The average documentary film takes two and half years to produce. Whole Foods Market and HSUS asked us to do it in 6 months. Furthermore, our director was determined to avoid “gotcha” hidden camera tricks, which meant building trust with notoriously media-shy farmers and food producers.

From pre-production through promotion, this project was a challenge that engaged our entire team—writers, designers, developers, strategists, directors, editors, and producers.

Strategy

How do you break into a crowded documentary marketplace? First you make a great movie. Then you build a passionate fanbase to help you spread the word.

Our team orchestrated a nationwide theatrical release in 55 theaters on July 13th, 2016. This single-day special event was preceded by invitation-only screenings for critics and press in Los Angeles and New York. Leveraging critical and commercial buzz, we deployed a multiplatform marketing campaign with the goal of filling theaters and catching the attention of a major distributor.

  • Tell a relatable, unbiased story
  • Cultivate an engaged audience
  • Generate critical acclaim and interest
  • Use social proof and scarcity to motivate people to see the film on day one
  • Attract the attention of a distribution partner

Tactics

On the content side, our team created more than 90 assets including posters, trailers, a responsive website, social posts, paid advertisements, screening kits, email newsletters, promotional videos, a 21-day impact campaign, and a virtual reality mobile application. All of this content was utilized across channels and by any partner or media outlet to ensure a consistent user experience and increase perceived value.

On the marketing and public relations side, Emergent Order identified, targeted and contacted high-affinity national and local organizations to become screening and outreach partners. Simultaneously, a paid Facebook campaign geo-targeted individuals within a 20-mile radius of more than 55 participating theaters nationwide to promote the trailer and drive ticket sales. Meanwhile, Google Search and YouTube ad buys ensured discoverability and boosted awareness. And behind the scenes, community managers monitored comments and engaged fans through social media and email.

  • Original Content: More than 90 cohesive identity, marketing and sales assets
  • Facebook Targeted Advertising: Custom pixel tracking for visits and signups
  • Facebook Custom Audiences: Email list matching, lookalike audiences, and retargeting
  • Twitter Direct Messaging: Targeted outreach
  • YouTube In-Stream Advertising: Trailer promotion and web cards
  • Google Search Advertising: First position search ads for 20 key terms
  • Onsite Ticket Widget: Dynamic reflection of current screenings and ability to buy tickets
  • MailChimp: Onsite lightboxes, custom templates, list management and marketing automation
  • 21-Day Impact Campaign: Email newsletter with actionable guidance promoting the film’s messages
  • Community Management: Average social and email response time of 15 minutes
  • Virtual Reality Application: Android and iOS companion app used at events and screenings
  • Tugg + Community Screenings: 55 theaters nationwide on one day plus option to organize your own