Universal execs tell TheWrap that the studio leveraged the buzzy reading app in order to engage audiences with its Luc Besson thriller
Luc Besson‘s “Lucy” imagines a world in which an ordinary woman (Scarlett Johansson) gains extraordinary powers by simply accessing more parts of her brain, unlocking the potential that was inside her all along, which makes Universal's partnership with reading app Spritz on the film's marketing campaign a natural fit.
The app purports to cut down on reading time by flashing 13 characters at a time directly in a person's eyeline instead of requiring the reader to move their eyes from left to right to take in a page of text. The app began gaining traction in the media this March, co-founder and CEO Frank Waldman tells TheWrap. Universal digital marketing executive Cameron Curtis took notice and approached Spritz about visually communicating how a person could use their brain more effectively.
See video: ‘Lucy’ WrapOff Review: ‘Mildly Under-Ripe’
Just as Lucy experiences in the film, readers using the app are able to read and access information faster. In an interactive section of the film's official website, visitors are invited to “read like Lucy” and try out the Spritz app.
Universal's executive vice president of digital marketing, Doug Neil, says the feature has seen extremely high engagement on the site, about 50 times more than normal features like trailers, photos or cast bios. As for how that high engagement would translate to the box office, he tells TheWrap, “I think the more we can take people into the story element, it's going to help drive intent and interest.”
While the Spritz app shares a serendipitous similarity with the plot of “Lucy” that made its integration into the marketing campaign seamless, both the studio and the app creators seem to recognize it wouldn't be quite so easy to replicate the campaign exactly on other projects. However, they're open to it, and Waldman says they are already working with other entertainment properties to use Spritz not only in marketing, but perhaps onscreen as well.
“It's about looking for — who are those voices, what is the technology, unique apps, websites, etc. that we can work with to promote and integrate our films,” said Neil. “It has to do with how people are spending their time, how we can stay current and relevant.”
Neil also points to a Universal partnership with YouTube personality Ryan Higa, who partnered with Universal to produce a parody of the “Lucy” trailer, which has since racked up over 2 million views on the video sharing site, citing it as an example of “someone who has cultural relevancy who is exposing the story to his audience in his unique voice.”
Universal already did something similar for their upcoming release “As Above/So Below,” filming a “Paris Catacombs Challenge” with Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known by his YouTube name PewDiePie, who's in possession of the most subscribers on YouTube. The video, posted in April, has more than 3 million views.
“Lucy” is now out in theaters. Spritz is in talks with publishing houses to offer more books in Spritz format.