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Viral and Social Marketing Hall of Fame 2010
Paramount Pictures' 'Paranormal Activity' Nationwide Opening Campaign
Campaign webpage

MarketingSherpa Summary:
This horror movie benefited from almost paranormal levels of online buzz when its marketing team released the film for limited midnight screenings in 13 college markets. But the campaign's call-to-action caused more than 1 million consumers to demand that the film open in their cities as well -- paving the way for a nationwide release.

See how this multichannel campaign used everything from websites to widgets to promote the film "Paranormal Activity." The results were so good, they were scary!

Agency: Eventful Inc.
Paramount Pictures
Launch date of campaign:
September 16, 2009
Target audience/demographic: Moviegoers, horror genre fans

The primary goal of the campaign was to determine the distribution strategy for Paramount’s film "Paranormal Activity." Paramount released the film in 13 college markets for midnight screenings and wanted to gauge demand for the film around the rest of the country. As demand for the film increased and the campaign went viral across the social web via one-click viral sharing tools, Paramount declared that if one million Demands were reached, "Paranormal Activity" would be released nationwide. This is the first ever major motion picture release decided by the fans.

Campaign Description:
Our theme: "Get 1,000,000 Demands and 'Paranormal Activity' Will Open Nationwide. The First Ever Major Film Release Decided by You!"

Paramount and Eventful ran a digital social media campaign for fans to demand that the film be released in their city. Eventful activated their community through dedicated email and digital promotions, prompting the Eventful community to watch the terrifying trailer and click to Demand the film in their city. Paramount activated their community with a dedicated website for the film, Facebook page for the film, Twitter page for the film, dedicated e-mail, and press release, all of which included the Demand it! call-to-action. Paramount also featured the Demand it! call-to-action at the end of the film trailer.

Eventful incorporated "Paranormal Activity’s" film art to create the microsite that hosted the trailer, a real-time Demands counter, real-time Demands by city ranked from highest to lowest, and hosted the viral one-click share tools.

The design of the moving Demands counter increased participation as fans were engaged with watching the count go up in real time, as messaging was disseminated across the social web through viral sharing.

Campaign widgets, applications and banners were used by Paramount, Eventful, and partner sites for fans to participate and share on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, blogs and other websites.

Social media tools were integrated into the campaign (landing page, emails) for participants to easily spread the word with one click on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and in email.

Channels Used:
We used the following channels for the campaign:

o Paramount’s website (prominent Demand it! integration)
o Paramount’s official trailer for "Paranormal Activity" (included a Demand it! call-to-action at the end)
o Paramount’s official Facebook page for "Paranormal Activity"
o Paramount’s official Twitter page for "Paranormal Activity"
o Eventful’s website (ad placements)
o Dedicated emails to Eventful’s user base to activate participation
o Inclusion in Eventful’s weekly newsletter
o Press outreach to entertainment websites, blogs, and publications
o Social media websites including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace

Measurement Tactics:
The following tactics were used to determine the results of the following categories:

- Participation: We built a custom flash counter that measured the number of Demands in real time. Anyone who visited the website (or had the flash widget) could see how many unique participants there were in real time.

- Campaign landing page visits: We used website analytics to determine page views, entrance sources and time on site.

- Widget impressions: We wrote a script to track how many total impressions the widgets received on the Web.

- Emails: Our internal email system tracks stats including open rates, click-to-open rates and click rates by demographics. Emails can also be targeted to specific demographics (geo, age, gender, entertainment tastes, and household income).

- Ticket referrals: We sent dedicated emails with links to purchase tickets for "Paranormal Activity," and using click tracking we could track the number of clicks that were sent to,, and individual theaters’ websites.

- DVD sales: We tracked the click referrals to purchase the special edition DVD where participants in the social media campaign were given the opportunity to list their name in the DVD film credits.

- Box office sales were the primary indicator that the campaign was driving ticket sales.

How the Audience Helped Spread the Message:
The audience was the primary impetus of the campaign's success. Press outlets and horror film sites covered the campaign and added widgets, banners and the trailer to their sites for their audience to participate. Some of these outlets included:

Once fans Demanded "Paranormal Activity," they landed back on the campaign page where they could grab the widget, click to post a message on Facebook or Twitter, or send an email to their friends. Mid-campaign, we sent out an email to all of the participants with social media share tools to encourage them to spread the word to their friends. "Paranormal Activity" also became a trending topic on Twitter for days.

The campaign exceeded our goals. "Paranormal Activity" is the most profitable film in the history of the industry with gross sales in theaters worldwide of $193,296,769 (according to

o Participants: 1.4 million
o Campaign landing page views on Eventful: 7 million
o Widget impressions: 1 million
o Emails and newsletters sent: 25 million (with an average open rate of 43%)
o Eventful ticket referrals for "Paranormal Activity" (through online and email marketing): 500,000
o Eventful DVD purchase referrals: 250,000 referrals to to buy the DVD

How Results Changed Over Time:
The campaign's initial performance was very strong, with more than 8,000 participants in the first day and 250,000 by the end of the second week. The campaign had steady participation throughout. As midnight screenings were slowly released across the country, the momentum accelerated as word got out. The entire campaign took four weeks to get to 1.4 million unique participants.

Biggest Lesson:
The biggest lesson learned was that if you empower consumers to become not only influencers but also decision makers, then they will be your best promoters and contribute to the success of your campaign.

The participants of the "Paranormal Activity" campaign were empowered to determine the film’s distribution. The product or "prize" (the film release) was already enticing to consumers, but because we gave them a goal of reaching 1,000,000 they were motivated to spread the word in order to reach the goal. Because social media tools were integrated throughout the campaign, it gave participants easy access to spread the word.

We would be happy to do it all over again!