The Hobbit: Live Ad

Challenge

Warner Brothers were planning the release of their second film from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug and after the huge success of the first film, they needed to create a special experience for fans.  As this film was a middle release, Warner’s aim was to maintain momentum and avoid franchise fatigue; it was essential to raise awareness, anticipation and make this film worthy of its world renowned identity.

Insight

The most exciting premieres create a sense of occasion and include a combination of the right talent, with the right time and place.

Idea

As far as films go, there is no other part of the movie process that is more glamorous than the Movie Premiere where all the cast A-listers gather to meet fans and speak about the film, so why not bring this special moment to itv viewers?

The European Premiere for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug was taking place in Berlin and so it was decided that bringing the Red Carpet experience into viewers’ living rooms would be the perfect solution to creating a “talked-about” moment, offering the peak ITV audience an exclusive, VIP invitation to be part of it. 

The bespoke commercial was filmed and broadcast “as live” for true authenticity. Its focus was the sense of occasion and to amplify this, the special ad was broadcast simultaneously across all ITV channels in a roadblock strategy to emphasise the scale & exclusivity of the event. 

Interactivity and engagement were key campaign elements to drive appeal amongst the target audience and to generate excitement and anticipation.  This meant that the partnership needed to expand and evolve beyond the traditional TV spot, offering viewers a fully immersive, must-see moment.  All ITV platforms needed to be considered and new ideas explored.

Implementation

60 Second Live

The ‘as live’ 60 second advert was produced by ITN Productions on location at the European Premiere in Berlin.  It captured footage of A-lister guests’ arrival, key cast interviews talking directly to the viewers at home and exclusive footage from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug bringing fans the real red carpet experience just as if they were there themselves.  

Advertising Road Block

The advert aired in the first break of the Royal Variety Performance on ITV, Monday 9th December at 19.45 and simultaneously across ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4.

The Royal Variety Show offered the perfect contextual fit for this Red Carpet occasion.  The roadblock strategy emphasised the sense of an exclusive event being played out in real time, creating an important point of difference and stand out.  This criteria worked well for Warner Brothers press & PR activities.  

Product Placement

The campaign also included tailored, tactical product placement within the nation’s Most Loved and Most Watched soap, Coronation Street.

The PP focused on a specially designed poster for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug featuring Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf which was put up in the Coronation Street bus shelter.  Sir Ian notably made a number of guest appearances in Corrie lending this PP partnership added resonance.  The poster stayed in situ for 2 weeks in December during the film’s key release window and featured prominently in the key editorial scenes leading up to Christmas.

ITV Player

In timely celebration of the film, ITV viewers had the opportunity to watch a new documentary River Deep, Mountain High: James Nesbitt in New Zealand (where The Hobbit trilogy filming took place), on the ITV Player ahead of its broadcast debut on ITV a few days later.  The programme featured an interview with the film’s renowned director Peter Jackson.  James Nesbitt stars in The Hobbit:  Desolation of Smaug and also appeared in the ‘as live’ ad alongside Martin Freeman, The Hobbit himself, so this digital, exclusive preview was a great fit. 

As well as running home page and programme page takeovers across the itv Player to sync with this new documentary, ITV’s innovation format, VOD Explore also supported the exclusive treat commercially.

Results

Research still TBC

We felt there was a real opportunity to bring the excitement of a film premiere to a TV audience within the heart of the peak evening schedule. Through the combination of the live spot roadblock, product placement and promotion on the ITV Player, we have managed to evolve the traditional broadcast spot into something that's deeper and much more engaging.

Danni Murray

We felt there was a real opportunity to bring the excitement of a film premiere to a TV audience within the heart of the peak evening schedule. Through the combination of the live spot roadblock, product placement and promotion on the ITV Player, we have managed to evolve the traditional broadcast spot into something that's deeper and much more engaging.

Danni Murray , Director of Media and Marketing Partnerships at Warner Bros. UK

Together with our production partners at ITN, we’re delighted to be working with Warner Bros in this way, showcasing a unique ‘as live’ ad filmed on the red carpet at the European premiere in the first break of The Royal Variety Show. This partnership is a great example of how ITV can develop solutions across multiple activation points to bring campaigns to life and create incredible stand out.

Kim Gilroy , Account Manager, ITV

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Watch the Live Ad above!