Critique On Berlin International Film Fair Marketing Communication Strategy

Critique On Berlin International Film Fair Marketing Communication Strategy


The Berlin International Film Festival is an annual event held every February since 1978 some twenty seven years since it was launched in 1951. Also known as the “Berlinale”, the event showcases more than 400 films featuring the worlds or even European premiers. The event also showcases other special events such as exhibitions, panel discussions, as well as a series of parties featuring the world’s leading actors. As expected, the festival is a must-attend event in Europe that sells more than 200, 000 tickets making it the largest film audience in the world that brings together film professionals and ordinary film enthusiast alike every year (Festival Profile, 2010).

Critique of the Events Marketing Communication Strategy

Established only six years after the Second World War, with Berlin still “smouldering” from the heavy Allies shelling, the International Film Festival was a complete success at its inauguration, and since then it has managed to achieve great success in terms of the number of enthusiasts it draws and in extension, the revenue it generates (festival profile, 2010). No doubt this is a clear indicator that the event organizers’ have been all along, very keen in formulating and implementing sound marketing communication strategies. Precisely, the organizers have paid great attention to the notion of the 4-Ps marketing mix/communication strategy, courtesy of the wide range of quality international-class films, presented in various sections, large number of venues, flexible ticketing modalities, competitive promotional strategies, large numbers of acknowledged film personalities among other elements (Annual Archive, 2010).

Essentially, from a “products” standpoint, the Berlinale features over 400 films which are carefully selected and categorized into seven distinct sections by the respective directors in close coordination with the Berlinale’s established committee of film experts. These sections include (Barlinale, 2010):

Competition – featuring the world’s big screen films that can draw a large audience courtesy of their content and style (Competition, 2010).

Panorama – featuring “independent and art-house cinema”. Basically, these are films made in particular individual tastes for passionate film enthusiasts (Panorama, 2010).

Forum – the events most prestigious section that features the finest films (sharper casting with sensitive content) collected form the world’s respected filming nations (Forum, 2010).

Generation – features “generation-sensitive” films that in most cases target the young film enthusiasts (Generation, 2010).

Perspektive Deutsches Kino – features a selection of fine German films with special thematic and stylistic qualities that are aimed at getting international exposure (Perspektive Deutsches Kino, 2010).

Berlinale Shorts – features relatively short but innovatively casted films from local and international filming corporations alike (Berlinale Shorts, 2010).

Retrospective – features “hidden treasures” or films recycled from past events and that are considered to contain special themes (Retrospective, 2010).

In addition, there exists a barrage of other special categories of films depending with the theme of the Berlinale as well as the prevailing industry innovations.

From a “price” standpoint, the event organizers offer a competitive price package, tipped with a gamut of incentives making great value for attendees’ monies. Tickets are priced between seven and eleven Euros, with students paying half of that if they acquire such tickets at the box-offices. Payment is flexible as it is carried out through credit cards (online only) or cash (counter and box offices only) starting from at least three days prior to the actual event to avoid counterfeiting as well as to avoid heavy traffic at ticket counters. In extension, tickets can be conveniently accessed through online (from the events official website), central ticket counters located at the Postdamer Platz (Berlinale venue), or even through box-offices located at the various film theatres spread within the Berlin City (Tickets, 2010).

From a “placement” standpoint, the Berlinale products (films and other sponsor-merchandises) are placed at one of the conspicuous market points at the heart of one of the world’s leading cultural centres, Berlin. Moreover, the event coincides with the annual European Film Market (EFM), a trade fair that draws together famous film industry personalities, pitting producers, financiers, buyers, distributers (EFM, 2010). Alongside, the EFM, there is a week-long Berlinale Talent Campus that gathers together upcoming filmmakers drawn from all corners of the globe for a series of tutorials to impart emerging innovations as well as to nurture future talent (Berlinale Talent Campus, 2010). The Berlinale Co-production Market, a three-day forum provides an opportunity for producers, sponsors, and media personalities as well other co-production players to exchange notes regarding the best ways for film production (Berlinale Co-production Market, 2010). Together these auxiliary gatherings enjoin industry stakeholders from as many as 130 countries, working closely with the media to facilitate wider coverage as well as corporate world representatives to enhance film production and sponsorship deals. Moreover, the heavy presence of film and filmmaker stars provides the necessary publicity for the selected films as well as other films listed in the event catalogue (Annual Archive, 2010).

From a “promotion” standpoint, the Berlinale offers competitive opportunities for film industry stakeholders to benefit from their good work in so doing it attracts the best talent which in the long run enhances high attendance. Basically, there are two major awards, the Golden Bear Ward, given to the best film and the Silver Bear Award presented to any of the following; the best director, best actor, best actress, best screenplay, best film music, or even any other outstanding feat attained by any single artist. In addition, there is a barrage of other awards aimed at rewarding outstanding performance in various categories of films as well as cumulative service to the event (Awards & Juries, 2010). Moreover, the Berlinale features a gamut of popular film theatres (old, new, renovated) which allows for distinctive film viewership – varied seating capacity, screen size, as well as executive/special treatments such as red carpet and wheelchair services (Annual Archive, 2010).

Proposed Marketing Communications

Although it can be asserted that the ever growing attendance at the annual Berlinale has been occasioned by the marketing communication strategy described above, it is arguable that the event can achieve great success if new and energetic strategies are incorporated. Basically, the event organizers rely on revenue (ticket and corporate sponsorship royalties) collected during the event to facilitate all the activities (Festival Profile, 2010). As such, it is very clear that the success of the event is wholly determined by the amount of revenue collected from ticket sales, fees paid by film producers, industry stakeholders’ registration fees, as well as corporate sponsorship deals. To achieve this, the event organizers need to invest more on the four categories of “communication stimuli” (product, price, placement, and promotion) highlighted above (Marketing Communications Strategy, n.d).

Analytically, though organizers considerably brings together key industry stakeholders through the various auxiliary events during the Berlinale, it is clear that it does not pay too much attention to the film audience that pumps million of Euros into the event in form of ticket purchases and purchase of films. As such, the event organizers should consider establishing an additional auxiliary event that brings together a sufficiently inclusive number of film enthusiasts (all ages/generations) from all over the world as well as the professional industry players. Such auxiliary event should run alongside the Berlinale, for at least two days so as not to interfere with the intended number of film to be viewed (Bone, 1992). Additionally, the event organizers should step up their online promotion services by making the Berlinale official website more interactive so that the public can post pertinent questions from there, and get instant answers (Bickart, & Schindler. 2001). [See appendix (a) for a diagrammatic representation]

Moreover, the official website should also contain snippets views (trailers) of all the 400 films to be viewed during the official event (Chen & Xie, 2008).). Perhaps the event organizers should consider facilitating “virtual attendance” by making it possible for enthusiasts download some or all the 400 films on show after paying a fee slightly different from the one paid by the “physical attendants”. By so doing, it will enhance revenue collection through flexible placement while still keeping expenses at relatively low levels (Marketing Communications Strategy, n.d).

Generally, such strategy and specifically the auxiliary event would be used as a fact-finding workshop on the public expectations in terms of quality of films (casting style and content), quality of the film theatres, transport services in the city, hotels and accommodation services, culinary experiences, ticketing modalities, as well other services accorded to attendees during the event (Kotler, & Scheff, 1997). Again, this auxiliary event would accord the organizers an opportunity to establish the nationalities of the attendees and hence work on initiating “personalized” promotional drives in countries with low representation as well as those with greater representation potential. Most importantly, such auxiliary event can enhance loyalty on the part of the attendees as it can build the sense of trust characterized by guaranteed high quality of films and other recreational amenities, value for money, and most services (Masterman & Wood, 2006). Simply put, this auxiliary event will accord the Berlinale organizers, film producers, artists, and the audience (film enthusiasts and corporate entities) will play the “sender” and “responder”, hence completing the communication cycle (Marketing Communications Strategy, n.d., p.57). [See appendix (b) for a diagrammatic representation]

Furthermore, this strategy will “hold” the professional film players “at task” in terms of the quality and relevance of their performance as it will impart them with the precise information regarding the events level and quality of production as well as the audiences expectations (Kotler & Scheff, 1997). This is because the attendees need to be listened to, and consequently persuaded into paying costly flights, hotel and accommodation charges as well as theatre entry fees (Chen & Xie, 2008). Moreover, it has also been advanced that apart from the persuasion through quality viewership and other auxiliary services; the audience (film enthusiasts and corporate bodies) needs to be effectively educated so as to gain a glimpse of the hidden messages in artistic works. An audience that has got a clear glimpse of a films message would feel more obliged to incur costs in accessing the full information through live viewing from theatres (Kotler & Scheff, 1997).

No doubt this strategy would tremendously increase the event attendees and hence the total revenue collected, while keeping the costs of hosting the event at low levels as it has been established that it costs less to find new customers through the existing ones than to work with new ones altogether. Moreover, it has been reasoned that customers’ loyalty increases if there is strong existing relationships. In so doing, the Berlinale organizers can effectively establish a strong customer reputation and loyalty that would see customers shifting their attention from other international film festivals or worse still, leaving them (other global film festivals) “with nothing but undesirable customer segments to fight over” (Marketing Communications Strategy, n.d., p.15).


.Bickart, B., R. M. Schindler. 2001. Internet forums as influential sources of consumer information. Journal of. Interactive Marketing 15(3)31–40.

Annual Archive – Berlin International Film Festival, (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Award & Juries – Berlin International Film Festival, (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Berlin International Film Festival – Berlinale, (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Berlinale Shorts – Berlin International Film Festival (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Bone, P. F. 1992. Determinants of WOM communication during product consumption. In J. F. Sherry, B. Sternthal, eds. Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 19. Association for Consumer Research, Provo, UT, 579–583.

Chen, Y. & Xie, J (2008). Online Consumer Review: Word-of-Mouth as a New Element of Marketing Communication Mix. Management Science, 54 (3), 477–491.

Competition – Berlin International Film Festival (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Festival Profile – Berlin International Film Festival, (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Forum – Berlin International Film Festival (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from: – Berlin International Film Festival (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Kotler, P & Scheff, J. (1997). Standing room only: strategies for marketing the performing arts. The President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Marketing Communications Strategy. London Centre of Marketing, Module 13. Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:…/Module%2013.Marketing%20Communications%20Strategy.Notes.pdf/Masterman, G. & Wood, E.G (2006). Innovative marketing communications: strategies for the events industry. Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

Panorama – Berlin International Film Festival (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Perspektive Deutsches Kino – Berlin International Film Festival (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Programmes, – Berlin International Film Festival, (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Retrospective – Berlin International Film Festival (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:

Tickets – Berlin International Film Festival, (2010). Retrieved September 26, 2010, from:


Envisaged “Extra Auxiliary Event” Communication Channel

Source: (Marketing Communications Strategy, p.25).

Flow of Critical Information Between the Event Organizers, Film Prodcuers Professionals, and Artistes on One Side and the Audience (Film Enthusiasts and Corpoerate Entities) on the Other.

Source: (Marketing Communications Strategy, p.57).