Shortlisted 2021

Media and Entertainment


Sony Pictures Entertainment

Entered by:


Bad Boys for Life - Re-energising the franchise

The Challenge

Sony Pictures Releasing International tasked OMD EMEA with raising unaided awareness across 28 different markets to drive significant box office revenue for the business with the release of Bad Boys for Life.  The challenge was made even tougher owing to the franchise being at real risk of fatigue, 17 years after the second film came out in cinemas.  We needed to demonstrate that we were engaging both the nostalgic hardcore fans of the series as well as newer fans who would have an interest in the all-star cast and action comedy genre of the title.  As well as this, the film was releasing within a demanding and cluttered window with several, threatening competitor titles including the likes of Star Wars, 1917 and Birds of Prey. The team had to push strategic thinking to new levels to ensure they would be directing consumers to buy tickets to Bad Boys for Life over the others.

The Creative Solution

“The boys are back for one last ride” and OMD needed to ensure that fans of the film, old and new, were going to join the lead actors, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, on that journey. Our objective was to convince both our primary and growth audiences to choose to watch Bad Boys for Life over several competitors releasing in the same window.  Our primary audience consisted of general action movie enthusiasts, who were fans of the franchise and cast, whereas our growth audience was made up of new Will Smith fans, including his Gen Z social followers and female fans as well as gamers.  Our target for this campaign as a whole was to increase awareness of the new instalment of the franchise across multiple markets using the strengths of the film itself including prioritising the fun element to the film, using the well-known brand and cast to attract moviegoers and really tailoring our media around the bond and camaraderie between the two main characters.

We had to do this over a number of bursts of media spanning a total of 6 months and included two trailer launches, two smaller focussed bursts, detailing some of the behind-the-scenes action sequences and comedic undertones of the whole production that were used to help with awareness in certain markets and across certain audiences and then finally, the biggest one, the Theatrical release campaign.

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

While the Bad Boys for Life audience was understood to be Male 15+, we knew looking at research and interest signals of the audience that we would need to target and communicate with the new younger fans and the hardcore fans differently. Looking at the size of both audiences, we determined that converting the younger Gen Z audience to purchase tickets presented a growth opportunity that would unlock box office potential.

It was evident from the research, that for the older legacy fans, positive sentiment was driven by nostalgia, while new fan interest was driven by affinity towards similar action films and the all-star cast. We then analysed the interests and behaviours of similar action comedy movie fans and concluded that they were gaming and staying connected through social media more than the average population.

After looking at the contextual signals of the release and the psychographics of our audience segments, it was clear we needed a strategy to re-energize the legacy Bad Boys franchise fans through nostalgic moments, as well as engage the new Gen Z audience by aligning activations with their interests in action, gaming, the cast, and social media.

Consequently, we decided to partner with numerous partners including TikTok, Twitch and YouTube, to name a few, in order to reach these two very different but equally as important audiences.  We also wanted to take full advantage of the extremely current soundtrack that was produced by DJ Khaled specifically for the film. In order to do this, we also partnered with Vevo so that we could engage those in the younger audience who were fans of artists that featured such as the Black Eyed Peas and J Balvin.

The Result

From our media, we managed to deliver a total of nearly 400 million impressions and 191 million views.

The film has received a number of incredibly positive reviews and grossed a total of over $419m at the box office, making it the highest grossing film of 2020 and thrashing Sonic The Hedgehog in second place by over $112 million.

It also became the highest-grossing instalment of the series after just 17 days in cinemas and stayed at the number 1 spot for a total of three weeks. All of which is a true testament to the water-tight collaboration between Sony Pictures Entertainment and OMD.