How Lionsgate Plans to Take on 'Twitter Effect' for 'Kick-Ass'

Studio Synchs Film's Branded Facebook, MySpace, YouTube Pages Under One Platform

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- While the so-called "Twitter effect" and its impact on a movie's box office remains enigmatic at best for most studios, Lionsgate is hoping its latest social-media marketing milestone will put them one step closer to a solution. Lionsgate will become the first advertiser to sync up its sponsored brand pages on YouTube, Facebook and MySpace under one platform to promote its upcoming comic-book movie "Kick-Ass," out April 16.

The "Kick-Ass" promotion, courtesy of Silicon Valley startup ThisMoment, lets Lionsgate integrate user comments, video streams and Twitter conversations (via a branded hashtag) under one platform, with real-time metrics to show isolated and combined traffic figures. The platform, called Distributed Engagement Channel, was sold to Lionsgate by ThisMoment and YouTube as an upgrade to YouTube's brand-channel package to advertisers.

"It's important to have all the buzz and great fan reaction in one place," said Danielle DePalma, Lionsgate's VP-new media and marketing. "The web overall is a social place, but I don't think fans and users see it in a siloed way. So if somebody's looking at a trailer on YouTube, they can then log in right here, leave a post and share it with a friend on Facebook or MySpace. It's important that everything we do in the social space is making it easy for people to find and spread."

As YouTube has established itself as a mass-marketing destination for studios on the web, Lionsgate has been instrumental in bringing some of the site's first ad units to market. In 2008, the studio created "mash-up" contests for films such as "W" and last year took a choose-your-own-adventure approach to a home-page campaign for "Crank 2: High Voltage."

Aaron Zamost, a YouTube spokesman, said advertisers can sometimes get caught up in the "constant one-upmanship" of "firsts" on YouTube (see: Nintendo and Goodby's page takeover for "Wii Wario Land") so it's refreshing to see a focus on metrics.

"Any time an advertiser runs a campaign that shows they're taking engagement opportunities seriously is something that makes us really happy," he said.

Vince Broady, CEO-cofounder of ThisMoment, said the platform gives Lionsgate access to a "critical mass of advocates online. One of the things that makes people advocate things online is when people join in with them, so if they can all communicate with each other it's a good multiple effect."

But with the exception of Twitter, Lionsgate is using paid media across social networking to influence earned media impressions -- the Facebook, YouTube and MySpace partnerships are all the result of existing ad buys on behalf of "Kick-Ass," including a home-page takeover on MySpace.

"It's a big efficiency play," Mr. Broady said. "Publishers are happy because they still get their media buy and don't have to create a custom microsite, and Lionsgate doesn't have to manage 10 different campaigns across 10 different publishers. This creates a mechanism where everyone gets off the hook."

For Lionsgate, that also means being able to consolidate the buzz metrics around its controversial "red band" trailer featuring 12-year-old actress Chloe Moretz, aka Hit Girl, dropping all sorts of curse words that would make even the most liberal parent blush.

"'Kick-Ass' is one of the great examples of users finding content they like from the film that has nothing to do with the paid media," Ms. DePalma said. "If they get behind something, this is a great place for us to be able to share that content. With the amount of comments on YouTube or Facebook, the commentary outside of [traditional media] is an important thing to us."

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