Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Grossman School of Business

Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Carolyn Bonifield


Movies, trailers, Consumer Engagement, Conscious Attention


Movie trailers are some of the most viewed content in the world and film production companies spend millions of dollars every year in the hopes of capturing interest and getting people to watch their film. However, what makes a “good” movie trailer is highly debated, with factors like box office returns, the enjoyment of watching the trailer itself, telling a story from start to finish, and consumer engagement all playing a role. In this study, a random assignment experiment is run to determine whether storytelling impacts consumer engagement with a trailer. To do this, three trailers for the same student film were created, with one emphasizing story, one emphasizing character, and one emphasizing neither. It was hypothesized that the trailer emphasizing story would generate the most consumer engagement. A group of 181 undergraduate students from the University of Vermont were recruited to participate in the study and were randomly assigned to view one of the trailers and respond to a survey. Results show that the trailers failed to emphasize their differences, however the trailers did perform differently across consumer engagement measures. Interestingly, the trailer focusing on neither story nor character generated the most interest in seeing the full film on streaming services, as well as the highest likelihood of watching. This could suggest that for comedy trailers, storytelling is not as important as showcasing the best jokes, however due to the failure to emphasize trailer differences, the true reason for the higher interest is unknown. If the experiment were to be run again, trailers created from professional-length films as opposed to a 23-minute student short film would more readily emphasize differences in three, nearly two-minute long trailers. Still, the method of random assignment experimentation used in this study could be implemented in Hollywood for testing trailers, as it is far superior to focus-group testing in determining trailer effectiveness.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.