Julian Gratton

The story of ‘The Shot’ social media campaign for Jessops

Sometimes you come up with an idea that even you think will never come off. Especially when that idea has a low budget, nowhere in the marketing plan for it to go and involves a Hollywood filmmaker. Yet if there is one thing that our ‘The Shot’ social media campaign for Jessops proves, it’s that if an idea is good enough, people will get behind it and help you make it a reality.

Sometimes you come up with an idea that even you think will never come off. Especially when that idea doesn’t have a place in the budget, nowhere in the marketing plan for it to go and involves a Hollywood filmmaker. Yet if there is one thing that our ‘The Shot’ social media campaign for Jessops proves, it’s that if an idea is good enough, people will get behind it and help you make it a reality.

Since we won Jessops as a client, Stuart (Red C’s Senior Copywriter) and I had wanted to do something to help Jessops promote the HD movie function of DSLR and Digital Cameras to the Jessops customer base. We also thought we could connect Jessops to the next generation of filmmakers and camera enthusiasts by creating a short film competition that would spread like wildfire through word-of-mouth.

Selling the idea

‘The Shot’ story started out one summer, at Deansgate Locks in Manchester. Myself, Stuart, the Commercials Director, Chris Gaffey, and The Mob Films MD and Exec Producer, John Brocklehurst were having lunch when we floated the idea of a film competition requiring entrants to shoot a short film using nothing but the film function on a DSLR or Digital Stills camera.

By the time lunch finished it was agreed that we would approach Jessops about the idea and John Brocklehurst, who is passionate about developing young talent, would mention the idea to Hollywood filmmaker Paul WS Anderson. The next thing we knew Jessops were massively excited about the idea (thanks to the Red C Account Handling team) and Mr Anderson was also on board. We had the go ahead… we just needed a compelling concept to bring it to life.

Stuart and I locked ourselves away and came up with an initial round of ideas, from a Jessops Film Festival to a simple ‘impress me’ route and one titled ‘The Shot’, which we then presented to Paul WS Anderson. He was really on board with ‘The Shot’ so we roped in Red C Art Director, Lara Morton, who gave the concept an iconic, Saul Bass inspired look and feel. Suitably impressed, Jessops, Paul WS Anderson & The Mob quickly signed it off. Even better, Nikon offered to fund the prize and Paul agreed that the winner could come and spend some time with him on the set of his latest movie.

Promoting the campaign

We had a terrific campaign offering an unbelievable, money-can’t-buy prize. But with a very small budget for promotion we knew we were going to have to think cute to spread the word. We started with Direct Mail, sending out an A2 movie poster and accompanying letter detailing the entry requirements and prizes to film schools up and down the country.

Then we messaged film schools and film societies on Facebook and via their Websites, as well as hunting down and messaging scriptwriters, cinematographers and film students on Twitter. We also planted messages on forums like indietalk.com, which is a forum for independent filmmakers in the UK.

And thanks to such popular blogs as heyyouguys.com and dogatemywookie.com, and filmmaking magazine Moviescope… the word was truly out there! Also thanks has to go to Milla Jovovich (the wife of Paul WS Anderson), because of her kind retweet, we reached over a million people in the first week through Twitter alone and received countless retweets.

The entries

At first the entries came in a trickle. We were impressed, but also a little worried. Had we failed in letting people know about the competition? Or was the prize of Nikon gear and the opportunity to meet Paul WS Anderson not good enough?

Luckily our fears subsided by mid January (about two weeks before the competition closed) as we were inundated with entries. The evening of deadline day was incredibly frantic as we tried to cope with the amount of films we received.

We were simply bowled over by the quality, effort and inventiveness of the entries. We had everything from action comedies, heart-wrenching dramas, action movies and historical thrillers… all themed around the title of ‘The Shot’.

Judging, was going to be tough!

The judging

It was clear that we could not ask Paul WS Anderson to watch all of the films that were entered. So John from The Mob had a brilliant idea; we would rope in some other judges to compile a shortlist of films for Paul to watch. These judges included Vadim Jean, Director of the award-winning Leon the Pigfarmer and Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather and Going Postal; we also had Bharat Nalluri, the Director of Spooks and Mrs Pettigrew Lives for a Day as well as several other luminaries from TV, Film and Advertising.

Vadim Jean meets Stuart and Julian from Red C
Vadim Jean meets Stuart and Julian from Red C

Finally, after weeks of judging we had a final 10 that we sent to the US for Paul to watch and pick his winners. It was clear, though, that we couldn’t just announce the winners on Facebook or via the press… we needed a Premiere and a glittering award-ceremony where the finalists could see their film on the big screen and get to mingle with people who had made it in the filmmaking business.

The screening and winner

We found the perfect location in the Covent Garden Hotel, a stunning boutique hotel with its own screening room. We arrived early, filmed some brief interviews with ourselves, Jessops’ Head of Marketing and E-Commerce, Sean Emmet and Marketing and PR Executive, Felicity Watson, plus Vadim Jean who had kindly given up his time to meet the finalists in person and present the winners with their prizes.

There would be a prize for first, second and third place. And so, once all the finalists had arrived, we settled down into the auditorium and watched each of the shortlisted films though in their entirety. Once again we were struck by just how strong each entry was, something Vadim was keen to stress in his introduction. However, there could only be one winner, so once the final credits had rolled, Paul WS Anderson appeared on screen to deliver his verdict.

In third place…George Fox.

In second place…Miren Patel.

And finally, the winner of The Shot, David Schofield.

A big thank you to all the finalists, they should feel very proud of the great work they’ve achieved in such a short space of time. Thanks too to everyone at The Mob Films, especially the judges for giving up their time to support the competition (and of course a special mention to Dave Birchall for making things run smoothly at the screening). And finally thanks to Jessops and Nikon for funding the project and making it happen. It’s nice to think that with their help, we may have unearthed some of the film-making stars of the future.