N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton used a unique marketing tactic to promote the movie on Facebook, creating different trailers for different races. Speaking at South by Southwest, Universal’s EVP of digital marketing, Doug Neil, and Facebook’s entertainment head, Jim Underwood, described the ‘customised racial marketing’ they used to promote the biopic, which became a box office hit last year.

Straight Outta ComptonStraight Outta Compton used different trailers for different races on Facebook.

Neil said that during the promotion of the film, they embarked on a ‘specialised Facebook marketing effort’ which was led by Universal’s ‘multicultural team’ in conjunction with its Facebook team.

According to Business Insider, Neil said that the “general population” (non-African American, non-Hispanic), wasn’t familiar with N.W.A. and instead knew Ice Cube as an actor and Dr Dre as the face of Beats.

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This led the team to create a unique trailer marketed to that specific demographic on Facebook, which had no mention of N.W.A., but sold the movie as a story of the rise of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. For African-Americans they were given a trailer which focused on the N.W.A., as the group who “put Compton on the map”.

The Hispanic population also had their own trailer, which was a shorter spot that included flashing quotes in Spanish. Business Insider reports that since Facebook doesn't ask users to self-identify as a particular race, the campaign used what are called "affinity" groups.

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For example, to construct an "African-American affinity segment," Facebook would look at indicators such as whether someone was a member of an African American Chamber of Commerce Facebook group. Taking into account a range of indictors, Facebook was then able to define the "affinity" segment.

Neil described the marketing campaign as a success, adding that the film wasn’t a surprise hit but more of “a breakout hit.” Straight Outta Compton went on to gross over $160 million in the US last year, eventually talking more than $201 million worldwide.