This essay will present an analysis of some of the reasons for the commercial success of the recent movie "The Hunger Games" a film that generated $155m in ticket sales in the US alone (LA Times, 2012). One of the key activities of the marketing function is to undertake environmental analysis in order to consider adaptations to the marketing mix which will ultimately lead to higher levels of profitability (Jobber, 2007). A key aspect which the success of The Hunger Games draws upon is a changing social dynamic within the external environment which has seen a preference of consumers for movies over books. As such, it is argued that the success rate of many recent movies including The Hunger Games and other well known films such as the Harry Potter series have come from what is essentially a product adaption from book to motion picture, a conversion which better meets the needs of the consumer (LA Times, 2012). Other factors that may be seen as relating to the successes driven by considerations in the external environment relate to the timing of the release of the product. A well known definition of good marketing being the right product, in the right place at the right time (Brassington and Pettitt, 2006). In this case, Velasco (2012) argues that the timing of the release of the product was a crucial piece of marketing, in effect the March rollout seeing that The Hunger Games was released into a market which was largely devoid of competition with many competing major motion pictures not being due for release until the later summer period. Other theoretical considerations which aid one's understanding of the reasons for the commercial success of the hunger games may relate to customer segmentation and targeting (Kotler et al, 2009). In this case, sources compare the success of The Hunger Games to that of the Harry Potter series. Here it is indicated that The Hunger Games takes advantage of a broader approach to demographic segmentation than that of the Harry Potter films (LA Times, 2012). For instance, while the Harry Potter series has a very limited audience, namely children and those looking after them, The Hunger Games was marketed at a much broader demographic including the lucrative teenage segment. As such, a broader interpretation of the segmentation concept saw The Hunger Games simply having a wider audience to draw upon in the first place. Some sources have also indicated that in its current format as a motion picture, the film has "downplayed" the romantic aspects of the original book in an attempt to further widen the appeal to both male and female segments of the population (Velasco, 2012). Again this may be seen as a key reason for the success of the movie with an audience which is potentially twice as big in comparison to targeting only one gender group. Other sources in analysing the commercial success of the movie have considered the direct promotional elements of the marketing mix (Brassington and Pettit, 2006) most notably focusing upon contemporary forms of promotion such as social media advertising (Belch and Belch, 2009). In this case, Acuna (2012) argues that The Hunger Games has made use of the most comprehensive social media marketing campaign of any movie to date which has included a raft of activity on social networking sites such as Facebook and activity using other sources such as Tumbler and Twitter. Such activities are designed to effectively amplify the official messages transmitted by advertisers with advertising in the social media often resembling that of traditional word of mouth forms of marketing (Yeshin, 2006). In analysing this element of the marketing mix, one may consider that the use of such promotional activities also links to the segmentation and targeting strategy as previously outlined. In this case, one may see that the teenage to early twenties target audience is also the audience which is most susceptible to social media and other forms of contemporary advertising. Other sources such as Reuters (2012) go further in assessing the impact of The Hunger Games online and social media marketing campaign. In this case there is a consideration that the marketing campaign on the behalf of The Hunger Games in the social media environment has been so large in scale and so successful that this will limit the amount of money future film producers spend on traditional advertising such as television advertising. Despite this success seen in the context of The Hunger Games, the article (Reuters, 2012) goes on to point out that such a tactic is far from risk free with the previous 2009 film "Bruno" suffering from "bad-word-of-mouth" reviews in the online social environment and damaging the credibility of the offer. Despite the use and success of contemporary forms of marketing such as online marketing and social media marketing, the films promoters have not neglected classical forms of promotional material with considerable effort being made to raise the profile of the movie through traditional paper based forms of advertising. In this case Acuna (2012) indicated that in the US 80,000 free posters for the film were handed out while another 3,000 billboard and bus shelter hoardings were paid for. All of these may be seen as key methods of raising the profile of a marketing offer in the context of an untargeted marketing audience (Yeshin, 2006). Having reviewed the evidence there is little doubt that the recent major motion picture The Hunger Games has been a commercial success and that furthermore, a large amount of this success has been due to positive marketing activities. However, the paper has also revealed that in order to create such a marketing success a whole range of activities and factors have had to be taken into account including environmental analysis, effective segmentation and the creation of an innovative marketing mix. If there is a single important factor to be derived from this paper then it is perhaps the need for contemporary marketers to truly understand the changing landscape of the promotional environment in which social media marketing may now be seen as a core area of focus moving forward.
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