Fifty Shades of Grey appThis weekend was by all accounts a wild success for the 50 Shades of Grey movie. Hot on the heels of smashing ticket pre-sale records for an R rated movie (beating out heavyweights such as The Hunger Games, The Hangover: Part II, The Hangover: Part III, and Gone Girl), the movie posted the highest-grossing sales numbers for a Presidents Day holiday opener of all time and ranked among the biggest R-rated debuts in history at $81.7 million over the three-day weekend.

Obviously, the popularity of the 50 Shades brand and the movie’s steamy subject matter contributed heavily towards the opening weekend success. But for NBCUniversal, this release was also a master class in cross-channel marketing.

On July 21 of last year, to coincide with the release of the first official 50 Shades of Grey trailer, NBCUniversal launched a cross-platform app called The Internship Program. The app, designed by agency Stradella Road and backed by Kinvey’s mBaaS, was an instant success.

The Internship Program is part of an integrated campaign including innovative use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media to encourage users to share their accomplishments and engage their community with the Grey Industry experience. The app is still available for download as of today if you want to see it in action for yourself: iOS; Android; Kindle.

This sort of cross-channel marketing plan is quickly becoming an industry best practice to drum up interest in feature films in the months leading up to release. The app heavily promoted social sharing and encouraged users to get their friends and connections involved as well, no doubt contributing significantly to the movie’s opening weekend box office success:

Fifty Shades of Grey Timeline


However, crucial to NBCUniversal was ensuring they had an app that could scale quickly, gracefully, and independent of NBC’s own infrastructure. To provide some perspective, within a few days of launch, the app boasted:

  • Hundreds of thousands of users
  • More than 144,000 files associated with the app – mostly user-generated photos
  • At its peak, more than 2.7 million API calls per day

Since the app is backed by Kinvey’s mobile backend as a service, Stradella Road was able to build iOS, Android, and Kindle apps in both smartphone and tablet forms as well as a responsive Web application, which all leverage the same backend services and allowed Stradella to streamline their content distribution and deliver a consistent user experience across all device types and sizes.

Mobile-optimized backend services for user identity, data delivery, file store, CDN, push notifications, and advanced business logic aimed to enable complex internship assignment flows to engage users, create a beautiful user experience, and encourage sharing.

Perhaps most importantly, all of the app’s activity is routed through Kinvey’s BaaS instead of burdening NBCUniversal’s infrastructure with a transient app.

Download the full case study here.