IMAX and Warner Bros. (WB) joined
forces to develop a strategy including creative development, publicity,
digital, exhibition, and more to reposition pandas as not just cute and cuddly
animals, but as endangered animals who need our help. Infusing levity and a
sense of wonder throughout the marketing campaign, IMAX and WB also reinforced
the consumer value proposition: IMAX brings people together through
extraordinary experiences.

A major tentpole in the campaign was
selecting a narrator who could appeal to a wide range of audiences, would be a
vehicle to drive consumer awareness and was authentic to and passionate about
the cause at hand—saving giant pandas. Kristen Bell was perfectly cast in this
role and was influential in generating awareness across social media, press,
and more. Another major tentpole was setting up institutional theatres for
success and giving them unique tools to promote this film as well as create
educational opportunities for audiences, especially the younger audiences.
Rolling out educational materials and creative videos–such as kids sharing
facts about pandas and the plot of Pandas
(in their own words), IMAX and WB found ways to differentiate this campaign and
set up their partners for success.

To generate press and awareness, IMAX
and WB tapped into influencers via social media on International Panda Day,
hosted a blockbuster-worthy Hollywood premiere, went on an impactful press tour
with talent, and leveraged the star power of perfectly casted narrator, Kristen
Bell. Kristen was front and center for important appearances and interviews
with outlets such as the Associated Press, USA Today, and others such as The
Ellen Show, which was complete with fun panda-related games she played with the
highly influential Ellen DeGeneres. As the GSCA Achievement Award judges noted,
even with major stars, it’s not easy to get that kind of coverage without a lot
of work.


To kick things off in a big way for
the phase one big idea, IMAX and WB held an epic World Premiere at the IMAX
theatre at the TCL in Hollywood, which resulted in phenomenal coverage.  

Additionally, the big idea for phase
two of the film’s release highlights kids conveying the greatness of this film
in their own (sometimes comical) words, which will generate continued momentum
for the film and across social media, as well as provide to institutions for
educational and promotional use.

Social Media

The digital marketing campaign
transported followers into the world of Pandas
through exclusive content reveals, cross promotion on talent’s social channels,
influencer engagement, live posts from the premiere, activations on
International Panda Day, and more. The social media campaign on IMAX channels
alone saw a total of 36 million in potential audience reach, the overall
campaign across all social channels saw 662M potential impressions, and there
is more to come with the film’s commercial release and continued international

Collateral Materials

A three-phased (Teaser, Payoff,
Sustaining) creative rollout was developed for both institutional and
commercial locations. Hundreds of unique print assets, digital assets, and AV
Assets have been produced and utilized across digital, in theatres, and in marketing/advertising
including digital, TV and radio spots, and more. To support educators,
educational in-classroom posters and an online educator’s activity book with
diverse activities were created. Across digital channels, bespoke marketing
materials were also developed for educational and promotional use.


Educational in-classroom posters
were developed and sent to exhibitors. A 43-page online activity guide with
interactive activities that included math, science, language arts, and a craft
were intended for teachers and informal science providers.

Promotional Items

Branded promotional items including
panda masks, plushes, knapsacks, spirit hoods, and activity books were provided
to theaters to extend their social media engagement and to delight audiences
with in-theater gifts.

Community Partners

IMAX worked with not-for-profits
Global Cause Foundation and Kilham Bear Center. Global Cause has cooperated
with Chinese researchers to expand the wild panda population since 2008. IMAX
arranged complimentary screenings for Global Cause related groups and the
foundation cross promotes on their website. The Kilham Center also promotes the
film through digital assets and postcards provided by IMAX.

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