‘Hulk’ Hooks ‘Iron Man’ Moviegoers with In-Call Campaign

In a bid to harness the buzz around Marvel hero flick “Iron Man,” released by Paramount earlier this month, rival studio Universal is marketing another Marvel franchise using targeted in-call advertising aimed at fans of the man of metal. The campaign was set up by L.A.-based media agency Ignited and implemented by Apptera.

Recent callers to MovieTickets.com’s phone hotline at 877-789-MOVIE seeking show times and locations for “Iron Man” have been targeted with an ad for the other hero movie. The paid message begins by saying, “Like Tony Stark? See more of him in ‘Incredible Hulk’ in theaters on June 13. Press 1 to get a text message reminder…” Consumers who opt in to the campaign will receive an SMS prompt on their phone the day before “Hulk” hits theaters. For the uninitiated, Tony Stark is the main character in “Iron Man.”

“We wanted to build long-lead awareness for the film,” said Megan Crowell, interactive media supervisor at Ignited. “We’ve done audio ads for ticketing sites in the past. This was a really cool opportunity to contextually target and serve the ad to a really relevant, hyper-targeted audience, and have the ability to re-target them.”

Apptera recorded the creative, which was then approved by Universal. The campaign, which was a pilot for Universal, ran for the first two weeks “Iron Man” was in theaters. In that time MovieTickets.com received roughly 100,000 total callers from across the country, 30 percent of which sought information on “Iron Man.” The campaign experienced a 3 percent sign-up rate, according to Randy Halderman, chief marketing officer at Apptera.

“What really intrigued the agency was to have a cell phone, which a user carries around, interacting with the brand,” said Halderman. “What the studio wants to do is get a big opening weekend, to have these time bombs, people carrying cell phones that start buzzing on opening day.”

Calls were split almost half and half between mobile phones and landlines. Apptera was able to detect users who dialed from a fixed line, and served a more generic message letting them know when the movie opens. Apptera’s platform can allow users to request a call, text, or e-mail; therefore it is possible for callers on a landline to opt-in to in-call advertising programs. However those options were not used in this particular promotion.

Ignited and Universal treated the campaign as a trial. “We are always looking to find unique ways to remarket to users. For future campaigns we will look at similar ways to remarket to users when films are being released,” Crowell said.

In addition to the in-voice campaign, Ignited conducted an online media campaign geared toward fans of Marvel to make sure they’re aware of the release, she said.

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