Everything Is Illuminated – Marketing Recap

Elijah Wood and the rest of the Lord of the Rings cast will forever live with the shadow of that trilogy. Every film review, every feature story, every taudry headline of them being caught with a dwarf and a syphillis-ridden hooker at a cock fight will mention that they were once hobbits.

Wood seems to be doing what he can, though, to break out of the type-casting that become such an issue after being in a hugely successful series of movies. His latest is Everything Is Illuminated, a quirky road-trip movie about one man searching for a bit of his families past.

The Poster

This is one groovy poster. Wood’s head is placed in front of a bed of flowers, with thick-rimmed glasses covering closed eyes set against a idyllic blue sky. It sets up the off-beat nature of the flick pretty well, even a bit too well in my opinion. What it does mostly is sell Wood, since Warner Bros. is probably hoping some of his fans from Lord of the Rings will follow him over into this release.

The Trailer

It’s hard to do quirky well, especially in the shorted time a trailer allows. This one comes close to pulling it off but a plot that relies on as much character development as this one does simply can’t be condensed into two or three minutes. Instead it relies mostly on off-beat characters and a few interesting story twists. Ultimately it’s a little disappointing, but overall it’s better than most.

The Website

At first this seemed like a pretty ordinary website. It doesn’t seem to have anything interesting, just the usual “Trailer”, “Download”, “Gallery” and “Cast & Crew” bios. But the “About” section is very robust, with quite a bit of information on the movie and it’s production. It also covers the transition the story took from book to movie form.

What I really liked were the microsites that come off of the main one. The first one is Who Is Augustine? and, while not containing much information is an interesting viral site. There are links from it not only to the movie’s official site but to the Ukranian embassy and a repository of Jewish literature. The second is The Project Museum, which tells about a museum of cultural artifacts located beneath a subway platform in New York. I can’t quite figure out whether this is based on an urban legend or some completely fictional construct of the movie but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Overall

The campaign is very nicely put together but can’t quite overcome the difficulties inherent in marketing a quirky character-driven movie. There’s too much that’s deliberately screwball to be fully intellectual but too much intellect to be a broad comedy. While I applaud the effort the marketing team took to make this movie appealing to a large audience I just feel it was watered down a bit much for my tastes. I still want to see the movie but am a little disappointed by the trailer, especially.

By Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.