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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

SMILE - Viral Marketing

Winner in Brand Awareness Campaign, Entertainment, Integration with Live Television, Integrated Campaign

Bronze Honor in Event & Experiential


Viral marketing campaigns are a popular and effective way for businesses to reach a large audience in a short period of time. The SMILE viral marketing campaign is no exception. This marketing campaign was designed with the aim of spreading awareness and hype, while promoting the upcoming film. Here are the key objectives of the Smile viral marketing campaign:


1.) Raise Awareness and Build Hype: The primary goal of the Smile campaign is to raise awareness and hype for the upcoming release of the film. By strategically targeted public broadcasts with large existing audiences of millions tuning in, (in this case MLB & NFL games, as well as morning shows such as Today show), we set a goal of catching viewers attention


2.) Increase Engagement and Online Sharability: Another objective of the Smile campaign was to increase engagement with the target audience and get people talking about the stunt online. By creating content that people wanted to share and interact with, the movie could be the most talked about upcoming film on the internet, with the goal of getting organic shares and mentioned by large media publications with large audiences online based on how creepy it was to see these SMILEs in the real world.


3.) Generate Ticket Sales: The ultimate goal of the Smile campaign is to generate ticket sales for the film. By creating content that people want to share and engage with, the viral stunt could create a buzz aroiund the title and create a desire to see the film everyone on the internet was talking about.


It was determined that the strategy of the stunt of sending actors to public broadcasts and being on TV could in theory create the necessary hype to drive massive awareness to the film, drive increased engagement and online sharability that would ultimately result in generating ticket sales.

Strategy and Execution

The strategy for our stunt for SMILE was based on the three factors: 1.) Visibility 2.) Sharability 3.) Recognition of the Film.


1.) Visibility-

By guaranteeing ourselves a spot on nationally broadcast baseball games through purchasing tickets behind home plate to be in the vantage point of the live broadcast wearing a bright neon yellow shirt with the word SMILE on it, we sent actors to SMILE as creepily as they could to essentially create a 4 hour commerical. We added in other elements of morning shows such as Today Show and NFL games to give the apperance that at any point and during any live broadcast you might see a SMILE on TV in the real world.


2.) Sharability -

We wanted to create a moment that took viewers by surprise and to spread the word by sharing the content online about what they were seeing to spark the conversation of the movie. By scaring viewers and creating a creepy moment, users were quick to share online about what was happening at multiple baseball games across the US and at other local broadcasts.


3.) Recognition of the Film-

For a movie with a simple name like SMILE, we knew we simply had to put the title into action and take the themes of the movie into the real world by simply smiling. The visiblity of the live broadcasts with bright yellow shirts with the films branding on it, and the sharability that it created, we made it easy for people to tie the stunt back to the film and get people to share it with wider audiences to  spread the word about the movie.


Our viral marketing stunt had a huge impact on SMILE and Paramount Pictures in the following ways:


1.) Awareness and Reach for the Upcoming Film - Our stunt shared by hundreds of thousands of people online talking about the stunt had 170M+ trackable views across all major platforms (TikTok, Reddit, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) of users sharing images and videos of the broadcast and talking about both the stunt and the upcoming film.


2.) Earned Media Opportunities - We're estimating based on the publications that wrote articles and shared videos of our stunt for the movie, we reached an additional 100M+ people. Our viral marketing campaign was featured on CNN, Fox News, NY Post, TMZ, Entertainment Weekly, ESPN, USAToday, Sports Illustrated and more.


3.) ROI for Ticket Sales - SMILE became the #1 movie at the box office with $30M in ticket sales opening weekend (on a $17M production budget) and went on to gross over $216M ticket sales world wide.


Video for SMILE - Viral Marketing

Entrant Company / Organization Name

TriplePlay Studios, Paramount Pictures


Entry Credits