Ok disclosure upfront: I am a massive Pixar fan. And before that I was already a massive Disney fan. When I was at university I seriously considered writing for Disney as one of my top job options (and I wrote a screenplay and music for a "Jason and the Golden Fleece" Disney movie for my A-Levels...).
So, with that disclosure out of the way, I have been loving the promotions for the new Monsters University movie.
How far do you go to make a campaign feel real? With Monsters U, there is so much more than the average movie promotion. They have created a whole brand that mimics a real world university, including university website and twitter feed. Neither is about the movie or writes about the movie. Instead it's immersive, writing as if Monsters U is a real institution, and you might really be reaching out to students or faculty with these channels.
As the Chronicle commented in this article, the website is so good it might generate some serious envy from real world institutions! It has everything from admissions information to staff notices, school course listings and of course the university news room. The videos are slick and the whole thing is incredibly realistic.
Now bearing in mind that for Monsters Inc, Pixar generated $62,577,067 at the box office in its first weekend, you can imagine that the marketing and PR budget for the film is pretty large, which enables a campaign of this nature which requires a lengthy content plan, a large number of man hours, not to mention the upfront costs of designing and hosting all this multimedia. I still vividly remember sitting at the ALPSP annual conference back in 2010 where Grace Baynes of Nature commented that they spent several hours each day updating a single Facebook page. So how can a campaign of this nature be replicated on a smaller scale?
To create something that has a real brand, outside of the publisher brand, would need careful planning to consider the time that could be invested, and over what period. I'm curious as to Monsters U's exit strategy too. Now that the movie has hit the cinema, how long will these channels be maintained?