Industry Report: Marketing
Marketing & Distribution – Media Business School
by Sergio Rios
21/01/2010 - On July, the Media Business School held the ninth edition of Marketing and Distribution workshop, with the partnership of Paramount Pictures and the MEDIA Programme of the European Union. Cineuropa had the chance to talk to José Garasino, director of activities of the Media Business School, and Julia Short, MD course director, about this training programme, one of the very few in Europe that deals specifically with this field. According to them, “the European film industry has too often been focused on production at the expense of marketing and distribution, and MD is an important part of a trend in the opposite direction. Only through successful exploitation of our films on the international market can the European film industry thrive and expand. We hope that through MD we will help equip a new generation of producers and executives to be part of that process.”
The course was based on three key elements: Training (with plenary sessions, tutorials, workshops, case studies and screenings, designed to enhance the career potential of participants by creating a practical environment in which to advance their knowledge of the theatrical release strategies at both international and local levels, creating the right marketing campaign, the best use of publicity and promotions, the impact of the Internet as a market research and promotion tool, the acquisition process, TV Sales and acquisitions, the European marketplace as well as Sales agents and film festivals), Consulting (input and feedback from a team of leading professionals) and Networking (programme enables the participant to significantly extend their personal network of professional contacts).
This last element, networking, is particularly stressed by José Garasino, since the film industry “is made of people, it's a job about getting to know people and people to know you. Not only to get a job, but also to get the people you need when you need them, to know how they work and to know what's going on, because every professional has to be very aware of the marketplace and the more people you know, the more connections you have.”
Another significant aspect is, as José Garasino pointed out, that this is a course “given by professionals. It's not an abstract course on theoretical things. You're discussing actual things that happen on the day-to-day of marketing and distribution companies. It's the knowledge you don't get in the books, magazines or interviews. It's the people giving you an insight of what's happening behind the curtains.”
The goal of MD is “to teach professionals. People who already work in the industry, with a two-three years experience in marketing and promotion. They already know the basics and they want to step up. Obviously, it's not always the case, but it's the ideal case,” said Garasino. However, Short talked about the importance of “getting that mix of different people from different backgrounds, so that they can complement each other. It's a balance.” Also, Garasino talked about the “people coming from other industries who want to move to film industry and have very valuable information.” Short adds, “When participants go back to their jobs, whether they are in marketing, or publicity or distribution, they have a better understanding of everybody else's job and where they fit within that marketing mix, so they can have a greater contribution when they come back.”
When asked about Marketing and Distribution importance in the industry, Short explained that “I think that the problem internationally with distribution is that we don't have an united voice. Producers are really good at getting together and being vocal and lobbying and all that, and distributors aren't very good at that, [...] so we don't have a loud voice. Producers have a much louder voice. From an UK perspective, I think it's much sexier to be a film producer than it is to be a film distributor. In general training, people want to be a film director or film producer, because it's more creative (although in fact if you want to be a film producer, you have to be very business-minded). Distribution is not the sexy side of the industry, although I think it is, because you have to be very, very creative. Besides, fundamentally there are not that many jobs in distribution as in film production. In the whole UK, there are like 300 people working in distribution. It's such a tiny sector of the industry. We don't have a loud voice, but then you could argue that we are not entitled to it since there are relatively small numbers involved in it.”
Nine editions are enough to have some perspective on how marketing and distribution has changed and which are the challenges it's facing right now. Julia Short stressed “piracy and digital, such a big thing. Digital distribution, digital marketing. Another thing is marketing getting more sophisticated. In the industry in general, people are getting into film marketing from other disciplines. Right now it's not like putting up a couple of posters but buying TV ads and making sure that those TV ads apply to a specific target.” Garasino added “marketing professionals have much better tools to know their target and audience. It's a Golden Age for marketing people in a way. You have tools you didn't had before.“ Besides, he said, “producers are getting more and more aware of how important is to market a picture even before doing it, how to put it in the market. Years ago, almost no producer talked about that."