So one of the classes I’m in this fall is Transmedia Marketing for Book Publishers. It’s taught by Kathi Inman Berens, the newest faculty member in PSU’s book publishing program.
The class is pretty cool. While I have to admit I am struggling a little because I’m also taking her Concepts in Digital Publishing and there’s a bit of an overlap, the Transmedia Marketing class is pretty fascinating.
So what the heck is transmedia marketing?
Well, let me tell you. Basically it’s a form of marketing that uses social media and digital publishing to allow multiple entry points for a work and expand the story. It’s a type of worldbuilding across different platforms, where the content is specific to that type of platform. It also cultivates a participatory culture, where fans actively share, create, and play with their content.
A great example of this from class that we’ve read about but haven’t yet talked about is The Hunger Games and how they marketed the movies. We all know the currently released movies were huge, and we have the ability to look back in the past and analyze why that is so. So why was it so successful? Well, of course it’s because THG had a huge fanbase to support it to begin with, but a main reason, perhaps, is because the transmedia marketing for it was strong as hell. For the Catching Fire movie, specifically, it was a great mixture of social media and fan participation, as well as the creativity of the ad agency Ignition Creative.
Note: I got most of this information from the Transmedia Marketing Case Study: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire blogpost, written by Christine Weitbrecht on Thoughts on the T, if you’d like to read it.
So what did IC actually do? They had IRL high-fashion billboards with “Capitol Couture” written on them and if the people googled capitol couture they would be taken to a Tumblr, Twitter, Youtube, and website specifically for the Capitol. (This could also demonstrate additive culture, because the fans would know instantly that it was from THG but new people would just be intrigued by it. Don’t quote me on that, though, as I’m still learning what that term means.)
The various social media accounts reflected different aspects of THG. For example, the Tumblr was fashioned like a magazine—with IRL fashion brands and writers—people from the Capitol would read, with updates on events in the Capitol, what it was like in the Capitol, and updates on the various characters in THG world. They also had IRL fan challenges, where the fans could upload fashion statements of their own.
The website was the Citizen Control Center of Panem (where viewers had to get ID cards and had the ability to unlock new content), the Facebook and Twitter accounts were the Capitol/Panem Government center (where they had ideologic messaging one would find in the Capitol like “Respect Boundaries” as well as Facebook pages for each district), and the YouTube was the Capitol TV (where they uploaded official trailers and fan-made videos).
Aside from the fan-made content, the information isn’t new, it just amps up the original world by reflecting the life of the Capitol and allows the fans to be immersed into THG world, like they’re really there living it with these characters.
Now, the official website has changed to reflect the upcoming movie—Mockingjay, Part 2—but there are still pretty cool features. For example, it looks and sounds like a governmental-issued website, but if you hover over a certain part, it changes and you can join the “Revolution.” Seriously, go do the thing, and you’ll be amazed.
From a fan perspective, it’s just freaking cool.
Under the lens of this transmedia class, it’s quite the interesting idea in the storybuilding aspect of THG world. It was an amazing transmedia marketing campaign ,and something that is aspiring to look at. (Also it’s freaking cool.)
So, what do you think? Is this the future of marketing? Is this what authors and publishers should consider doing?
I certainly think so.