spin on an old idea, be sure to show what makes your product different and of the moment.
The filmmakers had to prove this wasn't a typical horror movie, so they communicated that through the first trailer, in which M3GAN is shown dancing in the style of many TikTok videos. The dance went global immediately, as young people around the world tried to recreate it. The TikToks with the #M3GAN, mainly featuring people recreating the dance, have gotten over one billion views.
That was a real thing. The dance scene is a key opportunity for the film's audience. "If you look at the language of TikTok, dance is just fundamental to the content being created there," he said. We always look for user-generated engagement. The marketing team set both trailers to songs that already had a lot of equity on the platform.
The filmmakers recut scenes in order to make the movie more appealing to young people.
Tailoring your marketing strategy to fit in with the content already being consumed by your audience is a pro tip.
Performers dressed as the title character performed on the red carpet. The performers were integrated into the final marketing push for the film after people at the premiere reacted to the real M3GANs.
"If you can do some sort of real-world activation that delights people so much that they want to post about it, that goodwill just goes out the window," he said.
On M3GAN's opening weekend, nearly half of all viewers were under the age of 25. If you can make them feel like they're discovering content, there's a real value to that.
Don't make your marketing plan so inflexible that you can't change it on the fly. Keep yourself open to spur of the moment ideas because you never know where virality will come from.