Can movie trailers teach you about content marketing?

While we love to hate trailers, the reality is that we never complain when one clenches our attention and refuses to release until the title appears

July 03, 2014

“Aw, man! Not another one!”

Chances are you’ve groaned this phrase while at the movie theatre. According to the Hollywood Reporter, audiences are bombarded with 17-20 minutes of advertising before the film even begins!

While we love to hate trailers, the reality is that we never complain when one clenches our attention and refuses to release until the title appears. Somehow, these trailers mesmerize us for a full two minutes, which is remarkable in an age where consumers tune out ads in as little as 7 seconds.

The ugly reality is few people actually want to read content, but the exciting news is you have the opportunity to hook them on every word. Similar to an excellent movie trailer, it’s your responsibility to engage and excite your online visitors.

What can you learn from the most popular movie trailers of all time?

ALIEN (1979)

Not a single word is spoken during the entire trailer. Instead, the viewer is treated to silence, the deafening emptiness that consumes space. Suddenly, mirroring the images on screen, the trailer is filled with horrifying noise, which builds until the tagline:“In space, no one can hear you scream.” In an age where we’re fighting for consumer attention and SEO success, this is a powerful reminder that sometimes less is more. Contextual imagery, campaign timing, and perceptible taglines often have more power than an overly long blog post.


In 2007, Chris Rule and Nick Eckert recut footage from the original Mary Poppins trailer to make a “scary Mary” trailer. Impeccable editing and an eerie soundtrack create a legitimate scare factor. It’s quite impressive that footage from a happy children’s movie could be edited to look frightening.So why does this matter? When it comes to content marketing, repurposing content is paramount to effectively communicate your message. It saturates your market with the same message while staying fresh, creative, and exciting. Repurposing content doesn’t mean simply paraphrasing existing pieces. Rather, similar to the recut Mary Poppins trailer, it’s about finding new ways to showcase your best marketing message.


The Conjuring trailer presents a storyline different from the actual movie itself. The marketing department decided to recreate a single scene from the film in the most suspenseful way possible. This engaged audiences immediately, as the preview seemed like a mini-movie rather than an advertisement. Similarly, your business should focus on brand storytelling in content marketing. Instead of overly promotional material, focus on creating content that offers value and paints a positive narrative surrounding your brand. Since consumers read over 100,500 words each day, it’s important to improve the memorability of content through brand storytelling.


The 2002 Spiderman trailer broke industry norms and established a template for future superhero films. For the first third of the trailer, the audience is treated to tantalizing glimpses of Spiderman, but each glimpse is so fleeting that we’re not really sure what we’re watching. The middle of the trailer focuses on Peter Parker, introducing us to the story and main characters. By the final third, we’re hooked and bombarded with impressive visual effects and clear shots of Spiderman swinging between skyscrapers. The reason this format works is because it builds suspense within the trailer itself. We ask, “Is this Spiderman we’re seeing?” and the trailer patiently waits to answer that question. Likewise, build suspense in your marketing and identify the best features of your product. This cuts to the heart of what your audience wants!


Prior to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, a fantasy film had never experienced commercial and critical acclaim. New Line Cinema risked $270 million to film the trilogy at once. If it flopped, so would the studio. Creating the trailer was a challenge: the studio wanted to appeal to those who were fans of Tolkein’s work while attracting a broader, general audience. The end result was an epic trailer packed with storyline, visual effects, and a dynamic “big picture” of the trilogy. When it comes to your content marketing, you must find the right voice for your brand and your audience. Is your audience casual or professional? Perhaps it’s a mix of both?


The Shining trailer plays more like the opening or ending credits than it does a conventional trailer. The title appears on screen immediately, followed by the names of internationally known stars. No faces appear on screen, no words are spoken, and then suddenly, the hotel lobby fills with blood. While the trailer doesn't reveal anything about the plot, name-dropping celebrities and sudden rivers of blood are enough to pique interest. Does your brand focus too much on nuanced detail that the average consumer doesn't care about? Identify the most important components of your marketing message and use that in your content. Sometimes less truly is more!


The irony in this trailer is that we immediately know The Fault in Our Stars is a tragic story. We know we’re going to cry, but the trailer manages to stay uplifting and inspirational. There’s never a moment where the trailer comes across as overly sappy or emotional. Instead, it remains positive throughout.It’s important to stay positive in your brand messaging, even when comparing your products and services to your competitors. People resonate with positive and uplifting messages. This is why The Fault in Our Stars opened to $48 million, a record in its genre.

Is your brand incorporating these content marketing lessons?

thanks to business2community





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