Eli Roth is Trying to Innovate the Movie World with His Recent Digital Marketing Strategy

Empty Theater ChairsEli Roth is known for his work directing, producing, writing, and acting in movies, usually of the horror variety. His latest work, The Green Inferno is a gore-filled thriller about a cannibalistic tribe in the South American rain forest, somehow inspired by some combination of social media, Occupy Wall Street, and Kony 2012, according to Grantland.com

If you’ve heard about it, it’s probably because he wanted you to. Okay, maybe not you specifically, but the type of demographic you would fall under. In an effort to buck tradition, Roth is forgoing the usual movie marketing plan of spending tens of millions of dollars (for low-end releases that number is typically around $30 million) and utilizing a new way of digital marketing that focuses more on getting the word out to the right people, according to Wired.

“In today’s world, the worst thing you can do, the stupidest way to try and reach an audience, is to spend millions and millions and millions of dollars blasting everywhere because you’re just making more noise and you’re not hitting your audience,” Roth said. “We have $8 million, and that’s to put the movie in theaters, do the posters, cut all the clips. Everything.”

By using public sites like Facebook, Roth and his team are gathering as much data on consumer reaction and response as they can in real-time. The goal is to in a sense “limit” the marketing to parties that could have a predisposed interest in the subject.

In other words, there’s no sense in spending a couple million dollars advertising the movie in a middle-aged women’s magazine if the likelihood that many of them will want to see it just isn’t that high. Although, some of the results have been contradictory to what they expected.

“The horror fans are going crazy, but as a test we tested against Selena Gomez’s audience and Taylor Swift’s, just to see, we found teenage girls went crazy for the hardcore gory clips,” Roth said. “It wouldn’t have been my intuitive pairing, but the data is telling us that the audience is going insane for it. So we can now retarget spots and redirect.”

The filmmakers can then decide to spend money on specific areas of online or offline marketing that will target exactly who they think will want to see it. It’s a trend that is similarly happening in other areas, as 70% of marketers in one survey reported that they are now using website optimization lessons for their offline campaigns and communications.

Roth’s goal is to prove that these new ways of using digital marketing can be the future for the movie industry, especially independent films that can’t compete with the big blockbuster budgets.

“If this movie makes $10 million then everyone is doing really well and then we can do another one — that’s the idea,” Roth said. “It’s very hard making independent films for money. So if this works with Green Inferno it can really open the door. Because why put an ad on the ‘Kardashians’ if most of the people watching don’t want to see it?”

Well played, sir.

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