Movie Marketing Madness: Easy A

What do you do when the reputation you have is completely out of whack with reality? Making matters more complex, what do you do when you yourself are the one who put that reputation out there and have been keeping it going, all in the name of helping a friend?

It’s exactly that kind of situation Olive (Emma Stone) finds herself in in the new movie Easy A. Olive is a kind person who wants to help one of her best friends, Todd, escape the wrath of the school bullies. Todd has recently realized he’s gay but isn’t ready to fully come out. So to convince the rest of the school he’s as straight as the day is long he convinces Olive to fake having sex with him at a party. But that then leads to Olive being branded a slut, which causes problems between her and the schools snooty moral police student. It also leads to a lucrative career as she then helps other needy guys by pretending to have sex with them as well.

How she deals with this balancing act and the impact it has on her real life are what appear to drive the movie so let’s take a look at how this unusual sort of high school sex comedy is being sold.

The Posters

The movie’s poster focuses on the fact that Stone is a hot (in both senses) commodity right now by putting her right there in the middle of the design. She’s standing against a chalkboard that has all the names she’s being called written on it, with arrows pointing to her. But the sign she’s holding represents her side of the story, explaining that the movie is told from her point of view and that the accusations being hurled against her by the chalkboard aren’t at all true.

It’s a nice enough poster. It doesn’t go very far in selling the movie as a must-see but instead is more brainy in its approach, by which I mean you actually have to read in order to get what it’s telling you. The subject matter – the epitaphs hurled at Stone’s character – comes through pretty well but the main point here is that Stone is the must see element of the movie.

The Trailers

The first trailer laid out the basic plot pretty well and in mildly compelling fashion. Stone serves as the narrator, speaking the exposition to what is assumed to be a webcam and telling the story of how she changed her reputation at school.

That journey involves agreeing to have a fake love fest with a male friend of hers who just recently admitted to her that he was gay so that he can toughen up his image around school. After doing so, though, two things happen: She becomes the target of derision among other girls who think she’s a slut and she becomes sought after by other guys who want her to do the same for their image.

The spot is alright and pretty funny, but comes off a little formulaic and is saved mostly by the massive amounts of charm Stone brings with her.


First off, I have to make note of the domain the movie’s official website has: Usually I’m not a big fan of super-clever domains, but this one is kind of amusing. Even more interesting, it doesn’t just roll to a page off the Sony Classics website, which most of these vanity URLs usually do.

Once you enter the site (there’s not much other than links to Twitter and Facebook on the splash page) the first thing you’re prompted to do is enter your name and choose your gender so that your name can be added to the bathroom wall. So when I did this I was called “easy” and “a tramp” and such. You can also put your friends name on that wall by entering their name and email address, which sends an image with similar epitaphs to them.

Also on the bathroom wall is the “Earn Your A Quiz” which tests your moral fortitude and sense of self-worth to see how much of an idiot you are.

Moving to the top of the site the first section is “Hear From the Cast” which is soundboard of audio clips from each character in the movie.

The “About the Film” page just has a one-sentence synopsis of the movie that’s mostly about the connections to The Scarlett Letter. But the fact that it then says, “Haven’t read The Scarlett Letter? Neither have we.” and then has a link to the Wikipedia page and not, say, to Amazon where people could buy the book just kind of makes me cry a little inside.

The “Gallery” has eight stills from the movie and “Downloads” has some AIM Icons and Wallpapers you can grab.

“Video” just has the Trailer and two Clips from the movie.

The “Earn Your A Quiz” is also here at the top, as is the “Send A Rumor Wall” featured. There’s also a  “Rumor Game” game, where you collect rumors as weapons to use agains protestors as you seek to collect gift cards from characters.

The movie’s Facebook page has a lot of interesting stuff. Not only are there updates with the promotional activities of the cast here but also a ton of video (why this isn’t on the official site is a mystery), a tab devoted to Emma Stone and showcasing her previous movies, an “Ask Olive” that lets you submit questions as long as you’ve already liked the page and more.

The Twitter page has a similar list of updates and the movie even has a MySpace page, causing me to check my calendar and make sure it wasn’t still 2006, that has photos and video.

The problem with all these social network extensions is that they seem to be coming from Olive – All are written in her voice and seem to be telling the story from her point of view – but then things like the movie’s trailer being there burst that illusion.

It’s always helpful to remember this simple graphic:

Either commit to the illusion or make it full-on marketing. Crossing the streams such as what’s done here just comes off as odd.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

I think I’ve seen a few online ads for the movie but there don’t appear to have been any TV spots created or other advertising done, at least none that’s come to my attention.

There were a couple promotional partners for the movie as well.

Women’s fashion retailer Wet Seal ran a sweepstakes giving people the chance to win a screening of the movie in their hometown as well as the opportunity to win one of five Sony Bloggie video cameras.

E.L.F., a cosmetics company, similarly was giving away a hometown screening of the movie as well as E.L.F. gift cards, some “Get the Look of the Movie” sets and, finally, a handful of autographed movies posters.

Media and Publicity

Aside from the buzz that came from the marketing materials, the first real publicity for the movie was the announcement it would be appearing at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. That appearance started a round of positive word of mouth for the movie, with stories like this (Los Angeles Times, 9/9/10) saying it could be Stone’s breakout performance after a couple years of playing mostly second fiddle roles.


It’s a nice campaign that comes off as being able to hold its own against other, bigger movies here at the end of the summer season. It relies heavily on Stone’s considerable charms and so, I’m guessing, makes a safe bet in terms of finding the strongest point of the film to focus on. The fact that the trailer is framed by her communicating directly to the audience and doing the narration in a nontraditional way really brings that to the forefront.

Individually each component works more or less on its own, but there’s not a lot of consistency or cross-over between those components. Sure there’s artwork that’s carried over from one platform to the next, but I’m talking about a larger brand identity that’s not really carved out using all elements. I like many of these elements on their own but they don’t, at least for me, come together and gel as a whole.

That being said I still like this campaign a lot and think it will resonate with a couple different audiences, from the high school crowd to folks who are a bit older and enjoy well-written, smart comedies of all sorts.

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.

1 comment

  1. Hey Chris,

    This might be a little late, but just wanted to note a small error in your post. In the beginning for movie synopsis section, I think you might have gotten Todd’s name mixed up with Brandon. Todd is Olive’s love interest while Brandon was her gay friend that she helped out.

    Other than that, great post and keep up the good work!

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