Preawareness: Also pre-awareness. Movie-business jargon for an audience’s sense of comfortable familiarity with a concept, a brand, or a series, thus all but guaranteeing box-office success.
From a 2010 post on the screenwriting blog Go into the Story:
Why the fixation with pre-awareness titles / pre-branded brands?
* Because consumers will already know a preexisting brand, it makes the studio’s job easier to get consumers’ attention when marketing the movie
* If preexisting title is a nostalgia brand for Gen X (e.g., Transformers) or Baby Boomers (e.g, Battleship), that widens the target audience beyond adolescent and young adult males
* Automatic merchandising tie-in to preexisting brand offers expanded revenue stream
In other words, a pre-awareness title can feel more like a sure thing than an untested original screenplay.
Preawareness is “the enemy of originality,” writes film producer Lynda Obst in her 2013 book, Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business, and films without preawareness “are the endangered species of the movie business.”
Christopher Nolan’s Inception, released by Warner Bros. [in 2010], based on an original script by Nolan, is one such film that many in the industry doubted would open at the time, as it had no famous title or comic-book hero to hang its hat on. But it opened liked gangbusters due to a brilliant marketing campaign. This is why people like Warner Bros. president of worldwide marketing Sue Kroll are the new Hollywood stars.
“[T]here is good news for Moses and Noah fans,” wrote a New York Times book reviewer in her brief review of Obst’s book: “Hollywood has recently realized that Bible stories have preawareness.”
Watch Obst tell a story about how preawareness works (sorry, video wouldn’t embed).
The earliest citations I found for this marketing sense of “pre-awareness” are from 2009. This one is from a November 17, 2009, post on the Adaddinsane blog, which is written by an anonymous web developer and screenwriter in London:
“Pre-awareness” is the movie industry buzzword it’s fashionable for writers to hate. It’s the word that gives us endless sequels, remakes (“re-imaginings”) and adaptations, and an apparent fear of original ideas.
There is an ordinary word that covers the concept: familiarity.
Pre-awareness is also invoked in other types of marketing, as in a 2013 Marketo campaign for “The Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation”:
Launching a pre-awareness campaign would help us build buzz around the release of our guide as well as generate new leads prior to the launch.
Other senses of “pre-awareness” have been around for nearly a century. Google Books led me to a 1917 philosophy book, Mind by Basil Blackwell, that includes several citations. Here’s one:
Thus on lifting a cup of coffee to our lips we have pre-awareness of the coming taste before the taste-receptors are stimulated.
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