A belated 3rd birthday post

I’ve been so busy the last few weeks that the third birthday of Movie Marketing Madness: The Blog completely blew by me. But it was indeed February 18th, 2005 that I launched this blog in earnest.

I’m not going to reflect to intensely on it, other than to say MMM continues to challenge me each time I log in and start typing. I get a kick out of doing it (except when I don’t) and feel I’m putting out good, original content that pushes the conversation forward instead of just regurgitating press releases. I’ve always felt MMM filled a specific gap between the marketing and the movie communities and that’s just gotten stronger over the years.

It’s rewarding to me on both a creative level and an ego level. Below I’ve uploaded screengrabs of my SiteMeter traffic graph showing the last three months and, something I pay even more attention to, my FeedBurner subscriber counts from the first day I signed up for that service.

SiteMeter (That big spike in January is from my MMM: Cloverfield column)


FeedBurner (Same thing)


So you can see that things continue to grow steadily here, which I’m very happy with. Even more so I’m happy with the way the writers around me push me to improve my own stuff.

I hope to keep doing this as best I can for as long as I can. Hope you all enjoy it as well.


Buffy fraying at the edges

Sometimes it’s not even fair what comic companies are doing to separate me from my money. Today’s case in point is this preview of the cover art from an upcoming issue of the Buffy: Season 8 series. I mean COME ON!


LOTD: 2/28/08

  • Congrats to Google finally doing something with Jot, which they’ve renamed and repurposed as Google Sites, though the Jot.com site is still there and asking people to sign up for reminders of its relaunch. At 16 months they beat the “three years” I had in the pool. (CT)
  • I had a really cool post all drafted on the problematic TV debut of quarterlife after its initial debut as an online series but then found Steve Bryant wrote the exact same thing. Not the first time that’s happened. (CT)
  • Yes, let’s all be shocked that Facebook is encouraging magazine publishers to use it as a platform and not build their own social networks. (CT)
  • Terry Heaton points out that the outsourcing of commenting through Favor.it does little but take away one thing some sites had to cling to when it came to attracting actual site hits. (CT)
  • An interesting look at BlueShirtNation, a social network for Best Buy employees that exists outside the corporate chain of command. (CT)

Is it really that few?

Apparently we’re just hours away from the Chicago area’s 35th measurable snowfall of the season. To commemorate this record-setting event I plan to clutch my snow shovel while crying in the garage.

They’re like an alcoholic who won’t give up no matter how many interventions are held

Warner Bros. apparently didn’t use the downtime provided by the writer’s strike to reconsider and come to their senses over the Justice League movie. It’s moving full steam ahead and is not scheduled for a 2009 release.

Hey, look! The Internet!

I’m not sure which I have a harder time dealing with: The fact that the New York Times wrote about the “Sarah Silverman/Matt Damon Jimmy Kimmel/Ben Affleck” online video thumb wrestling and did so well, adding context and shading, or the fact that Fox News wrote a total nutjob piece on Facebook that really isn’t worth the server space it’s taking up.

The latter at least isn’t surprising, but the former is, and that’s what has me dumb-founded.

They found their way home

Clapton and Winwood played together the other night in a set that included a good portion of Blind Faith’s one album as well as other good stuff. I’m a big fan of artists who enter the “Aw forget it – let’s just have fun while we can still do it” phase of their careers as these two have.

Brainstorming on improving the Oscars

oscars2008.jpgThere are a bunch of posts around Ye Olde Interwebs today on how the Oscars, either as a broadcast or as a ceremony as a whole can be improved in light of this year’s Lowest. Ratings. Ever. Yesterday I got an email from a contact at the L.A. Times asking for my thoughts on that same subject and the resulting story, including my quote as well as thoughts from other online folks is now up.

As is usual for me, my contribution is half snark and half actual constructive thinking and, also not unusual, focuses on increasing online engagement. Making that Oscars.com site into something that can serve as a hub of interactivity – including pulling posts from elsewhere on the web, facilitating viewer chat and allowing for embeddable video – is really the only way you’re going to get a new generation of viewers to pay attention to what’s going on. They might not watch the broadcast on TV, but I’d bet dollars to donuts they’d put their favorite song clip on their Facebook profile.

Anyway, check the story out and see what everyone had to say.

Movie Marketing Madness: Semi-Pro

semipro-redband-poster.jpgYou can always tell the movies that Will Ferrell and his friends come up with themselves, or at least have a significant hand in developing. First off, those movies are almost always funnier than the ones they just agree to appear in. Second, they always extend the characters they play into the real world. At least that’s the case most often with Ferrell himself. He’ll appear on talk shows or do other promotional activities in character, more to amuse himself, it seems, than because he and others think it’s a solid promotional tactic.

The latest movie Ferrell and his band of regular cast-mates appear in is Semi-Pro. Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, the owner of an American Basketball Association team in Flint, Michigan, a team he also plays for. The movie is set in the 70’s, allowing for the story to have a bit of a laugh at the decade in general and providing an excuse for Moon’s outrageous behavior, which would be considered horribly inappropriate if it took place today.

New Line has kind of gone all out for this movie, so let’s see how the studio is selling it.


semi-pro-poster.jpgThe first teaser poster for Semi-Pro didn’t so much show off Ferrell as much as it did the outrageous Afro hairdo he sports in the movie. It’s that hair that takes up much of the space of the one-sheet, and it’s obviously meant to just make people giggle at how ridiculous it is. It achieves that goal pretty well, just bringing people’s attention to the fact that there’s a new Will Ferrell movie coming out and that it’s highly likely he’ll be acting like an absolute doofus in it.

The theatrical poster did a bit more to set up the setting of the movie, the plot and also gave some real estate to two of the movie’s co-stars, Woody Harrelson and Andre 3000. Still there is Ferrell’s hair, but now we see he’s not alone in the bad hair department. Ferrell also is sporting a just awful coat, showing that he seems to be intent on dressing like a white pimp who, like many Ferrell characters, is blissfully unaware of just how ridiculous he looks. It’s not quite as singularly funny as the teaser but is alright at setting up the plot.


It’s almost impossible to describe the teaser trailer that was first released. An awful, stereotypically 70’s soundtrack played while the camera moved up Ferrells’s luxuriating body.

Oh, and he’s stark naked, save for a basketball covering his…umm…area. He introduces himself as Jackie Moon, the player and owner of the Flint Tropics. It’s pretty funny and, much like the teaser poster, is just supposed to get people laughing about Ferrell as he acts like an ass. And it succeeds.

During the trailer an 800 number appeared. I did call it and it’s Jackie Moon encouraging us to come to a Tropics game and offering a whole list of incentives for attendees. That sort of idea would be revisited in other aspects of the campaign. I was pleasantly surprised at the phone tactic, the first indication that there would be more of an experiential aspect to the campaign.

The theatrical trailer, following the lead of the second poster, showed quite a bit more of the plot. We were shown just how arrogant Jackie Moon is about his team and their skills, which would roughly be none. Instead this seems to be a team made up of misfits and losers.

Also shown in the trailer is the general plot of the movie, which is that the ABA will be shutting down soon and most of the teams shuttered. So Moon must guide his team to a winning season, something that is extraordinarily out of their reach, so that the Tropics will survive the purge.

The trailer shows a very funny movie that is pretty much in line with other Ferrell movies, which is going to be the key to turning out his core legion of fans. The movie needs to be attractive to the same people who thought Anchorman and Old School were funny and I think it achieves that goal pretty well.

New Line also wisely released a red-band, age-restricted trailer for the movie that featured a bit more swearing, more references to alcohol use and other such forbidden topics. It’s not the most outrageous red-band trailer I’ve seen, but the release of this was more about getting people buzzing about the release of the trailer than anything else, so good job.


The official website is surprisingly sparse but doesn’t do anything to honk the audience off, so there’s little to complain about aside from the lack of content.

When the site loads, the first things on the entry page are links to the trailers, including the restricted version and the TV spots. There’s also a link to enter the “Love Me Sexy” music video contest.

semiprolovemesexysingle.JPGLet’s discuss Love Me Sexy for a minute. One of the conceits of the movie is that Jackie Moon bought the tropics with the money he earned from recording that song and releasing it as a single. So what did Ferrell and the studio do? First the created a music video of clips from the movie as well as performance clips that was really quite funny.

Then they released the single as an actual single that could be bought on iTunes and through other online storefronts. While I think the idea of releasing the song was a great one I disagreed with the idea that it should be a paid download. I think it would have gotten better play and spurred more interest if it had been a free promotional download. But I guess New Line needs to make as much money as possible to settle the various Lord of the Rings-related lawsuits it’s facing. (I’m just kidding about this (kind of)).

So anyway, there was then a contest surrounding the video encouraging people to create their own Love Me Sexy videos. Available on the site were a variety of versions of the song that people could download, remix and then use in their videos. It’s a good idea, and the entrants’ videos could then be viewed via widget that people could add to their blogs or other sites, which was a nice touch.

Back to the site, once you enter the rest of the content you’ll see just how sparse it is.

The first thing you’re greeted with is “Go All the Way with the ABA” which is actually the site’s Games section. There are two games available. The first is “Funky Dunkers and the Sweet Shooters” that actually recreates a scene that was shown in the trailer. You basically try to get a tiny little Jackie Moon to jump as far as possible after rolling down a ramp, a stunt that concludes with you trying to slam dunk the ball on the other side of the court.

The other is “Spin King” which is just you trying to keep a basketball balanced and spinning on Ferrell’s finger.

Both games, though, are embeddable, with code being made available that lets you put it on your own site.

semipropic.JPG“Downloads” contains a variety of stuff, most of which is just the ordinary AIM icons, a screensaver and some Wallpapers. There’s also a ringtone you can get by pinging a certain number. Finally, the one clever offering here is a PDF download that lets you make your own Tropics basketball. The joke there is that it’s really just something you download, print out and then crumple up to throw into the nearest garbage can. The funny bit is that those are the actual instructions on the downloaded page.

The “Player Profiles” section contains some really skimpy information on the three lead players on the Tropics laid out like a trading card. It’s kind of just…lame. “Hot Shots” is the photo gallery, with a handful of stills that can be downloaded or, again, embedded by grabbing the appropriate code.

The final portion of the site is an e-commerce shop where you can buy a poster or a plush sun that will be familiar to those who have watched the trailer.

There’s also a YouTube channel that collects the trailers (except for the red-band), has some other clips and also is where you can view some of the Love Me Sexy video contest entries.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

New Line has certainly dived in with both feet when it comes to advertising for the movie. There have been an absolute ton of television spots, some really interesting online ads created (including a banner/tower combination that is part of one unit, with the ball Ferrell shoots in one part flying over to the other) and quite a bit of print ads that I’ve seen.

In addition to the spots for the movie itself, there were a couple consumer brands that Ferrell created (largely ad-libbed) co-branded commercials for. One of them is a client of my agency so I won’t mention that. The other is Old Spice, which Ferrell created an absolute handful of shorter spots for. They were really funny and did a good job of raising the awareness of the movie while giving the deodorant a fun, sassy (oh yeah, I just said that) attitude for an audience that probably associates it with their dads more than anything.

One of the spots for the movie was a 15-second version that ran during the Super Bowl. Unfortunately the first six of those seconds was spent on setup about the fact that they were advertising during the Super Bowl, leaving little time to show the movie. The spot was pretty unfunny, I thought, and a disappointment considering the huge stage the movie was now on.

semiproklum.jpgMuch like he did when promoting Talledega Nights, Ferrell decided that appearing alongside a scantily clad, gorgeous woman would not only be a good way to get in front of an audience but also make his extraordinarily doughy body all that much funnier. Good call on both counts. In this case the magazine was Sports Illustrated – specifically their Swimsuit Issue – and the woman was Heidi Klum.

Ferrell also leveraged his association with the FunnyorDie.com video site to only promote the movie there but also to launch a promotional tour. Will Ferrell’s FunnyorDie Comedy Tour Presented by Semi-Pro went around to college campuses with Ferrell and a bunch of other comedians and basically brought them the funny even as they also brought the movie’s brand to those campuses. That’s a good way to get the movie in front of people and also increase traffic to the site at the same time.


In one of my last columns someone commented that I paid too much attention to the online aspect of the campaign, giving the Website and such outsized weight in my overall evaluation. That may be a fair point, even if I would take issue with it in terms of specifics.

But the website here is a great example of just why I do that. On the one hand it’s incredibly light-weight, barely containing much content at all that’s going to keep people on it and really engage them with the movie’s brand. On the other hand it does allow you to grab embed code for a lot of the content that is there, which is a great way to get people to spread the word of the movie on their own blogs or other sites.

That site, though, is the weakest part of an otherwise solid campaign. The posters are really funny, the trailers are really funny and the cross-promotional stuff is all contextual and solid, hitting a good amount of the audience no matter where they might be. So the push gets major points for awareness.

Now it just remains to be seen if that awareness can be turned into box-office sales.

Back in the recording life again

Steve Winwood releasing a new record in late April.