How Universal Pictures successfully hosted the ultimate Twitter watch party for the premiere of its latest film.
In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Universal Pictures pivoted the premiere of its new movie “Trolls World Tour” to a virtual experience, bringing joy to families in their homes.
Live virtual events, like an online movie premiere, help people feel connected and inspire real-time engagement from fans. 62% of people on Twitter say they are interested in brands hosting live watch parties for movies.1
Universal Pictures headed to Twitter to generate buzz about the film and build awareness in advance of a huge, live watch party to celebrate the film’s release, the first major movie title released directly to premium video on demand since the coronavirus pandemic shut down most theaters.
With the help of celebrities, the director, and members of the cast, the studio used a phased approach to boost the conversation and keep the “Trolls” party going, all while helping those in need during the process. Here’s how the premiere went down:
Ahead of the premiere, Universal kickstarted the conversation about “Trolls” by launching the hashtag #TrollingForGood, which encouraged people to “troll their feed” for good to help spread positivity and raise money for charity.
After getting kicked off on “The Ellen Show,” the hashtag provided an easy way for fans to follow along and participate. For all of the compliments using #TrollingForGood, the studio gave a donation to Little Kids Rock.
Up close and in character
Universal also encouraged engagement with a Twitter Q&A, where fans had the chance to ask a question to Tiny Diamond, the newest, sparkliest star of the “Trolls” universe. Using the hashtag #AskTinyDiamond, fans sent in questions and received in-character replies from Tiny Diamond (voiced by Kenan Thompson). The brand used Thompson’s unmistakable voice to create custom animated videos with real-time responses to fan questions.
Spreading good vibes, live
To keep the momentum going, the studio continued to engage with fans in creative ways that showcased the unique voices of the “Trolls” characters.
One of the most beloved characters from the movie, Smooth Jazz Chaz (voiced by Jamie Dornan), took to Periscope to spread groovy good vibes with a full 10 hours of smooth jazz streaming.
The week of the release, the brand shared a Brand Reminder so that people could opt in to get notified when the watch party started. Universal also ran a Promoted Trend, a high-impact placement at the top of Twitter’s Explore tab, to drive awareness and encourage fans to pre-order the movie in advance of the watch party.
The studio partnered with Twitter to create a Live Event page for the opening weekend, a central destination where people could join the conversation to share their thoughts and reactions. In lieu of a red carpet, Universal hosted a live pre-show featuring the cast’s McElroy brothers and director Walt Dohrn. The Live Event page also used the carousel feature to highlight exclusive content, including a video demonstrating how to draw the Trolls and a behind-the-scenes music video of a song from the film.
Throughout the watch party, fans could tap into an AR experience to take a premiere selfie with the trolls by using a custom background in a photobooth setting, powered by Powster.
Universal also tapped its top “Trolls” talent to Tweet along to encourage people to tune in and keep the party going with fun and engaging content.
Following opening weekend, the studio sustained momentum by using First View, the first Promoted Video people see when starting their Twitter session, to stay top of mind and encourage people to watch on demand.
The “Trolls” watch party was a huge hit. Fans joined in on the fun from home and Tweeted about their excitement.
The creative planning of the #TrollsWorldTour campaign helped the movie release become Universal’s biggest digital debut of all time. On premiere day, @Trolls gained an additional 31,000 followers on Twitter, and the #TrollsWatchParty Promoted Trend performed 54% above benchmark. And in the end, “Trolls World Tour” saw 92% positive sentiment from fans on Twitter. Universal leveraged Twitter to quickly pivot and adapt to the new norm, creating a one-of-a-kind premiere experience that used the celebration of the film’s release to do good and bring people together.
1. Twitter Insiders, US Only, April 9-13, 2020
2. Twitter Internal
3. Weekday Promoted Trend benchmarks
4. Brandwatch, global, Feb. 29-May 5, 2020