How Social Media Revived The Muppets
The film release is the culmination of a multi-pronged marketing campaign that has embraced the social and digital spheres, and in the process, helped reinvigorate the Muppet brand.
It’s rare to see such solid execution on so many digital and social channels and for that reason, we wanted to take a deeper look at the various aspects of Disney’s and The Muppets Studios’ efforts.
Going Viral to Revive Interest in a Brand
Over the last two years, The Muppet Studios has embarked on a proactive social and viral campaign. It all started with an epic cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and was followed by more songs, iPhone apps and responses to episodes of Internet backlash with just the right amount of aplomb and visual humor.
In retrospect, the timing of these viral video endeavors was perfect. It coincided with the original announcement that a new Muppet film would be coming to theaters.
Getting the Right People Involved
The key to a successful project, especially when it involves a storied and beloved brand, is having the right people on board.
Jason Segel co-wrote the script for the film alongside his Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller. If you’ve seen Marshall, you know why this is important. Both men are bonafide Muppet fanatics and already had a working relationship with the Jim Henson Company.
After Disney decided to greenlight the project, two members of Flight of the Conchords — James Bobin and Bret McKenzie — signed on to direct and handle music supervising duties. Amy Adams also signed on to star in the film alongside Segel, Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest.
As a huge fan of The Muppets, I know my interest in the film was greatly enhanced by the fact that Segel was so involved with the script and the storyline. There is a sense of trust that the brand, characters and situations will be handled properly.
Using Social Effectively
Over the last eight months, Walt Disney Pictures has done a lot to virally and socially promote The Muppetsacross social channels.
In fact, we would go as far as to say that the campaign for The Muppets is one of the most socially savvy we have seen from any studio for a major release window. Let’s take a look at some of the ways social and digital have come together to promote the film, connect fans and spread the word.
The official Muppets Facebook page has more than 1.1 million fans and individual characters like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Animal have their own fan pages and campaigns. The Facebook pages have been well-utilized to spread informational and video content.
Disney also created The Muppets Fan-A-Thon on Facebook to entice fans to “Like” various characters, pages and videos in a bid to unlock advance screenings. Cheekily asking for “1 bazillion likes,” the campaign has yielded over 2 million likes since it started.
Disney acquired the game maker Tapulous back in 2010, so it makes sense that Tap Tap Muppets would hit iOS. Mobile video app Viddy also has special pack that lets users insert characters from The Muppets into their videos.
Stars from The Muppets — including Jason Segel — even appeared in a Google+ Hangout. You can see the highlights in this YouTube clip:
YouTube has had a huge role to play in promoting the film and the brand itself.
Not only have Disney and Muppets Studios used YouTube to great effect in creating viral music videos, they also created movie trailer parodies spoofing other blockbuster films like The Hangover Part II and The Green Lantern.
Most recently, YouTube was used to release a new video preview of The Muppets Soundtrack, using commenters from negative YouTube users to pepper the soundtrack preview. We love it.
Saturday Night Live
Of course, no media campaign would be complete without involving traditional outlets. Jason Segel hostedSaturday Night Live last night and his monologue included some special guests (above).
The Box Office Test
Early reviews for The Muppets are overwhelmingly positive, and the film is tracking to be a big success at the box office. Still, we’ll have to wait until the 23rd to see if all the social campaigning and digital interaction have paid off.
I’m going to see The Muppets over the holiday weekend. What about you?