Sitting with the Geeks at The Hunger Games World Premiere

Hunger Games SutherlandI am one of the few people on the planet who has already seen the Hunger Games movie. I have never had more people–men, women and children–ask to be my date until the day I found out I would be getting a ticket to the premiere. The key word in that sentence is “a” ticket. I got ONE.

It all started back in August of 2011 when I accepted a job at Crowd Factory, which is a company whose product is social media widgets. My boss is the one who divvies up the accounts, and I was privileged enough to end up with Lions Gate Films. So far I’ve been part of the social media teams for Abduction, One for the Money, Good Deeds, and now Hunger Games.

I spent most of last year eating, breathing and dreaming up ways to make the Hunger Games fans engage online. I worked diligently with some very creative people at Lions Gate and two external digital agencies. My tiny piece of the pie in all of the Hunger Games digital magic was the “Race for Mayor” campaign on the 13 District Pages (12 Districts and The Capitol) on Facebook.

At 4:30 am on Monday November 14, 2011, there was an open conference line for the incredible group of people with whom I had spent so much time building this amazing immersive experience with. When the Hunger Games movie trailer went live at 5am we simultaneously pushed 13 new Facebook tabs to the District pages on Facebook and held our breath, waiting to see if the fans would respond. The CTA (Call to Action) was simple: I Want to Run for Mayor!

Within a week there were thousands of fans running for mayor. They had created video campaigns on YouTube, and Facebook pages to get people to endorse them, because you see there was a hook. The fan who got the most endorsements would be elected mayor of their District on Facebook, and at the time what they didn’t know is that they would also be invited to attend the world premiere of the movie in Los Angeles.

On Monday March 12, 2012, I proudly sat in Row A of the Loge section at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles with a group of geeks I had spent countless hours on the phone with, but had never met in person. I was grinning from ear to ear when Joe Drake, the President of Lions Gate, came out on stage to introduce the movie and commented on how wildly successful the marketing effort had been for the film so far. According to Fandango, Hunger Games has outsold Twilight Eclipse in pre-sales, making it the most successful pre-sales movie on record.

Then the lights dimmed and adrenalin took over as some of us saw the film for the first time. After the credits rolled we all made our way to the after party. I watched the newly minted stars enjoy their exploding celebrity status, and the veterans like Donald Sutherland graciously pose for photos with everyone who asked, including me.

There were so many moments that evening that were once-in-a-lifetime type moments. The palpable anticipation in the theater before the first frame of the film appeared on screen, and the excitement when the final credits rolled and we all realized we helped create this phenomenon. But the moment that I will never forget was when someone who I really respect at Lions Gate introduced me to someone as a “social media genius.” That made the journey all worthwhile.

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Recent articles:

How ‘Hunger Games’ Built up Must-See Fever. – New York Times

‘Hunger Games’ Dominates Facebook, Online Ticket Sales – Mashable

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