For many, Joss Whedon – creator of the cult hit show Firefly as well as the Avengers series – is a figure held in high reverence. In addition to being a hit-maker, Whedon is also known for doing things his own way, as he showed with Dr. Horrible in 2008, so it should come as a surprise to no one that he is doing the unconventional again with his most recent film, In Your Eyes.
The plot of the film, while very Whedon-esque, is not the most intriguing thing about the film. Rather, it is how the film was released and what Whedon decided to do after that is so unique.
Whedon announced at the film’s premier at the Tribeca Film Festival that everyone would be able to download the film from Vemo for $5 after the screening. In the announcement Whedon said, “This is exciting for us because it means we get to explore yet another new form of distribution… and we get $5.” But Whedon and his team were not going to stop with simply experimenting with a new form of distribution, they decided to growth hack the hell out of the marketing.
Some time after the film’s release the tweets started pouring in about random acts of Whedon:
The cast and crew, along with Whedon himself sent out gifts to random people who rented the movie. The idea being that those people would tweet about the experience and excitedly share it with their friends (who might also think they have a chance at being randomly selected). But it wasn’t just signed posters that were sent out by Whedon & Co.
They also sent AppleTV’s….
And Xbox Ones….
The response has been obviously great, as those users have gone on to share the experience, allowing the campaign to go viral which raises awareness for the film. The innovativeness of the campaign – which has been compared to a ‘reverse Kickstarter’ by many on social media – is only matched by its outstanding execution. AppleTVs, Rokus, and Xbox Ones all share the fact that they are ‘big ticket items’ the kind of thing that you would hope is under the tree on Christmas, but the connection between them is more than that… they all enable you to play Vemo on your TV, and that was likely a strategic decision.
This is pure speculation, but I wouldn’t doubt that the ‘randomly selected’ recipients of these prizes were not all that random at all. In fact I wouldn’t doubt the ones that received streaming devices likely watched the movie on their laptops, signaling a need for a device like a Roku or AppleTV. Furthermore, I wouldn’t doubt the influencers were carefully picked, as it would be a waste to send it to someone who wasn’t going to tweet or Instagram it right away.
Strategy aside, this was another brilliant and unconventional move from the mind of Joss Whedon, who is proving time and again the power of fan service.