Our brief was to create a campaign that was going to achieve fame, talkability and widespread appeal for Bright, shaped around its posterboy Will Smith, but without a blockbuster marketing budget.
Why? As its first major, multi-million investment in the script and production, Bright was Netflix's first ever major Original movie.
As a Netflix Original film, Bright could be viewed on phones, tablets and laptops in over 190 countries, released to everyone at exactly the same time. It was the first film that showed Netflix was ready to compete with Hollywood's major production studios. Therefore, Netflix wanted a campaign that screamed "blockbuster". The film's lead actor was Hollywood superstar and global influencer Will Smith. But like many Hollywood actors, Will couldn't come to Australia to promote the movie, so when we were given 5 minutes of Will's time we knew we had to make it count.
We couldn't get Will Smith to Australia, so instead we recruited the best 'Will Smiths' of Australia to promote Bright in his place.
This idea was the core thought that we adopted throughout our campaign. So, whenever an opportunity cropped up to promote Bright, we'd have an Australian named 'Will Smith' (or variants of) ready to step in.
Therefore, our strategy meant we needed to find and recruit REAL Australians named Will Smith to step in for the famous one. Our Aussie Will Smiths would then audition for the chance to become Will Smith. We'd train the best ones up, and then dispatch them to promote Bright to the media.
Facebook was the perfect platform to launch our search from. After a quick search we could see there were plenty of Will Smiths based in Australia, and we know people commonly tag their friends names in posts they like. We knew the lure of being the Will Smith chosen to stand in for Will Smith would have fans, friends, families tagging away. When Will Smith profiles started appearing in the comments, Facebook allowed us to reply direct to gather their information easily over private message.
Twitter was our secondary channel, as we knew an idea can trend in no time at all, which is exactly what happened for us. Twitter also allowed fans to contact Netflix directly over direct message so we could continue the conversation and validate them as real Will Smiths. We also posted the call out video to YouTube so media publishers could embed it on their websites.
The hashtag #CallingAllWillSmiths linked all the campaign activity together.
Thankfully, (the famous) Will Smith loved our idea of recruiting Aussie Will Smiths to take on his Bright promotional duties in his absence. So we asked him to record a call out video for us to launch the campaign. As the world's biggest movie star, we knew his involvement was crucial to achieving mass interest and awareness. Netflix were so enthused we ran the campaign in America too.
We edited his video, posting to Netflix Australia social channels asking fans to tag "Will Smiths" they knew in the comments. After the story trended globally, we had Will Smiths from around the world flooding our inboxes.
After reviewing audition videos from real Will Smiths, where they were asked to provide a short video explaining why they're the real Will Smith, we selected the best applicants and rewarded them with an experience where we trained them into 'blockbuster' Will Smiths. We then released the resulting 'Will Smith Training Day' video to Netflix's Facebook page. The training worked, as co-star junkets, media appearances and red-carpet interviews in L.A. followed. We had successfully booked Aussie Will Smiths to promote Bright in more media than we ever expected.
We also created a microsite where unsuccessful Will Smiths (and regular fans) could upload their photos, create their own Will Smith Bright poster and share it on social media.
The campaign was a huge success, as 60 Will Smiths were recruited to promote Bright around the world. Including 9 in Australia.
The launch video trended globally and generated over 9.9 million PR impressions.
Netflix's social media content drove over 13 million impressions in Australia alone.
Earned media highlights included Will Smith discussing the campaign on Jimmy Kimmel Live (approximately 2 million viewers plus 850,000 YouTube views). IGN Facebook Live interviewed our Aussie Will Smith alongside co-star Joel Edgerton from the L.A. premiere. BBC Radio 1 (5.72 million weekly listeners) and major Australian Radio stations discussed the campaign live on air. The famous Will Smith then flew to Australia, meeting our Aussie Will Smiths on breakfast TV show, Sunrise.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer stated "It's [Bright] one of our most-watched pieces of original content, meaning TV show or film, ever".
Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings stated Bright was "a major success and drove a notable lift" in subscribers, their most valuable metric, when reporting the highest quarterly gains in their history.
Reed also acknowledged 'big hits like Bright' "resulted from a combination of great content and great marketing" when announcing their increased 2018 marketing budget.
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