The 2017 Jaws (1975) Marketing Campaign

October 24, 2017 10:16 pm Published by

What would a ‘Jaws’ (1975) marketing campaign look like today?


Forty-two years ago (Summar, 1975), Jaws made it’s big screen debut, terrifying people with a 25-foot mechanical shark.

Jaws cost roughly $7 million to create and grossed in excess of $470m, beating records set by The Godfather and The Exosist along the way, and launching the directorial career for Steven Spielberg. In fact, by the end of the first week, Jaws had reclaimed most of the production budget.

1970 viral marketing
“ ‘Jaws’ went viral through word of mouth,” said Paul Dergarabedian (Lead for Marketing for Star Wars, Alien and ET)
  • Wide distribution and aggressive advertising into the summer.Initial buzz was created off the back of Peter Benchley’s “Jaws” topping paperback novel charts.
  • Universal spent $1.8 million on P&A, promoting “Jaws.
  • Universal Studios spent $700,000+ on trailers two weeks ahead of the film’s debut.
  • Universal exploited the extreme popularity of the film and launched additional tie-ins including: action figures and sound tracks.
  • Jaws tapped in to public fear about what may lie beneath the surface of the Ocean.
  • It’s Summer release media coverage and shark sighting, during the release period, helped keep people out of the water.
  • Catchy soundtrack of E and F notes that remain in the public memory by John Williams; here the music played as if it was another character. You couldn’t see it but you could here it … it was there!
Comparable Films

  • Orca (1977)
  • Piranha (1978)
  • Alligator (1980)
  • Anaconda (1997)
  • Deep Blue Sea (1999)
  • Open Water (2003)
  • Sharknado (2013) … plus 5 sequels.

Jaws, today …

There have been a number of major technological developments since the release of Jaws. Today, these could be used to further enhance the viral marketing campaign. 

Publicity Stunt – Game of Thrones marketed a series by erected an enormous dragon’s head, appearing to have been washed up on a beach. In our case, damaged boats or other props could be used in the same manner. However, this would need careful planning in order to ensure that public confidence in safety is not affected. Here, for example, it may not be wise to have surfboards washed up or reports of large shark sightings off coast lines. 

Pre-roll video advertising – Video sharing sites like Vimeo and YouTube allow for pre-roll video advertising. These are relatively inexpensive and clients are not charged if the user clicks on the skid ad button within 5 seconds. 

Press-Junket – Press are invited for Q&A and/or to see filming taking place. For Jaws, this could be a staged boat trip. A mechanical shark could be used to gain interest, excitement and/or fear. In addition, this could also be for those who are not journalists – possibly winners of competitions. etc.

Apps – Hunger Games, for example, allowed user to experience and join their own ‘district’ and, just like the film, be able to compete with one another. Ultimately, this enabled a large spread of word of mouth from social interaction and promoted users to share, invite friends, share updates and spread the Hunger Games virtually. 

IMDB and Advertising – Millions of people visit IMDB site and also include a wide range of advertising packages for clients to promote their film. 

Involve the audience – The Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises are two clear examples of where audiences have participated within the making of the film. For the Dark Knight, there was a “Why so Serious Campaign” that brought Gotham City to life and with Dark Knight Rises, audiences from around the world were invited to contribute towards the vocals of the Hans Zimmer score. 

Video Marketing – Audiences share videos if they feel an emotional extreme, for example this emotion could be humour, fear, sadness etc. In our case, with Jaws, this emotion should be fear. To start the seeded video campaign, a video could be uploaded to the website only. This would ensure that users share the URL of the page and not just the YouTube link. This could then, subsequently, be uploaded to Vimeo, YouTube etc with additional pre-roll video advertising, AdWords and embedded playlists. 

Official Website – Jaws would not have had the luxury of the internet in 1975. I’ve discussed a number of methods in which this platform could be used to promote the movie. In addition, an official website would be required that could include trailers, tv spots, cast and crew information. The very best websites are those that involve the user within a specific and targeted experience. This would also include a countdown to the official premiere of the movie. 

Social Media – Official Facebook pages of Hunger Games, World War Z etc include interactive games and elements that get the user involved. Further to this, all official facebook pages include both scheduled and personalised updates from the administration team, this creates an engaging experience for the user. Facebook Apps also take this interaction one stage further and develop user contests online etc. In addition, official posted images and videos allow users to interact with comments and likes and to also share the posts to their own pages. There are other social networking sites that can be used to promote the film, these include: Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest etc. Here, for example, Sundance Film Festival share their official images on Pinterest. Although they only have a few thousand followers, these followers then actively share any posts that have been made.

Celebrity and brand partnerships – Coca-Cola has 106m followers (October, 2017), which means that they can drive a very large amount of engagement in a short space of time. Here, we could link with sun-cream companies which would also promote the safety aspect of the film. 

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