Sony Pictures – Inferno

Case study - Objective: Prompt action


For the launch of Inferno, Sony Pictures teamed up with Manning Gottlieb OMD and The Times for a campaign capitalising on readers’ dwell time with newspapers.

After a seven year absence, Dan Brown’s riddle-solving hero returned to cinema screens in October 2016. With a competitive release window and a hard-to-convert audience, Manning Gottlieb OMD had to reignite people’s interest in the franchise.

The plan was to focus on dwell time and keep the attention of the target audience – absorbing them into the world of Robert Langdon – by using newsbrands’ quality environment. With newsbrands, Manning Gottlieb OMD knew they could outline the plot of the film in full detail and align the hero’s main attribute of puzzle-solving with a key passion point for the audience.

With The Times having an 87% ABC1 readership and the highest index of all ABC1 35+ cinema goers in the quality market – as well as 48% of readers interested in doing puzzles and crosswords – it made the perfect partner for the activity.

Activity included an Inferno Code Breaker competition page that ran in the Review section of the paper. Readers were presented with a letter grid to find key words and phrases from the film and enter the competition to win a trip to Florence – one of the main locations of the film. To crack the code, they were required to use an insert that could make the letters readable.

To amplify this activity, the campaign also included a bespoke eight page supplement which featured editorial on the various locations, key themes and historical context of the film. The supplement was duplicated across The Times’ tablet edition as a downloadable section.

Key findings

  • The campaign received over 6,400 competition entries, surpassing a benchmark of 1,000
  • Reach of over 1,900,000 adults and 7% of ABC1s aged 35+
  • 25,000 page views of the content on The Times’ tablet edition 
  • An average dwell time of 20 minutes spent solving the puzzle

We were confident that, by leaning on the intellect of our readers, we would get a positive response to the competition. What we hadn’t predicted is that it would attract more entries than any competition The Times has previously run.

Tammy Willson, sales director, The Times and The Sunday Times