August 19, 2016
To promote its new thriller “Don’t Breathe,” Sony Pictures Entertainment created the first immersive, 360-degree video ad for the social media platform Snapchat, with its more than 150 million mainly young users. The campaign is a 10-second video that lets users “swipe up” to see the 90-second 360-degree video on a Web page in the app. “Don’t Breathe,” about three burglars who invade the home of a blind military veteran and find themselves trapped and fighting for their lives, opens in theaters August 26.
Variety reports that the Snapchat campaign first ran in the U.S. from August 9–15 and will resume before the movie’s premiere; it’s also running on Snapchat in the U.K. and Australia, and can be seen on Facebook and YouTube.
The video, which was created by digital creative agency AvatarLabs, shows the homeowner pursuing the burglars in a gloomy basement. AvatarLabs worked with SPE’s digital marketing team and director Fede Alvarez, a former YouTube creator.
“It’s not just about one-sheets and trailers anymore, but about creating incredible experiences,” said SPE marketing exec Aaron Wahle. Sony also promoted “Ghostbusters” with a sponsored selfie-lens on Snapchat earlier in the summer.
Marketing Week, which reports the movie will open in the U.K. in early September, notes that, “unlike many 360-degree videos where viewers simply turn in place, SPE worked with AvatarLabs to allow viewers to not only rotate their view 360 degrees but also move forward.” An attachment feature lets users read a synopsis or view extra images.
Wahle says the goal was to give viewers the sense of “being in the dark and feeling claustrophobic,” and that “a stranger with super human abilities is coming at you.” He reports that “initial tests show people spend an average of two minutes with the ad,” and that the use of technology in the campaign is “how movies should be marketed in today’s social media age.”
Making the case to use 360-video was a challenge, says Whale, but he believes that, “there is currently a transitioning happening from regular video to 360 video to VR.” “Because Google and Facebook have been doing such a good job of making 360 video and VR a priority, it’s now seeping into mainstream [culture],” he said.
In fact, 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men: Apocalypse” and Warner Bros.’ “Batman v Superman” also relied on Snapchat Lenses for marketing. For “Don’t Breathe,” SPE also brought digital influencers to a recreation of the set in Spain, gave them night-vision goggles and GoPro cameras to walk through.
“It’s important to me that people can experience ‘real world horror’ and get the feeling of stepping into another person’s space, creating an eerie atmosphere, rather than the usual supernatural peek-a-boo scary movies that are so common nowadays,” said Alvarez.