Where Art Meets Hype: A24's Trail of Success Carved by Unconventional Marketing


Caroline Gong

The film industry has been on fire recently. We got Barbie and Oppenheimer and Spiderman this summer, with even more coming along the way. However, even for those of us who aren’t cinephiles, one studio has been producing hit after hit after hit, such as Oscar Best Picture Everything Everwhere All at Once and Academy Award-winning Moonlight.

Despite being an indie film studio, A24 has been blowing everyone’s minds away with their top-notch movies. So the question is: how did they blow up?

In our previous case studies, we’ve looked at quite a few standard B2C companies, discussing their founding stories and most notable strategies. This time, let’s solely focus on A24’s marketing scheme and how its creativity is unmatched.


The setting is 2015, at the SXSW film festival in Austin, Texas. You’re scrolling through Tinder because you’re going through a phase, when a girl named Ava appears in your matches. She’s a pretty 25-year-old New Yorker, and she seems friendly. Why not? So you swipe, and the two of you immediately hit it off.

The conversation starts off fine – you’re exchanging pleasantries and whatnot, but shortly thereafter, she tells you to visit an Instagram page. What?

The link directs you to an ad for the upcoming movie Ex Machina, and you find out that you were, in fact, not talking to an actual 25-year-old New Yorker. You were actually chatting with an AI robot named Ava, one of the key characters in the movie.

And this isn’t the first time A24 has used “less popular” sites for its marketing.

Another instance includes marketing for the movie The End of the Tour, which is about American novelist David Foster Wallace. A24 published a pop-up magazine on blog site Medium, posting several of Wallace’s articles and essays.

Omni-channel marketing is necessary, but the lesson A24 teaches us here is to choose your outlets carefully and derive the most value from them. TikTok and Instagram may not be the best place to market, especially if your target audience doesn’t use them. Instead, work backwards – think about channels that your customers might use and how you can establish a presence in those channels.

The Classic WOM

For a while now, WOM seems to be an outdated form of marketing. But what if I told you that it’s a lot more relevant than you think it is?

The difficult part of WOM is the lack of control marketing teams have over it. After all, you’re relying on your customers to find more customers on your behalf. And yes, that’s true, but the goal behind WOM remains the same: you need to somehow reach your target customers.

A24 has a pretty good WOM strategy, and it threads in other forms of marketing as well.

But first, some context. Because films are incredibly complex to put-together, there are so many different kinds of people that studios have to interact with. But that also means more potential marketing leads. What do I mean by this?

Let’s talk about Oppenheimer. There are several reasons behind its popularity. It has Christopher Nolan as the director, an amazing cast of renowned actors and actresses, a riveting story to tell, and the list goes on. Films are far from one-dimensional, and it’s important that marketing teams are reaching out to each customer group.

Now going back to A24’s WOM scheme, the studio reaches out to all the people it knows it needs to make a successful movie. It sends customized merch to producers, actors, actresses. It gifts fans free and stylish merch. Even bloggers, journalists, and writers receive packages from A24, so that the press has a favorable bias towards the studio.

WOM doesn’t mean you have to play the waiting game. Learn how to take charge of the WOM game by making sure you have a set of quality leads that can either earn you customers or lead you somewhere where you can find customers.

Final Takeaways

While not your typical business model, A24 can teach us a lot about creative and genuine approaches to marketing.

So to summarize:

  • Try to understand your customers’ behaviors. For instance, think about the social media sites they might engage with.
  • Marketing doesn’t just apply to your customers. Especially if you have business partners or collaborators, they are also gold mines of leads. That means you should build genuine relationships with all of the people that are needed to make your product a success.
  • Remember, your goal is to reach your target customers.

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