Oddball is Australia’s 2015 quirky comedy about a mischievous dog trained to protect a seaside town’s penguin sanctuary from fox attacks, while attempting to reunite his family and the town. Oddball is a love letter to Australia’s box office smash ‘Red Dog’ (2011) which is centred around a dog uniting the community of a rural town while searching for his long lost owner.
Oddball is a unique narrative with a unique form of marketing and distribution. Unlike most films, particularly blockbusters, Oddball employed different marketing tools to attract audiences. Rather than having a abundant amount of film trailers, television adverts, and posters plastered through Australia, Oddball used the unique, yet powerful marketing technique of ‘word of mouth’. The advertising of this independently made Australian film relies highly on positive word of mouth.
Word of Mouth form of marketing has always worked for small budget films in the past, such as Pink Flamingos (1972), and Paranormal Activity (2009). Rather than using positive word of mouth like Oddball, these highly popular films used word of mouth of outrage of audiences, in attracting viewers. Pink Flamingos, even to this day, is labelled as ‘one of the most vile, stupid, and repulsive films ever made’, while Paranormal Activity employed the ‘scariest film ever made’ angle to attract audiences. This form of word of mouth was almost like a contest for the audience, making people want to see these films to see if they could handle the most repulsive film or scariest film ever made.
Oddball uses positive word of mouth, even that of critics to draw in an audience, while the minimal visual advertising of the film is that of a innocent, family loving white dog, with a penguin placed on its head. This image accompanies the positive word of mouth technique, with an image of wholesome, whimsical, and family friendly fun.
Even to have a small budget, the marketing of this film is strange as Oddball is the first film to be produced by WTFN, a television distribution company, which distributes Channel 10’s highly popular Bondi Vet.
Thus far, this marketing technique has be a success for the film as within a week at the box office, it had made $2,000,000. It was the second highest film at the box office, overtaking blockbusters, such as the highly produced sequel in the Maze Runner franchise. The screen average for Oddball was at $7,069.
These results prove that minimal marketing and distribution can make a low budget film successful.