The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards

Thomas & Friends: The Great Race Cinema Launch

Winner in Facebook


Showcase Cinemas had high expectations and ambitious goals with less than 2 months until movie launch:

1. Drive ticket sales for the launch of the new Thomas & Friends: 'The Great Race' movie and most importantly: BEAT last year's ticket sales – when the movie was shown in 150 more cinemas.

2. Reach a new audience: convince parents to take their 2-5 year old kids to the cinema for the first time - a challenging goal as their market intelligence revealed they are not considered cinema goers yet.

3. Cut through a lot of noise from the competition: Parents are a highly competed for audience. We had to convince them to see the movie, rather than take their kids to other popular attractions - such as Thomas Land and Days Out With Thomas. This is especially difficult during the warmer months when parents generally prefer the outdoors.

4. Showcase Cinemas was determined to bring parents back to the world of cinema as their data showed a real drop in demand once couples become parents. Showcase Cinemas is fighting for market share, with increasing competition from home-entertainment options such as Sky, Netflix and Amazon who aggressively market to parents.

Our goal was to generate game-changing results with our unique audience insight technology and learnings from working with similar brands (Fisher-Price and Bob the Builder). So this campaign presented an amazing opportunity to provide ground-breaking evidence for the power of Facebook as a highly cost-effective marketing channel for the entertainment sector.

Strategy and Execution

Our proposed strategy centred on Facebook as the most suitable channel to achieve top results. Parents are highly active and its the best channel to support the ad formats needed to tell a rich story. We aimed to fuel this campaign with our Social Insight Engine (SIE) social ad targeting technology. A technology we developed which has propelled us to becoming the 22nd fastest growing tech start-up in the 2016 Deloitte Fast Technology Awards UK.

Following our recommendation, Showcase Cinemas managed to secure approval from the Mattel team to align this campaign to the popular Thomas & Friends UK Facebook page as a vehicle for driving cinema sales. This presented a beneficial strategic partnership for Mattel: movies that are launched in cinema can boost DVD sales.

Our implementation centred on these key features:

Precise and optimised hyper-targeting approaches to increase success of advertising:

  • We used our extensive audience insights to connect with the emotional side of Thomas & Friends fans, by understanding the motivations and interests that drive them towards purchasing tickets.
  • We further expanded our SIE especially for this campaign, to be able to target parents with 2 siblings (as we know they have a higher propensity to attend the cinema), parents interested in similar movies, entertainment brands, relevant book clubs and 'what to do with toddlers' communities.
  • We carefully tailored the tone of voice as we know Thomas parents are already a highly targeted audience, so our copy had to be especially sensitive to the nature of kids/parent's relationship with the Thomas & his Friends brand – nothing could be too sales pushy.
  • Our creatives highlighted the most popular characters amongst the engines, as we knew this would further increase the success.
  • For the launch post, we promoted a highly engaging trailer first on the Facebook page and then used website click ads to re-target the audience that watched at least 75% of the video - this ensured high levels of interest were already in place.
  • Using insights into wider interests, we created a lookalike audience to reach an even bigger audience with high levels of affinity to Thomas & Friends.

  • Strategic choice of ad formats, mix and scheduling approaches:

  • We produced highly engaging copy (guided by SIE) and optimised creative assets for 10 pieces of paid social content: 6 website click ads, 1 promoted video and 3 promoted posts. The exceptional results for awareness, engagement, and conversion rates of this campaign show that our innovative strategy to combine a promotional trailer video with promoted posts and website click ads worked extremely well for encouraging people to attend this movie launch.
  • We knew our audience are traditionally pressed for time, so only re-targeted parents who had watched the initial trailer for a minimum of 75%, to ensure that they would be truly interested in hearing about the movie launch.
  • We allowed sufficient time for mums to check their diaries before posting further promotional posts following the initial trailer post.
  • Results

    Showcase Cinemas were thrilled with how we exceeded their business objectives. Once the first campaign run was completed, they commissioned a second. We smashed commercial targets, selling over 60,000 tickets. We generated over £300,000 in ticket sales - an impressive uplift of 233% from the target. We exceeded ambitious KPIs by an average of 24% and delivered:

    1. Over 6.8m impressions, resulting in more than 89,000 engagement actions, 488,000 video views and over 25,000 website clicks.

    2. Over 3,200 page likes as a result of our paid media posts and ads and over 2,300 user comments which reinforced the enthusiasm for the film.

    3. A highly positive impact on website traffic: during the campaign over 50% of users clicked the 'Book Now' button on the client's website and over 20% returned to the website, which was seen as hugely successful by the client and proved the quality of the audience and the ability of our adverts to substantially increase their purchasing intention.

    4. Bridget Jones's Baby enjoyed fantastic ticket sales. The client believes that this campaign contributed to reigniting a love of the cinema in the parents who attended, thus opening up additional revenue opportunities.

    5. Mattel welcomed the UCGs and saw an increase in DVD sales.

    We delivered an amazing ROI of £12 for every £1 invested by our client and generated significant learnings which fuel new projects with Showcase Cinemas.


    Entrant Company / Organization Name

    agency:2, Showcase Cinemas


    Entry Credits