Fan-gating, Frantic Selling and a Stripper Pole

How to increase sales with behavioural marketing strategies in a social-digital world.
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by | Jan 16, 2020 | Blog

Hustlers became one of the surprise cinema hits of 2019, grossing $150 million globally on a modest $20 million budget. With the gritty drama set to premiere on home video this week, it’s worth a look back at some of the ways the film was able to cut through the clutter and become a must-see in theatres. Something that was hardly preordained given that “Hustlers” is the story of a group of strippers who plot revenge on their well-heeled clientele – a somewhat less than jolly plot at best.

At a time when the movie world is dominated by moral laden, SFX generated Lycra clad superheroes, it was going to need more than a few lobby posters and in-cinema trailers to drive sales…

Working closely with Fandango, the leading movie ticket business, a ‘behavioural selling’ focused marketing campaign was comissioned.


The foundations for the campaign were built around one question ‘How do we get this movie in front of the right people at the right time with the right message?’


The first step – the key to any successful launch – was self-selection. By adding a ‘fan alert’ to all pre-sale marketing activity Fandango was able to generate tens of thousands of people who asked to be notified as soon as release dates and tickets became available. Alongside this, working with partner websites, a sweepstake campaign created a second-tier database of movie goers.

Fandango doesn’t want specific results shared but the pre-sale campaign reached tens of millions and the self-selected fan alert data prospects were four times as likely to buy tickets than in traditional movie campaigns.

To help keep potential ticket-buyers engaged, exclusive movie clips and interviews with the stars of “Hustlers” were then shared across Facebook and Instagram, as well as on radio and through targeted emails. In one case, an interview with Jennifer Lopez, where she broke down the dance lesson scene from the movie, generated close to 300,000 video views and more than 1 million impressions on digital and social channels.nClips were selected by utilising data that Fandango collected to better understand what materials might resonate.

Early in the “Hustlers” campaign, Fandango helped create customized audience segments to reach potential ticket buyers, identifying those who would find “Hustlers” most relevant to their movie interests. In some cases, the company grouped ticket-buyers based on past purchases — finding audience members who had previously bought tickets for films with Lopez or other cast members such as Constance Wu or who had shown an affinity for female-driven dramas or crime films.


To convert non-ticket buyers after the film opened, they also reached out to audiences who had not seen the film yet, but who had previously showed similar interests to those of opening weekend ticket buyers.

It all worked beautifully. “Hustlers” opened to $33.2 million, the biggest debut ever for a Lopez film and roughly $10 million more than most tracking firms had predicted. On the home entertainment front, “Hustlers” currently has more pre-orders on Fandango NOW than any other movie releasing this week on digital, including “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Downton Abbey” and “Ready or Not.”

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