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B2B Lessons Learned from Monster’s U & Despicable Me 2

When you think about marketing, the first things that normally come to mind are exciting consumer goods, fast food, sports teams — and just as often, the film industry. Traditionally, marketers have pulled out all the stops to promote their films, including movie trailers, posters, promotional events featuring the stars of the movie, websites, and more. Their animated counterparts, on the other hand, often have a harder time coming up with well-rounded marketing campaigns that go beyond a trailer, Happy Meal toys, and a website.

This is becoming a thing of the past as companies like Pixar and Universal Pictures turn to less traditional methods of film promotion, including interactive websites, merchandise, and even blimps. Let’s take a look at two recent animated releases and their successes in the box office, and see if we can tie these unique B2C techniques to B2B marketing.

Monster’s University

Released on June 21st, Monster’s University was the long-anticipated sequel to Pixar’s Monster’s, Inc. from 2001. Although the film received the 12th lowest rating on Rotten Tomatoes out of the 14 Pixar releases since Toy Story, it had the second-highest grossing opening weekend of any Pixar film. But if the story was just average, as the critics suggest, why has the film seen such success? Well, because of the marketing.

The marketing behind Monster’s University received a lot of attention after the team released their interactive, immersive website for the film. Unlike most film websites that include a trailer and some related content, this website functions exactly like a college website, complete with admissions requirements, class descriptions, a campus map, and merchandise (which, yes, you can buy).

The B2B Marketing lesson? Never underestimate the power of interactivity. Just as the Monster’s University consumers enjoyed getting a glimpse into life at Monsters U (they could even apply to the school and access additional content once accepted), B2B buyers also appreciate an interactive and immersive experience. Create marketing campaigns that encourage conversation and interaction, from social media campaigns centered around a hashtag to an interactive piece like an ROI calculator or a helpful, topical microsite.

Despicable Me 2

Similar to Monster’s University, Despicable Me 2 has received somewhat lackluster reviews from critics since its release on July 3rd. However, the film has done remarkably well in theaters and has a “Must Go!” rating from fans on Fandango, who have been highly anticipating the film since the teaser trailer was released last year. Again, much like Monster’s University, the marketing behind Despicable Me 2 has a lot to do with the film’s success.

Aside from the teaser trailer, Universal Pictures partnered with McDonald’s, Progressive, General Mills, Frito-Lay, Chiquita Brands, and more than 100 licensing and promotional partners to release multi-platform marketing campaigns featuring the film’s “minion” characters. The most interesting aspect of the marketing behind Despicable Me 2, however, was the “Despicablimp” — the 165-foot-long blimp shaped like a giant minion that logged more than 20,000 miles across the U.S over a six month time span. The Despicablimp was accompanied by a website called the Despicablimp Command Center, where fans could track its progress and watch various launch videos (there was even a Despicablimp Twitter handle to go with it). Talk about an interesting spin on your classic billboard advertising technique!

The B2B Marketing Lesson? First, don’t be afraid to leverage your partner networks to help promote your marketing campaigns. Often, your partners can reach audiences that you might not have had access to in the past. This can also lend your campaign additional credibility in the eyes of buyers. The second B2B lesson learned from the marketing behind Despicable Me 2 is the potential payoff associated with putting a spin on traditional marketing techniques like print advertising. Even though print is becoming a thing of the past, buyers are often still impressed by an innovative poster series or a creative direct mail piece.

What other parallels can you draw between B2B marketing and the marketing behind Monster’s University and Despicable Me 2? Let us know in the comments!