Compton: Not, the movie… The Digital Campaign behind it

This article began as a single tweet based on a digital campaign I have been following for months and participated in as a fan. It quickly changed into an article and eventually a small case study that started in the wee hours of Saturday morning while I was on my painting break. Psssst! I am a Digital Strategist by day and a Painter by night. I also advise my clients on the pros of exploiting new media for their brands, integrating it with traditional media and the cons of ignoring it. To that effect, I manage their expectations, excitement and on those tough times some of the disappointment when I have to. That makes me a Brand Partner that paints, and I avoid doing bad paintings just as much as I avoid doing bad digital plans.
Forget the usual format of numbers; the movie is a story and this article, study, whatever you call it will try to be loyal to that story as well. If you are old skool please Google NWA and read a bit about each member first.


Well, Let’s Get to It

More than just the reviews, The NWA biopic has impressed me as a hiphop fan and strategist with a simple plan based on already existing habits in the form of online graffiti/memes to spread awareness about the release. Every time you visit to create your own ‘Straight outta Compton movie poster-esque image’ you are exposed to a Beats by Dre logo (Cool Aspirational Brand Association) and the release date of the movie – If you click on the logo you are taken to the Beats by Dre site. The Beats logo is also included in the User interface as well as the final picture you create as caption watermarks. Internet trends change so fast so as a brand you have to keep your noise loud, interesting and pull the next rabbit out of the hat before Netizens get bored of your tricks and look for another interesting act or thing to talk about. Social media most times, is a circus. This web app platform was a very cost effective and efficient digital strategy idea that ensured there was enough awareness before and after the movie. The trailer to the movie was released on June 18th online through the movie’s official account, a month or two before the web app platform and actual movie came out.



Plot Thickens

On August 1st 2015, Dr. Dre announced the release of his third & final album as a recording artist. In the interview that was availed online, he stated that it will be the official soundtrack to the movie and confirmed it will be released a week later. The album was also available on pre-order via iTunes and later on debuted at number 2 in the U.S charts. His target audience and fans alike had waited 16 years for a new record. He maximized on the opportunity. Close your eyes and imagine 4 guys in their late 40s who at their prime, had the cassette tape as the most popular mode of storing music trying to connect to fans who are using cloud storage & steaming their music trying to reaching out to us without digital. Would the results have been the same?
Through digital, these news items were picked up and amplified further on traditional media but most importantly the number one source of entertainment news and celebrity gossip conversations for this target group – Social/Entertainment news sites and blogs.


Internet Stats in the U.S

With a population of 318.9 Million people and 81% internet penetration (As of 2013), The Compton team was bang on as out of the 235, 986, 000 adults on social media in the U.S, 90% were 18-29yr olds (View More Stats). On social media, virality is not guaranteed but more often if something must go viral it is has to start in the country of origin before it spreads worldwide. For that to happen, the idea must not just be simple but also good enough to generate a conversation. All Tech and no consideration for how you engage people won’t suffice. An example of conversations that went viral would be KOT’s outrage against CNN for a negative story via the #SomeoneTellCNN hashtag and the first YouTube Video to hit a Billion Views – “Gangnam Style” by Psy (The Whole song is in Korean).




Other Contributors to the Success

Another factor that may have boosted the box office ticket sales perhaps is the timing of the release. NWA became a success in late 80s with their blunt and controversial lyrics about the struggles of young black men in the American Housing projects of Compton while addressing police brutality as well as other vices they witnessed and rose above in that environment.
The cultural connections from the movie’s side were many but aside from the main ones like Hip Hop and use of memes for the fun side, there was also the serious side.
For some reason the biopic was released when Police Brutality and racial inequality in the justice system has resurfaced in the U.S with the guilty Parties largely exposed on social media via cellphone video footage.
Through the use of unique hashtags online, Americans have been demanding justice and racial equality in treatment of young black men by their government a lot more. These hash tags have been used by online activists and have gone as far as gathering protesters & documenting a fresh wave of riots that have hit the U.S for the better half of 2015, reminiscent to the L.A riots of 1992 when NWA’s “F**k the Police” was in most circles considered to be the anthem for rioters and looters.
Perhaps the virality online stemmed from the fact that the use of memes over the years has cut across language, socioeconomic and cultural barriers among young internet users as they gave us freedom to have fun, laugh and look cool. This web app Platform enabled us to do the same and still spread awareness about the movie. At the end, even Kenyans were creating these pictures.

Other young rappers popular now and affiliated with the Dr. Dre like Eminem and Kendrick Lamar who also appeared on the movie’s soundtrack also helped connect the younger audiences to the rap Veterans and icons as they doubled as influencers on and offline.
Finally, tiny but crucial PR stories that evoked emotions were also used. Case in Point: Ice Cube’s son playing his father in the movie and Theaters hiring extra security for the screenings because of Police Fears that It may start riots again.



Straight Outta Compton has broken records by becoming the 4th highest grossing movie on a weekend in August as it raked in $24.3Million dollars’ worth of tickets sales in its first day of release. The movie is projected to hit $59Million in ticket sales after the full weekend yet the entire production budget was $28Million.
Whatever the case, effective and great digital marketing is aligning your idea to every faucet in a campaign and less about spending and trending in a silo. Did it go viral? Yes. How? The Awareness generated took the target audience to Movie Theaters. Have a look at Weekly hashtag stats for – #StraightOutta (Used for the Memes) and the movie itself – #StraightOuttaCompton almost 3 months after the buzz started.