CASE STUDIES: How to Market Your Film to Different Audiences on Facebook like Straight Outta Compton Did

According to Business Insider:
In a panel at South by Southwest, Universal’s EVP of digital marketing, Ed Neil, and Facebook’s entertainment head, Jim Underwood, talked about the customized racial marketing for Straight Outta Compton, the 2015 film that chronicles the rise of gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A. 
Neil credited part of this to a specialized Facebook marketing effort led by Universal’s “multicultural team” in conjunction with its Facebook team. They created tailored trailers for different segments of the population. Why? 
The “general population” (non-African American, non-Hispanic) wasn’t familiar with N.W.A., or with the musical catalog of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, according to Neil. They connected to Ice Cube as an actor and Dr. Dre as the face of Beats, he said. The trailer marketed to them on Facebook had no mention of N.W.A., but sold the movie as a story of the rise of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. 
The trailer marketed to African Americans was completely different. Universal assumed this segment of the population had a baseline familiarity with N.W.A. “They put Compton on the map,” Neil said. This trailer opens with the word N.W.A. and continues to lean on it heavily throughout.
As I read this article, the movie's success at the box office underscored the following key points: the importance of knowing your audience and the need for targeting your advertising to different groups of people.

There are many ways to discover who your audience is from doing surveys, conducting detailed marketing research and/or relying on gut instincts. However you do it, at the end of the day you need to know who your audience.

The next step is to take that knowledge and target your advertising for them. Granted, for indie filmmakers like you out there, it's unlikely that Facebook's entertainment head will work closely with you on marketing to different segments of the population on Facebook. But you can still leverage Facebook to your marketing advantage  with groups.

Here's how:

Your solitary movie group page on Facebook is not enough. Create multiple Facebook groups meant to target the different groups in your audience. 

Taking the Straight Outta Compton Facebook marketing campaign as an example, most older and white fans (not into hip hop) only know of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre as an actor and the face of Beats, respectively. Therefore, advertising to them would mean promoting the film on Ice Cube's actor fan group and the Beats by Dre group. Advertising would preferably be posted in established groups that have already existed for a while. If they don't exist then the film's marketing team would create them. It would be a good idea to do this well in advance during pre-production, or even development, to have enough time to build the community. The filmmakers would then cut trailers for these Facebook groups that would center around the story of Cube and Dre and display their faces prominently in the the trailers. Meanwhile, for the hip hop fans who already know the history of NWA, posting trailers about everyone in NWA could be done on an existing or newly created NWA group page. 

It's important that these separate groups also cultivate the fan base by establishing relations with brand ambassadors relevant to each group and growing the community with goodies and news that relates to them or benefits them.

If you want more tips on strategies to market your film, conduct surveys and identify your audience, contact me at


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