How a unique approach to storytelling delivered industry-leading results for a franchise film release

Emily Miller, Kelly Collier October 2019 Video

A brand’s total addressable audience typically includes two distinct segments: those who are already loyal to the brand or have bought into its product, and a broader, more general audience who might not have that brand connection. So how do brands create messaging that is unique to each audience while driving the same outcome? Universal Pictures used video ad sequencing and saw blockbuster results.

Forecasted to reach $1.2 billion in 2019, Australia’s box office is booming. And while almost all of the year’s top film releases have been sequels, spinoffs, or remakes, audiences are far from fatigued: franchises currently represent 40% of the box office globally.

With “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” a spinoff of its popular Fast & Furious franchise, on the horizon, Universal Pictures wanted to tap into that box office potential and reach as many Aussie moviegoers as possible. That meant Universal Pictures had to get its core fanbase excited about the new movie while also piquing the interest of broader audiences who might not be as familiar with the Fast & Furious franchise.

No stranger to experimenting with storytelling techniques on YouTube, Universal Pictures decided to run a one-of-a-kind video ad sequence campaign with curated content to engage both audience segments.

Serving unique video ad sequences to different audiences

The Fast & Furious franchise is one of Universal Pictures' most successful properties — one that comes with a loyal, existing fanbase. Universal Pictures knew it could get fans to go see “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” because fans are 1.4X more likely to watch the movie in cinema than general audiences.1 But Universal Pictures wanted to appeal to the total addressable moviegoer audience, so it needed to do more to reach non-Fast fans who were on the fence about seeing the film.

Universal Pictures recognised that one creative message wouldn’t be compelling enough to engage both audience segments, so it launched a video ad sequence campaign to tell a unique story to each segment. Using a combination of short- and long-form video ads, its marketing team served a series of three videos to each segment to both build interest and reinforce its message.

Universal Pictures catered to viewers’ passions by serving fans the content they love most about the franchise.

Universal Pictures served die-hard fans a series of three ads focusing on the things they already love about Fast & Furious: the cars, action, and previous films in the franchise.

Universal Pictures served broader audiences content focusing on the film’s characters.

To drum up interest among broader audiences, Universal Pictures served a different series of ads focusing on Hobbs and Shaw and their relationships with other characters.

Creating a successful launch

When “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” was finally released, it opened No. 1 worldwide, including in Australia. Universal Pictures’ video ad sequence campaign undoubtedly contributed to the film’s success down under, driving a 9.2% lift in brand consideration — well above the global average for the category.

In the end, the campaign generated more than 2 million unique views and 19,000 hours of watch time on YouTube. The tailored approach also drove deeper engagement with fans and higher views and impressions with non-Fast fans.

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The campaign proved that Universal Pictures’ addressable audience was much larger than it thought. By pushing its creative assets even harder and following up with repeat messaging, Universal Pictures was able to connect with a broader audience beyond its core fans.

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