Movie Marketers Are Already Whipping Up Cool New iMessage Stickers for iOS 10

Disney is among first movers

Earlier this week, Apple finally made iOS 10 available for everyone to download. A big part of the launch was a lot of new features for the iMessage app. But what really got people's attention (because the internet is less about functionality than about kitschy features) was that you can now add stickers to your iMessage conversations. 

Stickers, in case you're not 15 years old, are little graphics you can append to pictures you're sending to friends via iMessage. They're similar to the stickers you can now add to pictures on Twitter and in Snapchat filters, and are part of the trend of media personalization on social networks and messaging apps, meant to let people find new and interesting ways to express themselves by customizing their photos. 

(An aside: This is in no way new behavior. Anyone who had a Trapper Keeper back in the day and decked it out with Metallica stickers, or Captain America decals, or other elements of self-expression, knows what I'm talking about. For that matter, so does anyone who put a "Packers Suck" bumper sticker on the back of their 1992 Chevy Cavalier. Not that I know anything about any of those examples.)

Some of the first companies to offer these iMessage stickers are, of course, movie and entertainment studios. Disney, in particular, jumped in big time with packs for Star Wars and Finding Dory, among others. And Madman Films is offering a pack featuring characters from its recent indie hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which is so random and awesome it's kind of hard to deal with.

Those are all movies that have come and gone from theaters, though, with the exception of Star Wars, which will have new movies coming out each year until the sun goes nova on us. What's missing is anything new and urgent—basically, anything that's part of a new or upcoming movie's current marketing cycle. 

It's easy to envision how stickers could fit into a movie marketing campaign because it's basically the same way Snapchat filters do now. Just looking at the next couple of weeks worth of releases, there are a number of movies that could successfully execute stickers. 

The Magnificent Seven could offer cartoonish versions of the characters, along with some of their dry witticisms. Storks is kind of a no-brainer, with lots of potential to play up the humor of the movie with little figures. Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children could offer stickers for each peculiar child that would be a great fit for allowing people to express themselves through this format.

The trick with this is that sticker packs cost money, while Snapchat filters and Twitter stickers are free to the user. So, the studio or company producing them has to make them attractive enough to warrant $1.99 from the audience, who are basically being asked to pay for the privilege of helping to market the movie. That's a big ask.

It will be interesting to see if any studios jump on this not just to offer evergreen material but something more fresh and current. The potential is there to activate an audience that's increasingly comfortable using media add-ons to express themselves as part of their social personality, and do so in the service of a movie that's just about to hit theaters.