Q&A with Universal Pictures' Doug Neil

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Doug Neil, SVP of digital marketing at Universal Pictures
Doug Neil, SVP of digital marketing at Universal Pictures

Doug Neil, SVP of digital marketing at Universal Pictures, explains his goals for the year, including a push into social

Q: How did you become the digital go-to guy at Universal Pictures marketing?

A: Prior to Universal, I worked for AOL, leading its entertainment strategy division. I got to meet many colleagues at the studios. I became the digital guy at Universal when a position opened in 2006.

Q: What are the digital direct goals you have set for this year?

A: One of our big focuses is taking advantage of social media to have the one-on-one interaction with individuals who have identified themselves as fans of our upcoming films. We look for ways to build that connection through such outlets as Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.

Q: What are some challenges in determining your digital marketing strategies?

A: One big challenge is reaching and connecting with all the people that would be interested in our films. It's a very fragmented marketplace. You do rely on social media and word-of-mouth to drive interest. However, you still need to be in the right connection point to ignite and start that conversation.

Q: What's a recent favorite digital undertaking?

A: We encouraged fans of Charlie St. Cloud, which was our movie starring Zac Efron, to become a fan of the film on Facebook and then to take action to promote the film on their own social network accounts. Participants could be eligible to have Efron come to their hometown for a private screening with their friends. We saw thousands of engagements and a lot of conversation generated by the campaign.

Q: What's your direct strategy in using mobile barcodes?

We used 2D barcodes as part of our Repo Man marketing campaign on the film's posters and a lot of our creative materials — postings, one-sheet art and websites. We included barcodes, which unlocked information about the film or enabled consumers to watch videos or get additional information about the movie. It played thematically with what the film was about – organ repossession and artificial organs that were identified by barcodes.

Q: What's next for Universal Pictures in digital?

A: Its use has certainly been increasing. I think we're going to see many more initiatives funneled through text messaging and e-mails that are designed for mobile content.

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