Percy Jackson: taming a fandom

by Joe Schott in News

The word “fandom” is defined by Urban Dictionary as “a cult that will destroy your life”. Those who have provoked a fandom’s ire know that to be true. Cross a fandom, misquote a line or forget a small detail in a character’s lore and those who you considered your closest allies will turn on you without a moment’s hesitation. Enter Percy Jackson.

When 20th Century Fox approached us regarding Percy Jackson, one of their assets was a devoted fandom who were fanatic about the films. But rather than recoiling in horror, we put on our reading glasses and got to work. From the very beginning we set out to connect with this fandom, to become one of them, know their lauded artists and most worshipped characters, their OTPs (one true pairing) and favourite moments from the films.

Countless hours of research, fan fiction reading, fan art searching and wiki research resulted in a successful pitch and the beginning of awaking a dormant, disorganised Percy Jackson audience from their slumber. Fox had not touched any of their accounts since the first Percy Jackson movie hit the DVD racks. To give you some perspective this was in 2010 at a time when Twitter wasn’t something many brands did yet and Tumblr was still fairly underground.

We got to work resuscitating our dormant audience. We began assimilating impostor Facebook pages and reaching out to fandom leaders. We founded a Percy Jackson Twitter account and locked down a killer Tumblr. Percy Jackson was alive again and we created content that really resonated with the target audience. However it was on Twitter that we really shined.

One of our most popular activations on the platform, in-character takeovers, benefited greatly from our intensive research. Highly interactive, we opened up the handle to a two-way conversations talking to the “Demigods” on Twitter. We were expected by the audience to understand and play off of in-jokes, answer questions, run with the fanatics and we delivered. In one day, our first in-character takeover featuring Hermes (God of Messengers, Travellers and Thieves fyi) saw over 1,000 retweets and nearly 2,500 @mentions of our handle, @PercyMovies.

Another key win was identifying which moments from the books fans would want to see in film form the most and making those fans work for it. In Percy Jackson’s case, that scene involved a satyr (half goat/half human hybrid) wearing a wedding dress. We tasked our Demigods with a Flock to Unlock, where they had to use #PercyJackson 5,000 times to unlock the image exclusively on Twitter. We ended up with 24,000 mentions of #PercyJackson and a worldwide #PercyJackson trending topic. We hit it out of the park.

Fandoms can be described with one word: intense. However, they can be your strongest ally in social. Many times, these are groups of kids who grew up on the internet, in chat rooms, on social and get it completely. Understanding that we had a very socially-minded audience and never selling them short was the key to our success. We did our homework and not only started a Twitter handle for the film franchise which now has over 140,000 followers, we represented 20th Century Fox as a entity that understands their fans and their film. They now have an authoritative presence on Facebook, a Twitter with a robust following, and a slick Tumblr: all with a fandom that’s chomping at the bit for more content.

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