How Movies Establish Fans and What Marketers Can Learn From It

The term "fan" is a term that, although not difficult to define, does hold a degree of ambiguity. According to the OED, a fan is a "keen and regular spectator", which in the film industry could perhaps be measured by total box office, DVD release profits, or even figures such as views of interviews on YouTube, or number of tweets about the premier. For a brand, this type of loyalty is now being called a Lovemark. It often transcends reason and rationality, one has only to think about avid Starbucks's fans who are outraged when taken away from their daily latte despite quality coffee from other venues. So, I've decided to pinpoint the stages of development from someone who merely lives in the same world as a movie to a fan, and how we can analyze these stages to make better marketing decisions.


One of the key factors of becoming a fan in the entertainment industry is to have no prior knowledge of the movie.

(Obviously, you must have heard of it in order to go see it in the first place, but no real prior knowledge of the movie's content.) This does not include hearing about the movie, or even watching the trailer. Far from drawing viewers away, these elements will encourage the initial exposure to the movie, which leads us to stage two. (This point may be one of the reasons as to why many of the Harry Potters fans on the books could never really become true fans of the movies, and emphasizes the importance of powerful initial exposure)


Unless you receive continuous impressions for years (is that how long it took Elizabeth with Mr. Darcy?), the first impression of a movie and brand is one of the most important parts of converting people to fans. The premiers are always surrounded by hype, but perhaps the most important things that movies must do is be FANTASTIC, despite lack of any kind of expectation (or, often very high expectations) as described above. More specifically, the beginning of a movie must be fantastic, not only to keep viewers in their seats but also because of the primacy effect, as viewers are much more likely to recall movie beginnings than endings when thinking back to the experience.

A substage component is the amount of content the user is exposed to upon first viewing. It is much easier to become obsessed with a movie than a song, due to media completeness and abundance (think of it as more to love from first try).

For brands this means that the first interaction anyone has with your brand has to be a powerful one, especially if this is a user's first interaction with it. It also means that you must have enough content readily available from first interaction to keep the potential customer on your website/Facebook page/ YouTube channel/Pinterest long enough to form a complete first impression with abundance of cross-platform information.


Once a fascinated viewer steps out of a movie and goes home, one of the first things people will do is (obviously a huge surprise) search for extra content about the movie. Here is where people download apps, where they watch interviews, download the script, or even search for community discussions about the movie. This is the critical stage where many lose interest. If there's barely any extra information, it's difficult to keep the novelty of the experience strong. At this point, bonus marks for abundant video content.

Although this is nothing new, it is important to have your brand in many places on the internet, evidently not just for SEO purposes. Having blogs about your brand or a Facebook page or video content helps, but so does having links which are not directly promoted and owned by the brand itself. Cultural conversations and authentic discussions are priceless when someone wants to find out more about what your company really stands for - and to maintain the excitement about the brand itself, and ideally build up a level of fascination/interest similar to that of a film.


Although it sounds dramatic, almost everyone remembers that a key time frame where you were just so obsessed with a book or movie that it began to take over your life (and not in a bad way). Although I have a series of obsessions, one with The Unbearable Lightness of Being stands strong. It is now impossible to think back to points in time without the book's quotes, the movie's scenes or even the post-its with inspiration from the book all over my walls. This book has so thoroughly integrated itself into my identity that I almost wouldn't be me without it.

For marketers, this "loyalty beyond reason" stage is the mark of ultimate success, it is when the customer has identified themselves with your brand, developed an affinity for it, integrated the brand itself into their personality and is now a determined long-term customer.

Article Source: Nelly Matorina

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