To reduce the risk of loss and increase the success as well as the profitability of the film, marketing strategies have become more and more important.
Having a successful marketing strategy is key to a movie's success. Before the advent of the internet, advertising to audiences was done through print media, with hand-drawn posters on billboards, buses, and streets. With the growth of cinema, trailers became a popular way to promote films. The business soon expanded, not just for film but also for advertising and publicity agencies and outlets.
Without these types of promotion, the film has the potential to fail in attracting its intended audience and lose the money spent by studios. Today, both groups are extending their campaigns to the usage of social media to gain a higher profit and larger audience.
The film market in Nollywood comprises video retail, box office, and video on demand. While Nollywood producers made success with films like Through The Glass, a movie by Stephanie Okereke that grossed N10 million in 2008, Figurine by Kunle Afolayan which grossed N20 million in 2009, Half Of A Yellow Sun by Biyi Bandele which grossed 60 million Naira at the Nigeria box office in 2013, Ayo Makun's 30 Days in Atlanta became the first Nigerian movie to rake in over N76 million in just a matter of weeks back in 2014. Since then, the intentionality of film publicity and branding in Nollywood has only intensified. Kemi Adetiba’s 2016 romcom The Wedding Party grossed 450 million Naira from only Nigerian cinemas, proving that Nollywood may just be the industry investors need to explore.
As the number of film releases has increased over the years, the scale of success and failure in the Nollywood film industry has increased enormously making it challenging for filmmakers to get the attention of moviegoers and make them watch the film with the right publicity strategy. To reduce the risk of loss and increase the success as well as the profitability of the film, marketing strategies have become more and more important.
With a new door of numbers and publicity approach opened in Nollywood, In 2021 alone, The Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) announced that they realized N4.8 billion in revenue through ticket sales in 2021 an increase of 128.57 percent when compared with N2.1 billion worth of tickets sold in 2020.
In the Nollywood film business, the success of a film is believed to be tied to “Star Power” and the ability to use star power to obtain financing and distribution and to drive opening week revenue. Film stars have an impact on revenue, primarily due to their ability to generate buzz and drive audiences to the theaters during the opening week. Asides from the fact that films like Wedding party, King of Boys, and Omo Ghetto have decent storylines and production value going for them, the approach used to sell these films was heavily based on star power, and these stars help to drive box office numbers.
Filmmaker Allen Onyige, points out that stories are the driving force behind film projects and that stars aren't just used for credibility, but also to generate marketing revenue. “Filmmaking is a business, and Nollywood producers who use star power to sell their project to the audience are just doing their jobs".
Therefore, film production companies are now focusing on new marketing communication to create awareness and attract moviegoers to new films. Since promotion is responsible for the communication of the value of an offer to its target audience, film production companies need to use appropriate marketing communication tools and channels for the success of a film. The promotion of a new film includes pre-release media introduction, interviews with film star actors and actresses in magazines and newspaper appearances, and high-rating TV news and shows. There are also other publicity activities such as, utilizing social media promotions and purchasing other direct advertisement services.
Promotional activities have become highly important to create awareness about a movie and to drive traffic to the cinemas and VOD platforms. For further impact, film producers need to engage in the marketing promotion process to provide more information to moviegoers; because moviegoers’ decision to watch the movie depends on available information about the film.
Cinephiles can get relevant information about the film through the film production company’s marketing promotional activities, prerelease advertising, and critics’ reviews as well as the word of mouth of other moviegoers. It is expected that moviegoers’ decision to watch the film, however, is strongly influenced by marketing promotional activities leading up to the opening weekend and after.
With many movies being released regularly, producers have had to find more creative ways to sell their film products to attract new audiences and make them stand out. With the recent penetration of VODs, streaming parties have emerged as another viable way of marketing movies available only on streaming platforms. More than ever before, especially at a time like this when the attention span is reducing drastically, producers are now tasked with finding more innovative ways to market their films to their desired audiences.
As the stats show, audience apathy towards Nollywood films has steadily declined as more and more people are now open to the idea of going to the cinemas to watch a Nollywood film or streaming on Netflix, Amazon prime, or Showmax. There has been a great deal of marketing effort by film producers over the years, as well as innovative meet-and-greets at cinemas and giveaways. It has been done to engage the audience and make them feel as if they have a stake in the film's success by offering free public screenings and making announcements about box office performance.
As we continue to evolve as an industry, more engaging ways to promote and market films will come. However, at the moment, we want to continue to appreciate every little win we are experiencing, which we owe largely to innovative marketing and promotional ends.