Adele Lim’s directorial debut, Joy Ride, is a comedy that follows the journey of four unlikely friends navigating the complexities of friendship, identity, and self-discovery on an epic cross-continental adventure. With an AAPI leading cast, Joy Ride provided a special opportunity for the AAPI community to see themselves in a major studio comedy in a way that has never been done.
Throughout the campaign, Lionsgate and Tremendous ensured that the film, from production to release, was as authentic and inclusive as possible to the range of AAPI experiences and communities. Curating campaign moments that were both effective in the film’s publicity and marketing that were meaningful to the AAPI community, we aimed to celebrate and highlight the cultural and socially nuanced elements that resonated within this audience. This included collaborations with key AAPI influencers and community organizations nationwide, a Comedy Night highlighting AAPI/BIPOC and LGBTQ+ talent, dedicated screenings and discussions for transracial adoptee communities, and impactful digital content - we cultivated a strong emotional connection between the AAPI community and the film.
The publicity campaign focused on online, social, and broadcast coverage to help amplify the film’s reach and continue to generate buzz among Asian Americans. Ultimately, our goal was to cultivate strong advocates for Joy Ride and maintain momentum leading up to its release through a creative campaign that intersected with both the AAPI community and the universal themes of the film.
Aiming to celebrate the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community with authenticity, the Joy Ride film campaign ensured that this core audience’s experiences and identities were considered thoughtfully across all moments from the beginning.
GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS AND INCLUSION
Lionsgate and Tremendous partnered with impactful community organizations like CAPE, Gold House, The Universal Asian, The Center of Asian American Media, The Very Asian Foundation, AAPI ERGs and more. This proved instrumental for cultural alignment, garnering grassroots community support, and spreading awareness of Joy Ride. Throughout the campaign we ensured that community leaders were involved with an active voice in the campaign like at the SXSW World Premiere.
Inclusivity, a core value throughout Joy Ride, was also incorporated in its AAPI Comedy Night during Pride Month at the historic Comedy Store in LA. This event not only celebrated AAPI comedians but also uplifted the LGBTQ+ community. Hosted by Sherry Cola, the lineup included BIPOC LGBTQ+ comedians and cultivated more champions for the film in addition to creating a safe, welcoming space for all to share a night of laughter.
One of the main pillars in the story of Joy Ride included the transracial adoptee experience. To consistently highlight inclusivity, especially within this community, the campaign hosted dedicated screenings for transracial adoptees in St. Louis and Washington DC, which led to impactful discussions of not only the film but the overall representation of the adoptee experience in Hollywood. The initiative resulted in meaningful next steps in how milestone projects like Joy Ride engaged their particular community and resulted in core guidelines for future film and television projects.
Partnerships ensured that Asian owned or led businesses were supported including collaborations with Asian American Girl Club, The Boba Guys, Jollibee and more.
AN AUTHENTIC AND CULTURALLY ALIGNED CAMPAIGN
From the smallest detail to the biggest activation, every moment was treated with respect for its talent, filmmakers, and core audience. In order to establish a respectful space for filmmakers, talent and the film’s core audiences, an AAPI name pronunciation guide was created to ensure that names and identities, which have been historically trivialized when regarding the AAPI community, were properly addressed. This guide was distributed throughout the campaign and ensured a safe space for all involved. This was a campaign moment that helped set the tone from the beginning, specifically including the gender pronouns of all talent involved. We wanted and needed to get it right, even the smallest details made the biggest impact.
AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH
Lionsgate and Tremendous ensured that inclusivity and authenticity were values shared across all studio teams and partners ranging from publicity, marketing, DEI, digital, social and partnerships. All teams researched thoroughly, remained sensitive to cultural nuances, and consistently sought feedback from AAPI partners and communities to enhance our support for both the AAPI community and the universal narrative of Joy Ride. Overall, it was a moment to be celebrated with the Asian American community.
“I guess this is what it feels like to be a lead in your own story.” - Ashley Park
Joy Ride represented a huge milestone in diverse AAPI representation. Through strategic partnerships, creative content, focus on inclusivity, and thoughtful execution, Lionsgate and Tremendous’ AAPI Joy Ride campaign garnered an estimated audience reach of 4.41 billion across digital and social coverage with total coverage views estimated at 13 Million as of September 9, 2023. Lionsgate’s commitment for Joy Ride’s widespread reach to audiences, with a focus on AAPI audiences, contributed to Joy Ride’ immense audience reaction and critic response – maintaining a 91% Rotten Tomato score.
The campaign embraced open discussions, ranging from celebration to discourse – leading to actionable steps in how the AAPIs are seen and valued in Hollywood. With the transracial and transnational adoptee community, for example, screenings and dialogue sparked guidelines and case studies in how their specific stories can be better told in film.
The Joy Ride campaign allowed AAPI audiences and stories to step outside of the model minority myth, combat AAPI stereotypes and resonate with the universally messy truths that come with being human. It allowed viewers to connect with a new perspective and unexpected nuances of Asian Americans and their experiences.
“In a country that continues to ignore, dehumanize, fetishize and brutalize women of Asian descent, a movie like ‘Joy Ride,’ that casts [Asian Americans] as complex, three-dimensional human beings with their own unique and interesting personalities, feels direly needed and long overdue.” - CNN