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Ad Age Offers 4 Marketing Lessons from 'Paranormal'

"Don't waste money on large-scale TV campaigns when you can talk directly to your fans."

You're going to be hearing lots and lots about "Paranormal Activity" as it continues to build at the box office. (In fact, we'll have an interview with director Oren Peli, stay tuned for that tomorrow.)

The unusual roll-out of this movie is one model that studios are going to need to look at closely as distribution options for smaller to midsize movies continues to shrink. 

TheWrap took a close look at the varying uses of social media in movie marketing campaigns. ('Friends' of Facebook: Studio Marketers)

Now Advertising Age takes a look at the ultra-low budget horror hit and came up with four lessons to be learned for the marketing community.

·  Let consumers dictate distribution. Once "Paranormal Activity" reaches 1 million Demands on its Eventful page, Paramount will release the movie within a reasonable radius of all the fans who demanded the movie by providing their age and zip code. "It totally transforms the brand into a benefactor," Eventful CEO Jordan Glazier said of the site's marketing model. "You now have a self-identified list of participants who are passionate about entertainment, and the event brand has even more value to them."

·  Don't waste money on large-scale TV campaigns when you can talk directly to your fans. "[Paramount is] using social media as a marketing vehicle as well as a market-research vehicle," said Sarah Hofstetter, a senior VP at 360i, an independent digital-communications agency that has worked with Paramount on previous campaigns.

·  Don't create false hype. Ten years ago, "The Blair Witch Project" struck gold with one of the most successful viral movie marketing strategies to date by trying to pass itself as a documentary rather than a fictional horror movie. "Paranormal Activity's" theatrical trailer and TV spots are focused more on marketing the audience's terrified reactions to the movie itself.

·  When there are low financial barriers, have fun. "Paranormal Activity" cost a mere $15,000 to produce, with little spent thus far on traditional media, so Paramount stands to recoup any overhead costs thousands of times over if the film catches on with a national audience. But despite the initial success, "If it all ended today we'd be very happy," said Paul Greenstein, the studio's co-president, marketing.