from the gifted-awesomeness dept
Joss Whedon has long held a special place in the hearts of geeks. And not only for producing some real cultural gifts, such as Firefly and the Avengers movies. On top of those achievements, he’s also been fairly proactive when it comes to embracing digital business models and treating fans with an unmatched level of awesomeness.
With that in mind, it may not come as a huge shock when David Cortright writes in about Whedon going to some great lengths to show fans his appreciation while also giving them a reason to watch his latest short film and generating a ton of goodwill marketing on top of it.
Most filmmakers are grateful for the support of their audience, but for the past few weeks, Joss Whedon has really been demonstrating his gratitude. Last month, Whedon announced at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of In Your Eyes — the supernatural romance starring Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David and directed by Brin Hill (Ball Don’t Lie), which Whedon wrote and executive produced — that fans could watch the film immediately by renting it for $5 through Vimeo. Since then, Whedon’s filmmaking team has been secretly sending thank-you gifts to a random selection of fans who have streamed the movie.
Those gifts have ranged from planted cacti to cooking grills all the way up to Apple TVs and Xbox Ones. Those thank you gifts were also distributed not only in the United States, but as far away as the UK, Germany, New Zealand and Dubai. How do we know about all this? Was it because Whedon and his team went out of their way to operate this system as some kind of bribery contest to get people to watch the film? No. Instead, we’re learning about it because recipients of the thank you gifts are going out of their way to thank Whedon and sharing the acts of awesomeness on social media.
@adriaanbloem: Rented #inyoureyes on Vimeo, and they then sent a “small token of appreciation”: an Apple TV! Smart marketing because yes, I’m tweeting this
It’s a hell of a promotional tool, to have some of your biggest fans get the word out both about your movie and the kind of behavior that can’t help but breed goodwill and positive marketing. In other words, like anything else, this isn’t so much altruism as combined marketing efforts between a producer and fans that results from being awesome. By gifting a small and somewhat random number of viewers of a small film, suddenly you have a flurry of attention being paid where otherwise there might be little.
“The idea was we’re doing something a little different, and we just want to say thank you,” said Roiff. “Someone said on social media, like, ‘Oh, it’s almost like they got Kickstarter backwards and they’re doing it in reverse.’ That is sort of what we’re doing, saying, you know what, this is working out, and we want to say thanks and give something back, and try to keep people talking so we can keep doing it this way.”
It’s working and it’s a lesson to other creators and artists about how much benefit can be garnered simply by treating their fans well.