A Marketing Case Study from Parental Guidance: It’s The Approach, Not the $’s

Share Button

What started as casual internet “research” just became a Marketing Case Study!  I loved Parental Guidance and was curious to see if the critics liked it as well.  So I turned to the granddaddy of all research tools (GOOGLE) and searched on “Parental Guidance Reviews.”  One of the top results returned was the “Rotten Tomatoes” site, which I have heard of but never used.  The site is actually intriguing and very useful, a one stop shop for all things movies.  The front page ranks the top 10 current movies by box office $’s.   Next to the movie name they display the move a “tomatoemeter”, which is listed as “the % of approved tomatoemeter critics who gave the movie a positive review.”

Parental Guidance was ranked #4 on $’s but had the LOWEST score by a WIDE margin at 17%!  Said another way, 83% of the critics were not positive in their opinion.   This is where things get interesting….

When you click on the link of a movie you get all the movie details (trailers, reviews, cast info, etc).  What intrigued me more was the “audience score,” which is defined by the site as “the % of the Rotten Tomatoes users who have rated this movie 3.5 (out of 5) stars or higher.”  What did they score Parental Guidance?  68%, a far cry from 17% of the critics having a positive review.

parental guidance score

 What I wanted to understand:  Is this large “GAP” of 51 points (17% critics – 68% audience) between what the audience scores vs the critics common?  I checked this gap on each of the top 10 movies and summarized it below.

rotten tom movie review

So the answer is (at least for this small subset of 10 movies) that a 51 point Gap between what the critics say vs audience sentiment is highly UNUSUAL!  The largest gap in the top 10 besides PG was 16 points (The Hobbit…) and the average gap excluding PG’s 51 points is only 7.    The statistical term for the 51pt gap between the critics and the audience is what’s known as an OUTLIER.  Something out of the ordinary is going on, but I suspect it’s related to the demographics/”sweet spot” of the critics being vastly different than the people actually watching the movie?  But that’s not important.

What IS interesting however, is what the people who brought this film to market are doing to deal with this (or not).   I limited my discovery to 2 social media platforms, Facebook & Twitter.  Here’s the cursory review to get a feel for the Marketing/”Engagement” approach.



  • 16,477 fans.  10,2664 “talking about it.”  67% of fans “talking”
  • How does this compare to the remaining top 10 movies?  #2, behind only the Guilt Trip with 67%.  The average “talking %” for all 10 movies was 32% as of 1/1/13.  Confirms what Rotten Tomatoes reported:  People really like this movie and will talk about it!  OPPORTUNITY!
  • Their marketing approach?  PUSH, PUSH, PUSH.  And when all else fails, PUSH even more.  How do I come up with this?
  • I scanned the first 15 posts or so, and the majority of the posts from PG are some version of “Buy Me!”  There’s nothing terribly wrong with that, however…..
  • When you look INSIDE the posts and the comments, what is clear is that there is NO ENGAGEMENT!  No thanking people for their kind words, or attempts to generate more conversation.  I hunted for 5 minutes and couldn’t find any engagement, not  even a “Like” on any of the comments.  So I  stopped here…

Facebook Take-Away – It takes very little time to “care” and say Thank YOU!  The pay-back is hard to measure, but real.  People want to engage with real people, not bill-boards.  This is simple, Old-School butcher shop mentality of customer service.  It’s old-fashioned, it worked then and it works now.

Twitter https://twitter.com/ParentalGMovie    #ParentalGuidance

  • 2,112 followers.  Generally a low number for a film with major celebrities (Crystal, Midler) with over 600k followers alone and what is probably a stout marketing budget with countless free media impressions
  • 850 or so “Tweets.”  I would say they do an “OK” job at best, but clearly their objective is to Re-tweet positives (without editing them) that have come primarily from the cast and secondarily the public.  I say secondarily, because there are many examples of positive comments with the #PG that went un-acknowledged from outside the cast.
  • There was one snarky comment about the movie in particular from a person (I will not name) with  30k followers.  Unfortunately, this got Re-tweeted over 218 times and “favorited” nearly 600 times.  What was PG’s response?  I couldn’t find it, so I stopped digging on Twitter at this point.

Twitter take-away:  The conversations will happen whether the brand likes it or not (they always have, always will.)  Would the brands rather be in the middle, or on the outside looking in?

Twitter is often compared to being at a cocktail party.  If you were at a cocktail party, would 90% of your conversations be “look what great things they are all saying about me?”  If the answer is no, then you shouldn’t do that on Social either….

So why does all this matter?  

  • To start, it’s 2013 and we are at a point where the debate on “is social media just a fad?” has long been settled.  It is not going away, and the chatter and debate about “fad” have largely gone away.  That’s progress.
  • MANY brands have jumped in and established a presence on Social Media Platforms.   They are backed with mega investment $’s.  What is obvious however is that many don’t seem to understand that they call it “social” for a reason.  Taking Old School PUSH marketing on-line is arguably worse than doing nothing.
  • Many Brands are not thinking engagement, they are thinking PUSH.  It’s a lost opportunity.

There is a very real window of opportunity for small brands to build a loyal following, hang on, cherish and cultivate their followers while the big brands they compete with are struggling to figure it out.  Stories like this case study are playing out all over the business world.

The Butcher Shop owner that genuinely cares, says “THANK YOU!” and does the little something extra to prove it and carry the Old School “Caring Mentality” out across all of their Marketing will be the one that stays in business, and grows.

Loyalty is earned, not purchased.


For all you movie buffs, a little something extra……

Top Ten Movies Critics Hated But Audiences Loved – AMC Blog – AMC


Share Button

Speak Your Mind



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: