Brands and marketers, as detailed here, are embracing using real people in their ads as a way to create more “authentic” connections with the consumer audience. It’s not that new an idea, as anyone who’s seen a commercial where someone is identified as an “actual customer” or “not an actor” can attest. Even before that, brands would run contests where housewives were encouraged to write jingles or slogans for their favorite products.
Now it’s been revitalized in the age of influencer marketing and other tactics because, as so many studies in the last several years have shown, younger people in particular don’t always put a lot of trust in traditional advertising.
It’s something studios are increasingly latching on to.
There have been a wave of “fan reaction” videos officially released as part of film campaigns. Most recently those have been for Fantastic Beasts 2 and Suspiria but there have been plenty of others.
It’s just the latest example of a company or industry coopting a fan-created media form into its official marketing efforts.
Such videos have been common on YouTube for several years now, with fans filming themselves as they watch some video they’ve been looking forward to and are excited about and then posting the video for others to watch. It’s part of their online brand and persona that they get worked up about such things and share their giddiness.
According to a recent Ars Technina roundup, part of the reason these videos are so popular is that they tap into the same emotional networks as elaborate proposal videos and other big moments. We get excited when we watch someone be excited, just like when we sense someone is angry or nervous we have a tendency to adopt that same emotion.
Hollywood wants to tap into that. It wants to convey the message “These people are so excited they can barely contain themselves,” or “These people are so disturbed by what they’re seeing” and promise the secondary audiences – those watching the watchers – that they will feel the same way.
So much of what studios have been trying to do in the last decade is turn every movie into an experience. That’s part of the reason more and more movies are coming out in IMAX and other premium formats and why what’s actually released in theaters is mostly big event movies, with smaller dramas relegated to limited release or streaming platforms.
This is part of that. They want to tell the audience that when they choose to go see this movie in theaters they will feel something, often something strong and outsized. Every roller coaster will feature bigger and faster loops and turns, essentially.
Having real people share that is, the thinking appears to be, a stronger sell than a narrator or on-screen copy making the promise. That makes sense since people have long reported they put more weight behind the recommendations of friends and peers than in traditional advertising. Much like the broader influencer marketing tactic, bringing friends and peers (or at least the nebulous “people like me”) into traditional advertising and marketing may not get all of that additional trust, but it’s more than would be allotted otherwise.
More and more studios will do this with their big movies, at least right up to the point where some other form of consumer-generated media comes along that has more power and influence.