Remember that Straight Outta Compton trailer recut for mostly white Oscar voters? It turns out that the real Straight Outta Compton marketing campaign wasn’t as far off from that as we thought. There were apparently different Facebook trailers of the movie for people of different races.
According to Business Insider, Universal and Facebook executives at SXSW said that part of the reason why this movie became a crossover hit was because trailers were tailored based on what people of particular racial groups would know about N.W.A. They thought that black audiences had “baseline familiarity” with the group, and so their trailer opened with N.W.A.’s iconic words. For Hispanic audiences, the trailer included quotes in Spanish. For everybody else, the movie trailer marketed Straight Outta Compton as Ice Cube and Dr. Dre’s origin story. As Universal’s Doug Neil put it:
The “general population” (non-African American, non-Hispanic) wasn’t familiar with N.W.A., or with the musical catalog of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, according to Neil. They connected to Ice Cube as an actor and Dr. Dre as the face of Beats, he said. The trailer marketed to them on Facebook had no mention of N.W.A., but sold the movie as a story of the rise of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre.
If doing this did in fact net Straight Outta Compton a lot of money, then they should’ve gone the “Paul Giamatti as savior” route with the Oscar campaign.
UPDATE: A Facebook spokesperson sent us a statement saying that they don’t let users self-identify according to their race, and that they target ads based on on other information:
“Facebook doesn’t let users identify based on race. Instead, the company looks for identifiers, starting with simple ones like language preference and onward to which pages you’ve liked and other more specific actions on the social network. That said, the company is only able to target ads based on what the user has shown an interest in seeing, which is not necessarily indicative of that person’s race.”
(Via Business Insider)