Film Marketing: Missing Mix in SA Film Industry


I have observed a commonality in the South African Film Industry. Many great films are shot and distributed without having an effective and strategic marketing plan. Which is like buying a car with no engine. I’m not talking about a Tesla.

Whilst this is attributed to tight and low budgets Film Makers have to work with, however, marketing is the most important investment that ensures that all the amazing cinematography and enticing story-line becomes a financial success at the end. Films should make a profit unless you were making the film for your close friends and family.

Films do not fail because they were not good, but they fail because nobody knew about the film.

I have watched a fair share of South African films and one needs to give credit to the level of cinematography we have elevated to, unlike before. The quality has improved. However, most and the greatest films are unknown to larger audiences, therefore, becoming a failure, probably thereafter being pirated and distributed on the streets and on YouTube.

In this post, I will leave out the aspects of genre preference and themes such as holidays and seasons and solely focus on the role of marketing or the lack of thereof in Film, assuming that the film is wonderfully shot, amazing cast, and a great story line.

Social Media Marketing Campaign

Media houses should really adapt themselves and utilize new media especially the internet and social media. Social Media is god-sent if used right. That is one thing they should take an advantage of. Running a digital and social media marketing campaign is more affordable than booking a few seconds on TV, or space in Billboards, which you rely on the probability that a certain number of people are seated or passing by that Billboard or watching your film trailer for those few seconds you have paid millions for. If the budget allows, yes, of course, you can also incorporate TV and Billboards, but the internet is your money cow. Trust me.

Domino Effect

Marketing on the internet is cheaper. It reaches more people and works on a ‘domino effect’. By ‘domino effect’, I mean, if ran strategically, your film becomes viral and gets more shares on social media, which reaches more people and by the Premier date, you already have masses lining up to watch your film and just like that, you’ve secured your bag.

Know Your Audience

Research shows that contrary to popular belief, South Africans actually do support locally produced films. People who go to the cinema the most, are young people, recent graduates, university students and young professionals who are just starting out in their careers; Interns. They often go in groups, as friends. They are always on social media, and on their phones. That is your audience and that’s where you’ll find them; on social media. Whether it’s a Zulu action film, which is South Africa’s favorite genre, whether it’s a drama, a romantic comedy or comedy, keep them in mind throughout the process.

Content Marketing

Another mistake often Brands make is to oversell their products or services. This also goes for Film Producers. The key lies in content creation around your film. Get people talking about the film. Diversify your strategy. Involve YouTubers, Influencers, Bloggers (like me😜) , and Instagram. Share the trailer, interviews, behind the scenes videos on social media. Create seconds short, enticing, and mind-blowing video content. Your main goal should be to create that FOMO effect; a fear of missing out on your film, for your audience and potential target audience. THAT should be your ultimate strategy and TV, Billboards, interviews, old media comes after. Trust. 👌

Look at the latest, top-grossing films. You will agree with me that some are not the best films. For example, their editing is flawed, not crisp, the script is messy, or something Film people would notice but they became successful because of hype created around those films. I’d name-drop but I don’t want this post reduced to a trolling session against some films. But I’m sure you know a few. 😊

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Blogger, Media and Marketing student at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

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  1. November 23, 2018 / 10:43 am

    Wow this is so informative and educational. Thank u so much. As one of the Film makers i need that info ; keep up the good writing. Cant wait for more posts.

  2. Justin
    January 26, 2019 / 12:34 am

    Good read, informative and to the point…I learnt something today

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