Creative Showcase: UIP Sonic the Hedgehog Movie

Sep 23, 2021
By: Jean Ortiz-Luis

UIP, Paramount Pictures holding company in the Philippines, was looking for a way to heighten awareness and drive box office sales for Sonic the Hedgehog – the 2020 action-adventure comedy based on the beloved Sega video game franchise.

However, when Paramount released the movie trailer in 2019, the company faced a tsunami of negative buzz. Sonic fans all over the world were outraged with the CGI version of the famous speedy hedgehog because he looked distressingly creepy. Paramount took fans’ reactions to heart and redid the animation for the entire film, delaying the release and making the “new” Sonic look faithful to the Sonic fans were accustomed to.

In order to counter the backlash surrounding the “old” Sonic and improve fans’ impression of the new one, UIP partnered with Digital Turbine to position Sonic as the fun and exciting character fans remember. The best way to do that was where it all started: the world of gaming.

About the Campaign

Due to the online backlash brought by the initial CGI version of Sonic, UIP knew that in order to encourage people to watch Sonic the Hedgehog in the cinemas, it had to go beyond standard trailer video promotions to raise awareness of Sonic’s new and improved look on digital media. The company faced the daunting task of transforming Sonic fans’ attitudes from disappointment to excitement around the upcoming film.

With Sonic being a familiar character in the gaming world, UIP sought to create a mobile ad experience that would not only showcase Sonic’s new look but also elicit nostalgia among its target audience of Filipino gamers. The ad started with an exciting 15-second movie preview, followed by a simple yet addictive mobile game where users were encouraged to “tap to catch” the hyper-fast Sonic. Those eager to play again could opt to replay the game.

Leveraging the massive reach of mobile gaming, the ad was served across the top gaming apps. UIP recognized that mobile gaming audiences not only relate to Sonic the Hedgehog’s target audience, but are also more likely to spend their free time on games, and in turn, watching advertisements to earn in-game rewards like coins, or Sonic’s trademark golden rings.

How did it work?

UIP’s “Sonic the Hedgehog, Catch Him If You Can” campaign was amplified across various digital touchpoints. The company reached out to its mobile-savvy target audience via their smartphones with a highly interactive and innovative mobile ad format that showcases Sonic’s own frenetic energy and positive mentality.

Following an exciting 15-second Instant-Play™ HD glimpse into the live-action adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog, mobile users were treated with a blast from their gaming past via a panoramic interactive end card that recreated the original Sega Genesis gaming experience.

Users were invited to “tap to catch” Sonic as everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog zoomed across a highway. Users were then directed to a YouTube page where they could watch the full movie trailer and could also choose to re-play the gamified end card as well.

The well-executed mobile ad delivered fantastic user experience, but more importantly, it reunited Filipino gamers with their much-beloved gaming character, exciting them enough to continue their interaction with Sonic at the movie theater.

Campaign Results

Thanks to the outstanding campaign execution with the gamified mobile ad unit, Digital Turbine and UIP were able to achieve incredible results and successfully turn the initial disappointment from Sonic fans into excitement for the film.

The highly interactive mobile ad garnered a completion rate of almost 84% – a stellar performance compared to the industry benchmark of 60%. Its average CTR was 5.26%, way above the industry average of 2%-3%. Engagement rate was also a phenomenal 11% – 10x what UIP had achieved from previous campaigns.

Most importantly, thanks to this additional mobile ad campaign, Sonic the Hedgehog topped box office sales in the Philippines that weekend, generating a total of $493,617 (Php25 million) – which is amazing considering that it premiered the month leading up to the countrywide lockdown.

All in all, the campaign contributed significantly to heighten awareness and drive box office sales for Sonic the Hedgehog through the power of effective mobile creative and the ubiquitous reach of mobile devices.

By Jean Ortiz-Luis
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