Paramount Pictures: Sonic the Hedgehog Speeds to Mobile Success


Campaign Summary

Paramount Pictures teamed up with AdColony to develop an interactive mobile campaign to generate broad awareness and excitement for the upcoming theatrical movie release of Sonic the Hedgehog.


Objective and Context:

Paramount Pictures teamed up with AdColony to develop an interactive mobile campaign to generate broad awareness and excitement for the upcoming theatrical movie release of Sonic the Hedgehog. This month-long campaign aimed to engage fans of the franchise as well as parents and kids between the ages of six to 12 who may or may not be familiar with the popular 1990s video-game brand. This allowed for an opportunity to partner with AdColony and develop a rich mobile experience that reintroduced Sonic's dynamic personality, showcased the comedic elements of the film, and immersed fans in a unique and engaging way.

This was the first year of the campaign. By activating on Instagram, a mobile-first social platform, the brand prioritized mobile optimized creative across the campaign, tapping into unique capabilities only offered in mobile ad formats such as Instagram Stories.

Target Audience:

Capitalizing on Sonic's iconic game franchise, this campaign aimed to responsibly reach families by using a COPPA Compliant kid app list to target parents and kids between the ages of six to 12 with an affinity for gaming and entertainment. Popular gaming apps were leveraged as part of the targeting to reach these target audiences.

Creative Strategy:

The creative strategy was focused on delivering an experience that would be exciting, fun, and reminiscent of the Sonic the Hedgehog game. With this in mind, the team decided to make the campaign an interactive gamified experience. During the trailer, users were prompted to tap Sonic items to score points. As users watched clips from the movie, users could tap Sonic's glove, shoe, and ring to earn points while tapping Doctor Robotnik's drone would make users lose points. Scoring a total of 50 points would allow the user to unlock bonus footage from the movie.

After completion, a Dynamic End Card (DEC) was served with the user's score and the user was given the option to play again, watch the bonus footage, or visit the mobile site to purchase movie tickets. All of these efforts were intended to extend the potential dwell time these new fans would have with the Sonic movie brand.

There was a natural intersection between the creative and media strategy for this campaign which focused on gaming and speed. This allowed for a more thoughtful attempt to reach the target audience with an engaging creative experience that was relevant to the top gaming app environments with media support. Additionally, the mobile environment allowed for an optimal user experience for parents with kids between the ages of six to 12who are on-the-go.


Overall Campaign Execution:

The combination of the trailer and the interactive game allowed Paramount to drive both top of the funnel awareness around the film as well as direct user engagement.

Mobile Execution:

The mobile component ran concurrently with other parts of Paramount's marketing strategy during a five-week campaign from January 13 to February 16, 2020. The nature of mobile as a channel allowed for Paramount to reach parents with kids between the ages of six to 12 who were on-the-go, which tied into the overarching creative themes from the Sonic movie around speed and adventure.

Paramount leveraged AdColony's technology to deliver an Aurora HD Video + Dynamic End Card, an effective ad unit that drives strong video completion rates and engagement within an immersive mobile environment. The video utilized the AdColony Instant-Play HD Video technology where all video is pre-cached in-app, allowing for zero buffer time and seamless user experience. AdColony's SDK integration into the top 1000 apps allowed Paramount to reach the desired target audience within top mobile entertainment and gaming apps where parents with kids between the ages of six to 12 over-index.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

Prior to the launch of the campaign, there was built-in awareness for the game franchise, but the campaign was designed to drive awareness for the release of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie and drive ticketing conversions. In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Fantasy Island, The Photograph, and Downhill, and was initially projected to gross between $40 to $50 million from 4,130 theaters in its four-day Presidents Day opening weekend. Sonic the Hedgehog hoped to corner the market for family entertainment as there were no other major family films released within this timeframe.

This campaign surpassed multiple benchmarks. The average video completion rate was 89.93 percent, outperforming the benchmark of 85 percent. Overall engagement rate was 33.27 percent, surpassing the benchmark of 25 percent. DEC Engagement Rate was 3.26 percent, which greatly exceeded the benchmark of .5 percent. Over the course of the campaign there were 6,534,221 completed views with an average DEC Time Spent of 17.4 seconds.

The Sonic the Hedgehog marketing campaign, inclusive of the mobile execution with AdColony, helped generate mass awareness for the film's release, an affinity for the movie and its cast, and led to a strong box office.

After making $21 million on its first day (including $3 million from Thursday night previews), estimates were raised to $64 million. It went on to top the box office with a $58 million debut over the three-day weekend, and $70 million over the four-day weekend, breaking Detective Pikachu's record for the biggest opening weekend by a film based on a video game. Sonic the Hedgehog has since grossed $146.1 million in the United States and Canada and is currently the second highest-grossing film of 2020.

By outperforming benchmarks across the board, the campaign helped showcase the power of mobile video at large and highlighted how an audience can positively respond when presented with a fun, unique, and relevant interactive mobile video experience.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Innovation, Mobile Gaming, Gamification, and Esports | Awards: NA Bronze Winner, X Bronze Winner