Studios and others seize an opportunity to be part of the new work environment.
Everyone who can is working from home right now because they want to be part of the “flatten the curve” solution to the Covid-19 pandemic. At least those who are empathetic and cognizant of the role we all play in contributing to a functioning and healthy society are.
Few companies are benefiting more from that than video conferencing software Zoom, which has become a favorite among companies, schools and others. The company has seen user acquisition in 2020 already outpace all of 2019, despite the fact that Zoom has frequently – and recently – come under fire for being a privacy nightmare, sending user information to Facebook and others as well as being easily hacked.
Despite that, people have glommed onto it, likely because someone started using it and it just kind of caught on and in defiance of other less creepy options available. One of the first tips to be shared by this new wave of users was that profile backgrounds could be changed, leading to people replacing their unkempt bedrooms with the hallway from The Shining or something else fun.
Studios noticed all of that. Even with no releases hitting theaters anytime soon, there’s still advertising and marketing to be done. And so they’ve embraced Zoom.
There are likely others as well.
Why This? Why Now?
As I stated already, this is an attempt to capture a unique moment in society and quite simply be where people are.
By offering these backgrounds, studios get what is essentially a peer recommendation between individuals. When Carl puts the Maverick background behind him, everyone who’s on the call with Carl takes it as him endorsing the film in some manner. It’s the equivalent of him (or anyone else) putting a movie-branded protective case on their phone or wearing a hat with the logo. So they are generating word of mouth.
It’s also, quite honestly, one of the few options available. People aren’t leaving the house as much as they used to so out-of-home advertising would be kind of a bust. And the entire online ad industry is in disarray as many companies pull back their budgets with tough financial times ahead or seek to place the ads they *are* running on “safe” material. The latter is such an issue media companies are asking advertisers to understand Covid-19 news stories aren’t going to damage their brand.
So it’s a great combination of buzzy and cheap with the potential to stick around for a while.
It’s good to see studios adapting to developments so quickly, but disappointing it’s for something with so many issues. Whatever the case, they’re doing what they can to seize the moment and insert themselves into the general conversation.