Moana is a Maori and Hawaiian word that roughly translates to “ocean, wide expanse of water, or deep sea.” (behindthename.com). Leave it to Disney to take this translation literally and produce a marketing campaign that was equally expansive and in a sense, deep.
Moana is Disney’s latest animated feature film to come out riding strong on the so called “Frozen wave” established with the release and success of Frozen in 2013. To ensure this success, the official trailer stated that Moana was “from the creators of Frozen” to provide a credible base for the film to stand on with viewers.
Disney used a variety of marketing tactics from the traditional to pushing the boundaries of what is new. The few that I will be discussing in this post are the traditional posters, trailers, and television spots along with the new Weather Channel backgrounds and full out vessel takeovers. Much like with Tangled, this campaign had a more boy-friendly feel to it. It was filled with more action clips than a more traditional Disney campaign would include.
Firstly, it would not be a marketing campaign without trailers and posters to constantly remind us that the movie is coming. Moana had several posters created to show off the main characters, the setting, and intrigue the audience about the plot line to be followed. In addition to this, a teaser and full official trailer were created to further intrigue audiences about the film.
The recent Olympics in Rio De Janeiro also gave Disney a unique opportunity for this campaign. What better time to advertise then when it’s quite possible the whole world could be watching? Granted it most likely aired in specific markets, but there were still high volumes of audiences. Thus, producing an extended promo was a good call on the part of Disney to ensure maximum exposure with relevant audiences.
Moving on now to the newer and more unique marketing strategies that Disney perused; starting with its frequent marketing partner, The Weather Company. What this company does is offer geotargeted promotions through its Weather Channel App. These appear in the form of branded backgrounds on the current weather screens of its users.
While other movies have used these branded backgrounds, such as The Penguins of Madagascar in 2014 produced by DreamWorks Animation, Moana was the first to use the new animated backgrounds. The backgrounds that users saw were based on the current weather conditions in their area. The branded backgrounds mimicked those conditions and subtly brought them to life.
There is one shortcoming that I can see with this campaign thus far; it was only available in select markets within the U.S. For a complete list of these cities and markets and more information about these branded backgrounds, click here.
One more element was incorporated within this app to appeal to the consumer desire for convenience. The app allowed users to purchase tickets to Moana at local theaters through a specialized website: Moanatickets.com.
A new adventure that Disney took on across the pond, in the UK, was turning an MBNA Thames Clippers’ catamaran into a Polynesian Wayfinder vessel. Thames Clippers provide river bus and cruise services on the Thames River in London. This was MBNA’s first partnership with Disney and with any company on a theatrical release for that matter. The goal was to immerse the customers in the movie and make them inclined to see it.
Perhaps saving their best promotional tool for last at the annual D23 Conference, Disney brought out the big guns to talk about the movie: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who voices Maui in the film. It may come as a surprise, but The Rock can sing ladies and gentlemen. If you haven’t heard his song yet, please watch it below. It will hook you and have you singing for a while. Which leads me to my next and final point.
Marketing and promotion for this film extends beyond everything done before the movie’s release date. Disney has several of its own official YouTube channels, one of which is called DisneyMusicVEVO. Often these channels contain the songs and most popular clips from the animated films.
This serves as a marketing tool in two ways: one to lure new viewers into the theaters by hearing about such songs either from word-of-mouth or by stumbling across the videos. Two to catch repeat viewers who see the video and realize how much they liked the movie and return to see it again.
Disney has produced an impressive campaign to market Moana to a diverse set of audiences, while also returning to its core demographic of young females as it is a female-centric film. Personally, I have not seen the film, but am intrigued to do so since “Your Welcome” has been playing on my computer for multiple weeks now. If you are curious as to how well this campaign translated into dollars for Disney on opening weekend, click here.
What are your thoughts about the movie in general? What aspects, if any, of this campaign drew you in to see the movie? Do you think that Disney went too far in its campaign by taking over a tourist vessel or was it simply a genius marketing move on their part? Feel free to leave a comment below.