Lionsgate Uses Viral Marketing to Build Up Hype for the New Mockingjay – Part 1 Film

Hello everyone! My name is Lisa Passanisi and I will be one of the Accounts Coordinators for the upcoming semester. I am excited for the start of the fall semester at BU! In addition to maintaining my part-time job as a crew member at CVS, this summer I have been interning in the Office of Career Services for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, as well as avidly going to the movies. Although many people disdain repetitive trailers, which precede each feature film, I actually look forward to them! I love the way trailers build up excitement for new movies By far, my favorite movie marketing campaign of the summer is the eerie, viral campaign for the first installment of the Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay – Part 1.

Lionsgate has been steadily building up hype for the film through its haunting advertisements and trailers, which immerse the audience in the culture of Panem and the Capitol. While fans of the series have gotten glimpses of the culture of the Capitol through various aspects of the previous two movies and the first two books, the marketing campaign is pitched to viewers as if they themselves were citizens of Panem. The campaign, which is meant to depict a creepily glamourized and unified Panem, consists of digital images, moving and musical portraits, movie trailers, and an online magazine.

Mocking Jay Part 1

The digital print images feature a series of regular citizens of Panem. Each image is meant to “salute” and “honor” the citizens in each district for their “diligent work.” Every detail in each advertisement depict the tension between the government of Panem and its citizens. For example, in the advertisement featuring a man from District 7, the Lumber District, a heavily tattooed and man with glistening muscles is seen sitting on a bench holding onto his wooden leg, clearly indicating the poor manner in which the government treats its citizens. Meanwhile, in the smallest font, Panem officials say, “Love your labor. Take pride in your task. Our future is in your hands.” The comments, particularly the last one highlight the conflict depicted throughout Catching Fire between the struggling citizens who resent the yoke of the Capitol.

Mocking Jay Preview

The moving image advertisements go on to further the creepy glamour which the Capitol (and the Lionsgate marketers) had used in the previous still images. Powerful and patriotic sounding music from the Capitol begins to play as moving images of Peeta and Johanna dressed in fancy white outfits, set against a white backdrop, begin to rotate. The images embody the strains the country is experiencing as Panem struggles to remain “unified.” Subtleties are essential in these images, as viewers can see the concern etched across Peeta’s face while Johanna’s stoic face contrasts with her nervous, clenching hands.

The trailers and teasers feature more of the same tactics – immersing audiences in the tense environment of Panem as the citizens begin to fight against the Capitol. Faux unity is one of the consistent factors in each of viral advertisement as Lionsgate is using the Capitol’s method of marketing themselves as a superior, strong government; however, in a more recently released trailer, rebels cut into President Snows’ announcement regarding the State of Panem.

Although each of these advertisements have impressed followers of the popular series and whet our appetites to the upcoming release of the film, my favorite aspect of the campaign is the online magazine, Capitol Couture. The Capitol Couture website is meant to emulate a typical fashion and lifestyle publication in Panem, complete with images, beauty tutorials, fashion showcases, and “fluff” articles which remain completely ignorant of the building tension spreading across the country. The interactive site is a fantastic way to visually introduce viewers to the real “feel” of Panem. Capitol Couture features various updates for fans to follow. Currently, there are four online issues with articles available for viewing.

Capitol Couture

Finally, the current Mockingjay – Part 1 campaign has been delightfully unfolding over the course of the summer despite the fact that each advertisement does not directly state that it wants viewers to go see the new film. The film and its plot are never even mentioned, but rather subtly hinted at through the visuals which show the stark contrast between the “reality” of citizens in Panem and their governing officials. The obvious tensions and conflict are teased but never explicitly shown. By treating us as if we are Panem citizens watching President Snow’s efforts to showcase the strength of the Capitol we fans become a part of Panem. As more advertisements are released and the film release date approaches fans continue to get more excited due to the successful viral marketing.

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