• Ben Johnson

Audience Analysis for the Movie A Prayer Before Dawn

Updated: Jan 20

Starting with an accurate idea of who your audiences are is absolutely vital to the success of independent film. It’s why we at Gruvi focus so much of our efforts on audience analysis with early testing of targeting and creative for independent movies like A Prayer Before Dawn. It’s also why we have built tools like the Audience Finder that you can use for free on Gruvi.tv.

Dan Gschaider recently joined Gruvi to head up our Audience Intelligence efforts. Dan comes from a background in web analytics. In the months that he has been at Gruvi he has developed a collaboration with the analytics tool BrandWatch. This has led to the creation of a new service that aims to identify the audience for a film, show or game prior to its the release and highlight the best ways of engaging with them.

We recently put together a demonstration for the movie ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’ for a USA and UK launch. The movie is the autobiography of Billy Moore, an English boxer incarcerated in one of Thailand’s most notorious prisons as he fights in Muay Thai tournaments to earn his freedom.

It’s been quite some time since a realistic martial arts movie released to UK and US markets. The positioning of this title is interesting as the competition is Asian fantasy martial arts, not the raw bloody elbow of this gritty autobiography. The story of the protagonist falling into chaos through poor life choices but then rising up as the hero through struggle and sheer determination is a classic archetype, albeit from the brutal angle of a Thai jail. The following is a short synopsis of the key points we discovered about the audiences for ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’.

What’s Your Key Meme?

A Meme is an element of a culture or system of behavior passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means. Things go well in campaigns if you can hitch some aspect of the marketing to a meme that is currently trending in popular culture. The maxim ‘a rising tide of lifts the all the boats’ is a useful analogy to describe the potential of a good meme match.

So we used BrandWatch to hunt for memes based on several hypotheses we had about the film. One thing that lept out of the numbers was the dialogue revolving around coming fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and controversies related to the pending fight between Conor Vs. Khabib after the bus incident in New York in March 2018. This event alone was mentioned over 10.000 times in the US in only 7 days.

This showdown between arguably the pound for pound puncher pitted against the best wrestler in the division will become the world’s most hyped martial arts fight and it will dwarf any comparable rivalry in boxing. This will put the UFC front and center of public attention in 2018/2019. Based on the analysis we felt confident that we had found our ‘Rising Tide’ opportunity for the movie. This movie has substantial legs within the fight oriented communities for martial arts such as MMA, Kickboxing, etc. MMA, Conor vs Khabib and the UFC, in general, were strong signals. Muay Thai also forms an important component of MMA tournaments. The correlation between fight fans and this ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’ is very strong.

Who Are the Martial Arts Fans?

Having locked in our focus of the MMA fight community we then investigated who are the typical audiences for fight realistic movies. Using our Audience calculator we looked at similar gritty and fighting orientated films of Indisputed, Cinderella Man, South Paw, Raging Bull, etc, we found that the segment was dominated by Males aged between 25-44, however, women made up 30 – 35% of the constituent numbers of fans. So advertising creative is going to have to have a female and male component in order to reach and attract the broadest possible audience.

What are they watching, reading and listening to and where are they conversing?

Given that MMA is largely outside of mainstream media, what are the channels that host these kinds of conversations? The answer again was readily available in Brand Watch.

Youtube journalism and VODcasting is on the rise. These new channels represent an excellent pool for potential audiences. Running the analysis though BrandWatch we found a great signal from US and UK audiences coming from shows like:

  • The Joe Rogan experience: 4.1M followers – Joe is also the top commentator to the UFC

  • The Fighter and the Kid – made up of Joe’s close friends Brian Callan and Brendan Schaub

Looking at the linked channels on Youtube also a great introduction to a community of other show hosts and podcasts. Interestingly we found that these hosts regularly interview one another so fans of each are regularly introduced to new ideas. People that follow these shows also tend to listen to:

  • Jocko Willink 187K followers

  • Jordan Peterson 1M followers

  • Sam Harris

Interestingly the hero archetype is a common theme discussed by all of these hosts and most of these presenters practice MMA or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. All have large followings of 25 – 44-year-old men in the UK and US markets. Interestingly, the story behind A Prayer Before Dawn was discussed on Joe Rogan’s podcast in 2017.

Fight shows and mini-series are also extremely popular on Youtube. Two good example of these are:

Each channel attracts Millions of views each week and updates daily with the latest MMA news. MMA World regularly tops 300K plus views within 24 hours of posting one of its daily shows.


Again ‘established’ media for fight-related promotions are not ‘A’ typical sports media. The most popular sites are:

Sherdog.com (11M page views per month) and MMAJunkie (7M page views per month).

Tying this information together

From the study we know where the audiences will be online and we also understand who the ambassadors of the subject are. This information enables us to direct our advertising towards these channels: Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Display, Mobile, etc.

How are they communicating?

By tapping into the conversation that is happening amongst the audience we can track which keywords are mostly used when communicating. This enables us to shape the communication in the ads as well as the creatives to make it relatable to each segment we identified in this large core audience set (i.e. women and men, interests, who they are following, where they are communicating, etc).

Finding the micro influencers

Tracking the number of times certain fight related keywords are used by public social media profiles we can find audiences that are highly engaged in the subject. This gives us the option of reaching out to them for promotional collaboration as well as options to target their followers with relevant promotional material tailored to how they usually engage and interact with them.

Using our Audience Intelligence Data, we can ensure extended Advertising Strategies for timely relevant trends and leverage Media Plans way in advance of the typical 2-week movie launch schedule. Furthermore, this will support any movie promotion at an early stage and help to improve your marketing strategy based on real audience data.

If you would like to know more CONTACT US