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How ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ attracted over 21 million online viewers

How ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ attracted over 21 million online viewers

Best practice from digital media agency, Tug.


Slumdog Millionaire has been one of the biggest box office earners of the year with earnings to date of over $243M. This is a record for a film that was made by film company Pathé  with a small budget of just $15M.

So, how did a British film produced by Danny Boyle with a modest budget become such a huge hit? How was the film, depicting life in the slums of Mumbai, so well marketed that everyone was talking about it long before it went on general release?


As they developed their marketing launch plan Pathé focused on digital marketing as an effective and highly accountable route to build awareness of the film with the public.

They appointed digital media agency Tug to work with them to raise awareness of the film in the UK while also targeting niche audiences such as Indian movie goers and Danny Boyle enthusiasts.

To support their above the line advertising Pathé developed a suite of online marketing collateral. These included a viral application, a widget and a trailer focused microsite for Tug to work with.

The challenge

January, being the month when the majority of new films are released,  is the busiest and most competitive month of the year for the film industry.

Slumdog Millionaire was scheduled for release on January 9, 2009 so Tug was challenged to, gain an online share of voice cost effectively while engaging the audience and driving traffic to the Slumdog online collateral.

Strategy and Implementation

Tug developed a Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign on the major UK search engines targeting searchers  interested in: Pathé , Bollywood, Danny Boyle, Slumdog, Indie movies and the like.

Tug launched targeted banners across the Google Content network to build awareness of the film on a cost per click model. Eye balls were free.

Tug worked with Google to create click to play trailer ads. Pathé only paid when the surfer clicked through to the microsite. Banner and even trailer views were free!

Tug tested and improved ad copy weekly,  and included “Bafta award” and “box office hit” messaging when the movie met these milestones.

A tactical search engine optimisation (SEO) programme was also put in place concentrating on the film name to ensure top positioning for the difficult to index, flash microsite.


The PPC campaign drove more than 75,000 new visitors to

Over 73,000  movie goers engaged with and viewed the video trailer and more than 21 million ad impressions were served and viewed by targeted audiences– for free. (on a blind network at £5 CPM that would have cost over £100K)

These results cost £13,000 in media spend over a 5 week burst.

And the overall result?

Slumdog Millionaire smashed UK box office records and has won 7 Bafta awards and eight Oscars.

Watch the original trailer for 'Slumdog Millionaire' below.


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