Best film festival promotional items?
December 3, 2011 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Film Festival attendees: What are some of the coolest promotional items you've seen at a fest? What are some of the ones that actually made you want to go see the film? I'm planning a promotional strategy for my first film, which will be hitting festivals next year.
posted by michaeldunaway to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The only things that made me want to prioritize seeing films at festivals were good writeups in advance media in the local press. I would concentrate on courting the media folks in the areas where festivals are. Nothing like early buzz. I have not been aware that tchotchkes are important in film promotion - perhaps they are - but as a festivalgoer myself I can say it was all about planning my strategy in advance using the overviews and recommendations in the media. As a second strategy, going to the early night kickoff events and having someone say "Hey, come see my film" was a strong second.
posted by Miko at 7:51 PM on December 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

Excellent points, Miko! I should have mentioned, this is only a small part of the promotional strategy for the film, and I am absolutely planning on doing all of the above.
posted by michaeldunaway at 8:00 PM on December 3, 2011

Fight club soap.
posted by Jairus at 9:37 PM on December 3, 2011

I have to say my all time favorite festival "swag" wasn't actually swag, but while waiting for a screening at a well known festival, movie promoters came around with ice cream cones wrapped in a paper with a DIFFERENT movie's title, director and screening time and location. I wasn't planning on hitting that screening but I immediately looked up the movie on the festival's app and went to the next screening. Also, the ice cream was delicious because it was boiling hot and I still fondly think of that movie whenever I eat mint chocolate chip ice cream.

Runner up would probably be the empty knockoff Crystal Head Vodka bottle that I got for the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie - I don't particularly like the bottle (or movie) but the blogging-world hubbub created surrounding the idea that Disney ripped off Dan Aykroyd (no, seriously, he is the co-founder of Crystal Head Vodka) has made a lasting memory that even the Pirate-inspired OPI nail polish also included, could not dull.
posted by banannafish at 10:42 PM on December 3, 2011

Lobby cards
posted by rhizome at 12:00 AM on December 4, 2011

Yeah, this may not be the answer you're looking for, but I've been going to several film festivals a year for almost a decade and I can't think of a single instance where I've been impressed or enticed by a piece of film festival swag. Nor can I think of a time that a friend or colleague was. It may work on some people, but I've not met them.

For me the most important thing by far is what I read in advance and festival word-of-mouth. I'd pare down your swag budget and send out more screeners instead.
posted by eugenen at 12:10 AM on December 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I've never been enticed by swag. However, things I've thought were cool: festival branded Chrome messenger bags (as a bike nerd and film nerd I loved this cross over), t-shirts with naughty sayings, and random prize give aways. I went to an Indian film festival one year that served chai from a local vendor while we stood in an incredibly long line in the semi-cold.

I'm also agreeing about the need for media. A really good write up, and an awesome looking still (if provided) is what really moves me.
posted by loriginedumonde at 2:25 AM on December 4, 2011

It helps if there is some way you can tie the promo item into the theme of the film - like Fight Club soap.

Also, although I agree that promo items should never be your entire marketing strategy, studies show that branded swag works. It may not make or break your film, but it's definitely helpful.
posted by radioamy at 7:58 AM on December 4, 2011

Make it a consumable so people won't feel bad about throwing something away. Food, obviously, though soap also qualifies.
posted by wwartorff at 8:12 AM on December 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Agreed with others that no swag has ever particularly enticed me to see a film, but also reiterating the suggestion that the swag be something functional and useful, especially a (branded) consumable. Perhaps a bit of swag that has a good review of the film printed on it? Some of the useful non-consumables I've gotten have been flash drives and light pens (for taking notes in the dark), although those are somewhat generic.
posted by Ms. Toad at 8:37 AM on December 4, 2011

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