How to market an oscar candidate

With the Oscar Ceremony taking place on the 27 of February, I thought it would be a good idea to give some advice for future film-makers in how they should market their potential Oscar candidates, or more importantly when.

The people who determine the outcome of the Oscar ceremony taking place on the 27th of February are the 5,700 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscar ballots, which they use to vote on various films in different categories, are sent out on the 27th of December and need to be sent back on the 14th of January, otherwise they will be disqualified.

Does this voting process in anyway affect how movies are released? Of course it does! A year is a long time, and many movies are released throughout the year, and thus it is the Oscar voters responsibility to remember all the movies released that year. However, it easy to forget and once the ballots are sent in they can’t be recalled. That is why if a studio has a movie which they believe has the potential of winning the Oscars they will deliberately delay until Christmas period, in the case the Oscar voters might actually forget the movie.

Think about it, which movies have been released this period. I know it’s slightly different in Sweden because we get everything later than in the U.S. But the movies that have come out recently before new years have been: King’s Speech (November 26 nd), Black Swan (December 3rd), The Fighter (December 10th) and True Grit (December 22nd). Not surprisingly these movies are among the favorites to be nominated. So why now? They release them now to ensure that Oscar voters remember the movie when voting and not actually forgetting them if they were released earlier in the year. Not to appear insensitive but the average age of the Oscar voter is estimated to be around mid to late 50’s.

There is also prestige involved with a studio having their movie nominated, and much more when winning. Also there is something called ‘Oscar boost’ that happens to movies when they become nominated or are clear favorites when speculating. It involves generating sales to movies that wouldn’t normally have attracted an audience unless it wasn’t for the Oscar Buzz it was getting. Take Slumdog Millionaire for example. It was released in earlier November and up until the end of December it had generated around $23 million. However, thanks to the Oscar buzz and eventually winning the Oscars, it managed to generate over $140 million.

But if the period leading up to the new years is considered the period when prestige movies come out, then January is considered the period when all the crap movies come out. Recent movies that have come out in January are Season of the Witch, No Strings Attached, The Dilemma and of course Yogi Bear. If you look at the grades of the movies released prior to new years and the ones after, you will find a big differential.

Finally, looking at statistics we find that movies released in the later part of the year are more likely to win the Oscars: Slumdog Millionaire, No Country For Old Men, The Departed etc. The exception to this rule is last year’s winner the Hurt Locker which was released during the summer.

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Nokia <3 Microsoft

It was recently announced that two of the least exciting, yet major actors on the cell phone market have created a strategic partnership. The announcement followed shortly after a memo written by Nokia’s new, firts-ever non-finnish CEO had become public. For Microsoft’s part, its new Windows Phone 7 operating system has been deemed to have reached the market way too late, trailing after innovative iOS and popular Android. The question currently being debated is whether the chosen path is leading toward a shared bright future, or simply a case of the stupid leading the blind. I will in this text take up my argument for this being a success.

An ecosystem built on Windows is sure to affect millions of users and has the potential to become an integral part of their usage instantly. As I outlined in my, in terms of words, overly-ambitious post about the future of the digital consumer, I’m a firm believer in seamless integration between devices through the cloud. This ties well in with Elop’s discussion about how ecosystems are competing in the mobile market today and what implications this has going forward. The ecosystems will only expand until they entail all kinds of devices; to start with computers and tablets.

Although I believe Google and  Apple are aiming toward a similar approach, Microsoft offers two powerful factors: Windows and MS Office. Windows is by far the most commonly used operating system, especially among professionals, as is the case with its productivity suite Office. Business people will be delighted to pick up where they left off in a document as they sit down on an airplane. This might prove to be a quite powerful segment to persuade, pushing Apple back into being something for “creative, young people” once again. Blackberry will of course fight this and a merger with/acquisition by Dell might be close. However, Microsoft offers enormous resources and can be a dangerous competitor. It might be enough to counter Apple’s brilliant innovation on the phone market to make  the phone purchase a consequence of your chosen PC platform.

What further supports my argument of an increased convergence between phones and computers is the recent acquisition of Palm by HP. Later this year, smartphones and tablets will hit the market carrying the Palm-developed WebOS operating system. Not only does this provide more competition and innovation, but it also indicates a development where (smart)phones, tablets and computers move closer together.

I promise to get back to you when I’ve decided about my next phone. Or if so, what my future employer’s choice was.

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The SIME Experience Part 2

SIMEThe SIME Experience part 2 continues with some interesting company presentations and reflections. First up is,

Gowalla– CEO, Josh Williams

Where are we going –the story of Gowalla and the social future?

Having the idea of connecting places online, Josh proposed on the web to his distance relationship girlfriend. Influenced by a previous scrapbook and a  scavanger hunt game he and his girlfriend used to play, he wanted to connect  the places this moment occurred in in real-time. What he did was to share the locations of him and his girlfriend (in real life) through a link to friends and family, enabling all of them to take part of the special moment. The idea of Gowalla was born: sharing personal stories with friends from favorite places and, thus, taking personal life to a new level but keeping integrity.  Let’s rewind the tape even further though to look at contributing factors to Gowallas success. Through previous projects such as the iconfactory – selling icons to websites he had begun his entrepreneurial career as a designer/developer. When he noticed an interest in people starting to share icons, he became interested in why people were fond of sharing them? Case study showed just for socializing purposes. Together with Sean Parker a co-founder of Facebook he started the Causes Company in where he designed charity-games inspiring social awareness and also co-created in building a game on Facebook called Pac-Rat. Seeing how people spent their time sharing icons and social activities such as favorite places, and inspired by colleagues success with Farmville he decided to launch a locations-app on iPhone. Gowalla was launched and took on rapidly.  Josh says: “You now it was as simple as I wish I could capture the moment and share it with my friends”…..”and with the boom in iPhones and Andriods” …”You know a sort of a digital footprint on your phone”.

So how do we use these services to get people to integrate in the real world?

It’s a totem-idea, charms relating to different memories from all over the world cued by icons and peoples memories. It provides people with a modern digital type of passport stamps but takes it further to incl. landmarks, arenas etc. of peoples choices where they can share their memories, stories, shopping etc. Gowalla is really created for people to relate to their memories of different places, people like to share memories and socialize around these memories and activities, then we explore something that is bigger than ourselves together with other people.

The hype out on the web right now makes growth impossible to control, to succeed you need to stay with vision and benchmark competition closely!

What are the fads vs. the future of social platforms and communities?

Fads include:

Checking in – status update for places we go, overload is coming…how to drive value from the experience after you have checked in is key!

Game mechanics – point systems, badges – reward system and recognition will transform itself from today, e.g. twitter- how many followers do you have…new models coming to improve the incentives for individuals to add as many friends as possible. Companies need to learn how to drive traffic, SEO is no longer enough because the developers have outnumbered the platform identity for gaining competitive advantages this way!

Social validation – important, how can people get validation for their social shares online, re-tweets is an example, but we miss the deepening of this meaning…

Technique and platforms of geo-location – blah blah, this misses the point, key is to make it user friendly,  who cares if it’s built up around GPS or WiFi as long as it works…

Everything will be mobile – get off your ass and get moving, knowledge becomes mobile and this is shown to just increase. Memory is defeated by microships. And as devices are becoming more powerful all the time….whooya!

Passive applications are another important area, apps should not interrupt our daily living to the extent that we consciously need to make a choice of what function to use.

Communities are always going to grow  – people sharing their views on the same place, information sharing and gathering, network building, creating content as a social Wikipedia and layers e.g. what is the Gowalla community of Sweden, your village, town, favorite restaurant, hockey arena etc. opportunities, opportunities, opportunities…

Activism and cases – how can social media be used to better the world, Obama presidential campaign, Iran election on twitter, red-cross campaign, OLPC etc.

From Gowalla’s perspective of a double rainbow – don’t just see it, share it and experience it with other people….

/ Mikael

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The SIME Experience Part 1

SIME

After having spent two awesome days @ SIME with some of the world’s most creative minds within online media and business development, I thought I would share some of the contents that was presented. It will be a selective process and come in different parts, beginning with an appetizer in part 1.

Intro SIME: Storytelling and brands, how do social phenomena’s connect?

Facebook is defining the social graph and atmosphere being the world’s fastest growing online social platform. Apple is the social spheres universal hard currency. Google wants to create a ubiquitous media realm, involving creation of features and software for us to drive traffic to our sites and diminishing cultural aspects such as language barriers. Microsoft – makes us move and actively communicate by providing platforms of interaction. Many are the visionary companies that compete for the next big thing, buzzing their networks with elements like augmented reality – moving digital contents across boundaries and implementing them to real life, cloud computing – sharing development across user interfaces and distance to allow for low cost content.

As connectedness is increasingly becoming integrated with our behavior and our tools e.g. cars are more computers than vehicles these days, what does the future hold?

Lee Sheldon’s Grading Procedure might show signs of future education strategy and grading, something previously debated on SSE4M’s blog. For entrepreneurs and start-ups corporations will be the new venture capitalists as the shift of power switches from institutions to the consumer and, thus, to the conglomerates with the largest customer bases.

A new media landscape is already a fact in where the lines between marketing and journalism is becoming more blurry and where the visitor and consumer is becoming empowered to drive traffic to sites and not the other way around. Criteo – is a cool company that has built this into their business model by turning web site visitors into customer networkers based on personalized retargeting banners directing traffic from and to users websites.

We also see a new bread of companies being born in where social and behavioral content is mixed and creates new business opportunities/models, one being the irrational affinity marketing agreement between Chat-roulette and Hustler, redirecting people showing genitals to their website, click-rate funded =)

Social media clubs are being implemented by conventional production companies such as ScaniaScania-kings-club media site- providing for truckers a communication center on the web and along the roads.

Shopping experiences are taken one step further than regular online retail. Vente-privee.com offers platforms and systems for designer brands to sell their collections off and on season to rebated prices in customer created networks.

One could note signs of hyper growth online and this also means a more complicated and fragmented landscape for developers and business to interpret and use… and yet the journey has only begun!

Don’t forget to connect to #sime10 – Hashtag for SIME on Twitter, spread your ideas on screens over sthlm, and ask questions for future speakers and the crew! Write a digital, “cloud computed” book by emailing social media fragmented thoughts to storytelling@sime.nu – and use the new smartphone media apps at
http://m.sime.nu to enjoy digital matchmaking with people of similar interests.

See what the companies has to say for themselves in part 2…

/Micke

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Banned from TV!

Pokerstars.com, the online gambling website, made a commercial for Germany that is not fit for German TV, according to the always so credible newspaper Aftonbladet. Take a look:

Oooh yeaaahhhhh, some good ultra violence there.

To me, it is pretty clear that everyone involved knew that it would never air. If we assume that they did, we can instead discuss the tactic: making a violent video, get it banned from TV, hoping to get press about the banned video linking to it on Youtube and get viewers that way without having to pay for any ad space. Good or bad? And are there other good examples out there?

/Fredric Axelsson, fish

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SSE 4M in 23 songs

As part of the music theme week, I asked my classmates as well as the students that started in the program this fall to submit songs for a Spotify playlist. Here is the result!

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Banks with Beat- a new dawn for the Music industry?

Some days ago Johan Lindgren, the former marketing director of Universal Music Sweden, visited SSE. He gave a funny and bewildering speech about his long career within the music industry – an industry that during the last decade have been accused of both greediness and an unwillingness to adopt to new technologies. But that’s not the whole story.

When Johan quit his job in a record store in the mid 80’s to join Universal – the music industry was all about cocktails, money and rock’n’roll. Business was made in limousines on the way to nightclubs and artists were signed by coin flipping. The big record labels such as Universal, BMG, Sony were the unchallenged king of the hill. According to Johan Lindgren – the industry consisted of music lovers that know very little of business. Still, their companies made huge profits. This was all to change.

In the late 90’s Internet usage went up and so did the illegal downloading. The record labels, used to their convenient monopoly situation, reacted aggressively. Instead of adapting the new technology and use it to their advantage, they stubbornly continued repeating their mantra “A CD is $20, no less”. The only problem was that the customers did not need CD:s any longer and they certainly did not want to pay a fortune for them. Consequently the record labels lost not only money, but also trust. Universal was bleeding and the numbers of employees in Sweden dropped from being a several hundred to about 30 persons. The Golden days were definitely over!

It was interesting to hear this story from a person within the industry – what happens when a monopoly collapses? Why did the record labels only see the threats and not the opportunities of the new technology? However, the perhaps most interesting thing in Johans speech was how crisis also forces creativity.

Today Universal has changed strategy. If customers are less willing to pay for music – there has to be other ways of utilizing on their products and Universal Sweden is now offering their artists and their songs to companies in other industries. Since music’s primary function is to evoke feelings, it is a perfect marketing tool. We already know this from TV-commercials, were music plays an important role. But Universal has taken this power of music to the next level. The Swedish bank Nordea wants to target a young audience and Universal has helped them in this attempt by a close co-operation. Thanks to to this, Nordea’s customers do now not only get access to Universals large music libary, they are also provided with the latest news about their favourite artists and invited to exclusive events when their idol is in town. The result is astounding and Universal is now looking for similar co-operations. It might not bring them back to the good old days (who would like that?), but it is at least a good attempt to evolve the music industry. Cause, as Freddie Mercury once sang, the show must go on…

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