Here’s why there’s little the government can do about jobs

The current debt-ceiling drama is in many respects about the role of the government in the nation’s economy and, subsequently, about job creation. But this story shows quite starkly why that’s kind of a ridiculous conversation to have since it’s companies and corporations that hire people, something they’re not all the eager to do since they’re making money quite nicely elsewhere thank you very much. The opening graf states this clearly:

The sluggish pace of hiring may be hobbling the U.S. economy, but it’s not been holding back big U.S. companies’ profits thanks to growth overseas and cost controls at home. And that’s bad news for the more than 14 million Americans without jobs.

So yeah, why hire people when overseas sales and production costs are keeping expenses down and revenues up? There’s nothing the government can do about this – it’s the role of private corporations. The only thing the government can do is impose regulations that would make doing business in some manner overseas more costly but that’s not likely to happen.

Movie Marketing Madness: The Future

The uncertainty with which some people view the future varies from one individual to the next. Some individuals look at the calendar ahead and see nothing but opportunities for good stuff, for them to take huge steps forward. Others do so and are filled with trepidation. Today was bad enough and yesterday was terrible so they’re not really excited about what might be down the road. In extreme situations this kind of outlook can actually cause a person to almost freeze up and not make any decisions about what to do because they can’t conceive of tomorrow being anything but negative.

In other cases people are just so filled with themselves in the moment that they can’t fathom moving beyond each particular instant. Such are the characters in The Future. As they contemplate adopting a cat from a shelter Sophie (Miranda July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) are forced to ponder what lies beyond today because the cat represents responsibility and having to make decisions outside themselves, a prospect that’s never really occurred to them before.

The Posters

The poster for the film is quirky and simple, much like the movie itself will likely be. It’s just an image of July’s head turned upside down with the title super-imposed over it. There’s the credit block, a choice quote from an early review and the enticement that it comes from the director of Me and You and Everyone We Know but that’s about it.

The Trailers

We start off in the trailer with some voiceover from a cat that talks about some people who said they would come back for it. We then cut to them arriving at the shelter, ready to adopt it under the assumption that it’s only going to live a few months, but they’re told that the cat could live another five years. This sets both Sophie and Jason on a spiral of identity issues since neither of them apparently considered the future at all and so they evaluate their lives. That includes Sophie starting her much-delayed performance art project. We occasionally cut back to the cat but mostly this is about the issues being confronted and decisions being made by the two humans, with that one month cat pickup deadline presumably the endpoint of this journey.

It’s odd, a tad indulgent and very unique, meaning it should appeal almost immediately to fans of July’s earlier movie and those who appreciate off-kilter characters in their movies in general.


The movie’s official website opens with some sort of ambient noise playing as critic’s quotes appear over footage of the cat in her shelter cage.

The “Your Future” section is a spinning wheel where you can get a fortune told once every other week or so, which is kind of a cool detail. After that there’s a “Blog” written by July that is all sorts of pretentious, with lots of pseudo-philosophy, artsy photos and more.

“Trailer” is fairly self-explanatory, as is the “Gallery,” which has five photos from the film as well as the poster. “Story” has a very short write-up of the movie’s plot and “Cast” has short write-ups of the actors in the film.

You can find out if the movie is playing near you in the “Showtimes” section and then read some early coverage and reviews of it in the “News” area.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing here that I’ve come across.

Media and Publicity

The movie first got some publicity when it was announced as a late addition to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. There July was interviewed (Filmmaker Magazine, 1/23/11) and otherwise beat the drums for the movie, which was her second at the festival in recent years. The movie was one of a few pegged as being part of a recent wave of films (Filmmaker, 1/23/11) about aimless 20-somethings having identity crises. And it was only shortly after Sundance wound-down that the title was picked up for distribution (Hollywood Reporter, 1/28/11) by Roadside Attractions. It would also later appear at the Los Angeles Film Festival (Los Angeles Times, 5/3/11).

The launch of the movie’s official website was reviewed by IndieWire, who talked to July about what her intentions for the site was and what her overall comfort (or discomfort) level with actual “marketing” was.

Later on there was press that examined the movie-going public’s perceptions of July (New York Times, 7/14/11), perceptions that range from her being seen as a unique voice of this generations to being someone who’s so full of herself and her own sense of whimsy that she becomes so annoying there are entire blogs and sites devoted to mocking her.


It’s not a bad campaign and I even like some aspects of it. Others, though, are so full of themselves that it’s hard to feel any attachment to the movie at all and I kind of want to smack the movie’s smug face. That might seem like an extreme reaction – and that’s actually a good thing that I felt this strongly since that’s what art is supposed to produce in the audience. But it’s clear that this campaign isn’t trying to win any new converts and will instead likely just polarize people about July in general and The Future specifically. The campaign is clearly meant toward festival goers and the people who love them and will almost certainly have almost no appeal outside that crowd.


  • 08/03/11 – Wired has a great interview with July about the movie and its themes and story.

Movie Marketing Madness: The Smurfs

There’s a whole tradition of Saturday morning cartoons that kids today just aren’t familiar with. Back in the 80’s my younger brother and I would wake around 6AM (earlier than that and the news was still one) and bounce between CBS, NBC and ABC at various times to catch the best animated shows of the era. That included, at any given time, “Snorks,” “Thundar the Barbarian,” “Pac-Man,” “The Real Ghostbusters” and countless others. If available breakfast would be cold pizza from the night before and more than likely we would be arranging our Star Wars, G.I. Joe or Transformers figures while enjoying the best (a loose description) commercial broadcasting had to offer between 6AM and 10AM.

But the rise of cable channels and the increased insistence that all children’s programming be educational soon pushed these fun, though certainly commercial, programs off the air.

One of the stalwarts was certainly “Smurfs” and the characters from that series and the preceding comic strip have now graduated to the big screen with the appropriately titled The Smurfs. The story is pretty familiar while also catering to the latest trends in semi-animated kid’s fare. While trying to escape from Gargamel (Hank Azaria), a band of Smurfs falls through a portal that dumps them into present day New York City. There they latch on to two humans (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Hays) who help to hide them while the three-apple-high visitors try to find a way back home.

The Posters

The first poster is every bit as simple as the first trailer. It just has Papa Smurf, Smurfette and the other Smurf looking away from the camera and over the cityscape of New York with the copy “Where the Smurf are we?” attempting to be clever by inserting “Smurf” in place of another word.

The next poster wasn’t a whole lot different, showing a bunch of Smurfs caught in a New York subway door and looking back at the camera. The fact that their little Smurf behinds are the main design component here should let most people know which direction the humor in the movie is coming from.

A series of character-specific one-sheets, each featuring one of the main cast of Smurfs, was released that had some sort of saying that doubled as a character description. Many of these were also later repurposed for outdoor and other advertising.

The Trailers

The first teaser trailer showed almost nothing. After an introduction in the Yahoo premiere from co-star Harris, the spot starts off with narration about something big coming to our world that’s accompanied by shots of world landmarks such as the Sphinx, The Eiffel Tower and Mount Rushmore all of a sudden turning blue. Then we cut to Times Square where three little Smurf heads pop up and just as suddenly duck back down from the screen. Finally we see the three of them hanging on for dear life to the roof-top ad on top of a cab, with the ad showing the movie’s web address. It’s an extreme teaser so it’s not like much was expected and it delivers along those expectations.

The first full length trailer doesn’t go much into the plot (whatever there might be of it, mostly just telling us that the Smurfs’ arrival is heralded by lots of mysterious lights over New York City. We’re quickly introduced to the humans they latch on to. We get a couple shots of Gargamel that show Azaria might be the best thing in the movie but mostly this one is about making a bunch of jokes using the word “smurf” in place of various bodily functions. Not much to go on here but anyone who really couldn’t get enough of the Chipmunks movies will likely find this right up their alley.

The next theatrical length trailer gives the audience a bit more information. We start out in the Smurfs’ village and see their idyllic lives which are interrupted by the presence of Gargamel, who’s finally found what he’s been searching for. All the Smurfs scatter, with one group falling through some sort of rift and winding up in our world. There they cause all sorts of problems in the lives of the humans who find them but still must continue to elude their nemesis who has followed them through to this dimension as well.

In addition to a bit more about the actual story (such as it is) this trailer also shows off how “hip” and self-aware the movie is, with jokes – primarily from Harris – about how they can’t just use “smurf” as a replacement for all sorts of words or how annoying their little song is. It’s not a terrible trailer but you definitely get a sense of the movie’s attitude so your perception of it will be based on your tolerance for this stuff.


The movie’s official website opens by asking if you’d like to watch the trailer again. There are also promotions there for the Smurf Dance Party video game, the Smurf Village iPhone/iPad app and other Sony DVDs. There’s also a link to BeSmurfed, which lets you dress up a Smurf of your choice and then attach a message to the image that you can send to a friend.

Once you Enter the Site the navigation there is actually quite fun. You can access most things from the menu at the top but you can also control a Smurf and have him run or walk to the left or right to hit all those content areas as well.

First up is “Videos” which has both all three Trailers to watch and there are a whopping nine options to choose from in the “Games” section that range from regular games to quizzes that will test your Smurf knowledge and help get you informed.

“About” just has a synopsis to catch up on the plot. Then you can see what actors voice what characters in the “Cast and Crew” section but not view anything about them. Nine stills from the movie can be found in the “Gallery” and “Downloads” has Wallpapers, a Twitter Skin, a Soundboard of audio clips from the movie and Profile Pics that are really just the movie’s posters all collected.

The Facebook page for the film invites you to Like it in order to access the same sort of stuff you can find on the official site and in addition has a Wall full of publicity and marketing updates as well as various media assets. Twitter is similar with the updates.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV advertising began in earnest in mid-May with a spot that ran during the penultimate episode of the current “American Idol” season and which was, obviously, heavy on the singing components of the movie’s story. It also showed there’s a Katy Perry “inside” joke that makes me want to smack someone around quite a bit.

A couple different approaches were taken with the outdoor advertising. On the one hand there were pretty traditional ads that showed one or more of the Smurfy characters. On the other there were bus-side and other ads that looked like warning signs, letting people know the Smurfs were on the loose and not to be distracted by their cuteness, a line that’s stolen from the trailers.

One of the first bit of hype-building promotions was announced way back in December of 2008. Cosmetics company Too Faced launched a line of Smurfette-branded style products for women  to enjoy either straight-faced or in ironic fashion.

Macy’s was also an early promotional partner, announcing that Smurfs would be a big part of their 2010 Thanksgiving Day Parade and that stores would feature exclusive merchandise as well as signage for the movie.

Media and Publicity

Aside from a few “leaked” design mock-ups of the characters that had appeared now and again the first major volley in the publicity campaign was a story in USA Today (6/16/10) that gave readers an overview of what the movie’s story would be, what situations the characters would find themselves in and when the first teaser trailer could be expected. That story also included the first official publicity still from the movie, giving people their first sanctioned look at the Smurfs as they would look in the movie as well as making it clear the story took place in modern day New York City. Of course the secondary explosions around this story on various movie blogs likely dwarfed the scale of the original media hit so this definitely got people talking in advance of that trailer.

The tie-in toys and other products for the movie were also among those debuting or otherwise making a big show at the annual Toy Fair convention (Hollywood Reporter, 2/10/11).

As release neared the studio tried to get the fans involved in the marketing a bit by declaring June 25th Global Smurfs Day (New York Times, 6/12/11) and encouraging those fans to gather in cities across the country dressed as Smurfs in an effort to set a world record for such an activity.

Smurfette even took on the role of high fashion model in a spread for Harper’s Bazaar (June, 2011). And the Smurfs became the focal point of a new campaign from New York’s tourism company, which announced “Smurfs Week” with activities at retailers and other locations throughout the city.


What strikes me most about this campaign is that it’s almost 100% geared toward kids and not at all toward people of my generation who grew up with the cartoon. Unless you count by proxy as the studio seeks to make sure parents know that this movie is basically the same as Alvin & The Chipmunks from a few years ago and so, depending on your parenting decisions, suitable for the little ones.

Other than that it works so hard to be inoffensive that it winds up being just the opposite, with the only redeeming factor apparently being Azaria’s scene-chewing performance as Gargamel. There’s little here for anyone above the age of 12 to latch on to or find interesting aside from that, not even from a morbid curiosity perspective. It’s almost identical to not only Alvin but all the other recent movies featuring humans interacting with computer-animated cartoon characters and so holds little interest to anyone who knows any better.


  • 07/28/11 – NBC Universal signed on for lots of Smurfs-related promotions, inserting characters into shows on NBC and the variety of cable networks it owns and running other Smurfy stuff.
  • 07/29/11 – Apparently the movie is also the latest McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-in.
  • 07/29/11 – Christopher Campbell at Spout looks at the rampant product placement in the movie, including for what looks to be the biggest shill for New York itself.

Movie Marketing Madness: The Myth of the American Sleepover

If you read stories in Time and Newsweek you’re probably convinced that the notion of teenagers having crushes and summer romances is dead and buried, replaced by hook-ups and a complete deconstruction of romance and all the butterfly-laden stomachs and dreamy eyes that used to come with it. The consequences of a culture saturated by Britney Spears and her ilk are, according to much of the press coverage of teenage lifestyles, that first love is a thing of the past.

But the new movie The Myth of the American Sleepover appears to make the case that this is not so much the case. The movie stars a cast of first-time actors and takes place in a small Texas town where a group of teenagers are enjoying their summer. No wacky hijinks or high-concept plots are in store for them, though. Instead the story is about how these budding adults begin to address their feelings toward the opposite sex. And far from a “everyone jumps into bed with everyone else” story it’s more about furtive glances, blushing cheeks and tentative hands coming together.

All that means a lot of the story elements that are usually pulled out for campaigns simply aren’t there. It also means the filmmakers are going to have a harder time appealing to teens than usual because this movie does not appear to be going for “hip,” edgy” or any derivation thereof. So let’s dive in.

The Posters

There’s not much to the movie’s one poster but it’s still much better than many other minimalist one-sheets that are released. The entire cast is presented in animated form (despite it not being an animated movie) standing against a garage that could be found in any American suburb. The large number of people make it clear this is an ensemble film and it’s clearly about young people. Some helpful quotes from early, festival-based reviews along with the symbols for those film festivals it’s appeared at are shown at the top.

The Trailers

The first trailer (later more officially released), released in advance of the movie’s debut at SXSW 2010, doesn’t actually introduce to any of the characters by name. But it does introduce us to a collection of characters in suburban America who are, seemingly, either in or about to leave high school and who are struggling with the romantic portions of their lives. So we get lots of shots of teens furtively touching and kissing each other, very much seeming to experiment with the feelings they have in unsure ways. So it comes off as very low-key and charming and it’s clear the movie is full of naturalistic performances from a cast of unknowns, which makes it easy for the audience to project their own experiences on to them and so resonates maybe just a tad more deeply than it otherwise would have.


There are kind of two websites for the movie, though neither is that much more fully stocked than the other.

One, which we’ll call the official website for reasons of discussion, has been around for a while and has the trailer, some aggregation of press quotes and links round-ups of the movie’s festival appearances.

The other, an IFC-official site, has some information on the cast and story synopsis along with a Photo Gallery. Many of the same press quotes are here as well, though sans the links the official site has.

There is a Facebook page for the movie that’s surprisingly robust, a testament to how the filmmakers are trying to get out there and hustle. And the director, David Robert Mitchell, has been beating the Twitter drums in support of the movie.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’ve seen, though it’s like I was expecting a whole heck of a lot from such a small and non-commercial movie like this.

Media and Publicity

The film certainly put in its time on the festival circuit, appearing at both SXSW 2010 and Cannes 2010, two high-profile debuts that garnered the movie a good amount of positive buzz. Those appearances would later win it a distribution deal from IFC, largely because of that buzz, right around the time it was screening as part of the Chicago International Film Festival.

After that it was up to the director to continue selling the movie to the press as he does in this interview (Filmmaker, August 2011) where he talks about the origins of the story and how he sought to tap into something more real about the teenage experience than what’s usually presented on film.


At the outset I mentioned that, lacking many of the “edgy” hooks of most teen-focused movies this film was going to have a harder time reaching those young people than most studio-produced teen films. To compensate for that and in order to show off the film’s true strengths the marketers have instead apparently chosen to sell the movie to the adult art-house crowd.

The fact that the movie screened at Cannes is evidence of that in and of itself but the rest of the actual campaign bears out that notion as well. The marketing shows a movie that has a strong story going for it and is full of naturalistic, emotional moments from the rookie cast. We, as the audience, are sold a movie that might not be so hip it need elastic-wasteband-pants but does have something more interesting to say. And that’s going to appeal more to those who like a little more steak than sizzle in their film choices.

Movie Marketing Madness: Cowboys and Aliens

Ever since 1991’s release of Unforgiven the Western movie genre has been forever altered. All of a sudden the stakes were higher, the emotions deeper and the overall gravitas just that much greater. Eastwood’s movie took a genre of film that had been a symbol for the American male ideal of stoicism and grit and showed its dark, painful underbelly. Westerns since then have also been, to varying degrees, about showing the emotional impact actions have on characters and not so much about the simple virtues of defending the weak and doing what’s right.

That’s not to say filmmakers can’t still have a little fun with the genre now and again.

Based on the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Cowboys & Aliens is a mash-up of the traditional Western with elements of science-fiction/fantasy, something you can probably get from the title alone. The story follows Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), who awakes one day to no memory of who he is or where he’s been but with a strange glowing blue gauntlet around one wrist. Stumbling in to town he eventually crosses paths with Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), a wealthy rancher who more or less runs the town and who has long-lived gripes with Lonergan. As Dolarhyde is about to take him away to exact his revenge, alien ships appear in the sky. It’s eventually reasoned that these ships have something to do with the mysterious disappearances of folk in the area and may hold the key to unlocking Lonergan’s memory. Together with Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) the two rivals must work together to solve the problems that plague both men and maybe do a little good in the process.

The Posters

The first poster certainly let the audience know what it would be in for even while the specifics were still vague. A lone gunman stands in the desert with his back mostly turned to the camera, a Winchester rifle in one hand and some sort of crazy blue-glowy high-tech thingamajig wrapped around his other forearm.

It’s a nice and atmospheric teaser poster that is all about making it clear the audience that the story is a mix of two genres, Western and science-fiction. Oddly, none of the movie’s stars are listed anywhere on the one-sheet though at the top of the poster we are told this is coming from “The director of Iron Man,” so it’s clear that it’s being sold based on the public’s affinity for that movie in lieu of this being a franchise entry itself.

The second poster took the more straightforward approach of trying to sell the movie based on its stars. So Craig and Ford are front and center, this time facing the camera and looking above it into the far distance, with cowboy hats on both of them and the weird glowy gun strapped to Craig’s wrist. It too highlights the fact that this comes “From the director of Iron Man” and looks consistent with the first in how the design and colors are used as well, making it a nice second entry into the poster aspect of the campaign.

A final poster would include Wilde and for some reason opt to ditch the cowboy hats, something that results in Ford’s hair looking kind of ridiculous. It’s an odd choice that seems to be about downplaying the Western aspects of the story, but not fully since Wilde is clearly in Western garb and the two guys are still sporting old fashioned pistols. It’s the weakest of the bunch, unfortunately

The Trailers

The first trailer for the film starts out with a jolt as Craig’s character comes to in the middle of nowhere, a strange object around his wrist. When he’s accosted by a group of ruffians he dispatches them handily before heading in to town, where he encounters Wilde, who he doesn’t remember, and the law man who’s looking for him. Also looking for him is Ford and his group of men. And that’s when things get weird as what appears to be a spaceship appears in the sky and starts blowing things up.

We eventually see Craig take down one of those ships with the doohickey that he’s wearing but the rest of the trailer is a little back and forth. The action cuts between the showdown in town and what appears to be a journey Craig and Ford have to go on since we see a couple shots of them on their own.

What the trailer does well is make the audience say “Wow…that looks cool.” There’s just enough of a story to get people interested but not enough to ruin anything. And there are just enough special effects to sell the movie as an action film. Some of the story’s conflict is established and overall it’s a very effective teaser.

The second full trailer (which debuted during an episode of “American Idol”) once again opens with an amnesiac Lonergan waking up in the desert, unsure of who he is, where he comes from and what that glowing thing on his wrist is. He’s thrown in jail and Dolarhyde tries to take him, which is when the alien ships start to fly around overhead, with the mysterious glowing wristband seeming to be the only thing that can shoot them down. The ships capture some of the townsfolk and the two, along with Ella, decide to work together to try and rescue them. Finding the survivors becomes not only the primary mission but also seems to hold the key to Lonergan unlocking his memory problems and discovering who he really is. So we get lots of shots once again of fast-moving ships in the sky as horses ride along the ground and we’re told there won’t be any survivors.

This trailer has a little more story background in it but it’s still primarily about showing off the movie’s cool visuals and playing up the slick sense of humor that the film seems to have, something that’s most clearly displayed in the last sequence that’s shown. It’s fast moving and has the same sort of rock-and-roll beat that Iron Man’s first trailers did, so it’s clear that the trailers are making the same sort of appeal that those did.

A third and much shorter – just over a minute in length – trailer was released that only hinted at the mystery of the story in favor of lots of shots of alien ships, including what I think was the first look inside one of the ships as the cowboys try to find the people who have been abducted.


The movie’s official website loads with,as the primary element, an invitation to watch the TV spot that debuted during the “Spike Guys Choice Awards” (more on that later) or view some Images, Video or Downloads right from the front page here. There are also prompts down at the bottom to do all sorts of things, including play a Coke-sponsored game, download an iPhone game or the special movie-themed Hipstamatic Facebook app and more, including an invitation to check out the conversation unspooling on Socialrama, an aggregation site.

Once you go ahead and Enter the Site the first section of content (after the alien ship crashes to earth) is “About the Film” which has a pretty good synopsis in The Story, lots of information about the people involved in “Cast and Crew” and then more information you can download in the “Production Notes.”

“Videos” has both the Theatrical and Teaser trailers, the Spike TV spot exclusive as well as a few other TV Spots and a featurette to watch. There are about 15 stills in the “Gallery” from the film’s production. A collection of Buddy Icons, Wallpapers and even a Twitter Skin can be found in the “Downloads” section.

The “Games and Features” has two things: The Landscapes, Lawmen and Outlaws feature is just another way to grab some wallpapers for your desktop while “Absolution Training Grounds” is a shooting game that has you taking out various alien ships.

There was also a tie-in site launched that let people send an old-fashioned telegram for free to someone with a customized message, something that’s a nice twist on the idea of encouraging people to mention a movie to their friends and which usually takes place on social networks nowadays.

The movie’s Facebook page ports over a lot of the official site’s features to its front page along with lots of graphics promoting some of the corporate marketing partners like Coke and 7-Eleven. Outside of that there are plenty of photos and videos and marketing updates, many of which are also published to the movie’s Twitter profile.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The movie was one of the first to be pegged as being supported by a commercial during 2011’s Super Bowl, news that broke when Favreau announced on his Twitter account that he was cutting the spot.

That Super Bowl spot was pretty cool. It starts off in much the same way as the trailer, by showing Lonergan being confronted in a bar. After dispatching those who would arrest him the aliens start appearing and we see lots of ships flying overhead and snatching people up. It certainly plays up the action aspects of the film, which isn’t surprising. It’s fast-paced and all that, showing off to the broad audience that tuned in for the game a movie that looked like it was trying to live in two worlds. What’s unsure is how that then translates to audience interest.

Further TV commercials would play up the action aspects of the movie while still hinting at the missing identity story, with the first one even giving one of the first looks at the mysterious aliens that make up the movie’s title. More commercials would continue in this vein, including one that ran during the much-watched season finale of “American Idol.”

Then another, this time debuting during the SpikeTV “Guys Choice Awards” would make the movie look tougher than some of the previous had, with more footage of Craig’s character actually being the badass that everyone around him seems to think he is, something the previous trailers and spots haven’t emphasized very much.

There was quite a bit of outdoor advertising done as well, mostly with images of Craig aiming his wrist gauntlet gun, something that obviously became the most recognizable image of the campaign.

On the promotional front there was a partnership with 7-Eleven (MediaPost, 7/5/11), which developed a new “Alienade” flavor of Slurpee and offered “Wrist Blaster” cups that actually lit up with the same mysterious glowing light from the movie and featured the three main characters. The promotion there was supported with radio and other media advertising.

Coca-Cola also was a sponsor of a movie-themed augmented reality game that awarded $5,000 in gold to the winner of a related sweepstakes. And photo app Hipstamatic offered a movie-specific version to users for a limited time.

Media and Publicity

Outside of the casting news, the first bit of news came (as was the case with Iron Man 2) from director Favreau tweeting out a picture from the set, in this case an image of Craig in costume, though he’s heavily backlit so you can’t make out his face or many other details.

A fuller view of Craig in costume came when the movie appeared at Comic-Con 2010, an appearance that included director Favreau’s bringing out both Harrison Ford and Craig, neither of whom had been announced and neither of whom had been to the convention before.

The release of the first poster and trailer generated the next swell in publicity about the movie, though with that came a bit of discussion about the movie’s apparent confusion-inducing nature. It seems audiences at some screenings where the trailer was shown started laughing (New York Times, 11/30/10) while the trailer played, seemingly thinking the title “Cowboys & Aliens” meant some sort of genre-mixing spoof or comedy. That audience confusion (initially noted by Aris at AdAge) was, in some respects, expected and much of the media outreach that’s been done has been to convey the fact that there are no tongues in cheeks in the film but instead that it plays both genres as seriously as possible, something Favreau has noted in numerous interviews.

A good chunk of the movie, about 40 minutes, was screened at the 2010 installment of Harry Knowles’ Butt-Numb-A-Thon festival, where it picked up some mixed and some fantastic buzz for its look and feel as well as its performances. That screening even produced legitimate press stories (Los Angeles Times, 2/5/11) about how Favreau, Howard and others considered that screening the “Iowa caucus” for the film, especially since the property itself was coming in with pretty low public recognition in the public.

A panel for the movie was held at WonderCon (THR, 3/31/11), the little brother to the bigger Comic-Con, where Favreau held forth on the film for the assembled geeks and press and showed off about 10 minutes of the film to the assembled crowd. The cast and crew continued to talk to the press (LAT, 4/25/11) about the tone of the film, how Ford was brought into the project and more about the crossing of the genre streams. Chats between the filmmakers and the press continued when Favreau dropped in to the Hero Complex Fest and continued to establish his geek credentials.

While it was certain that the movie would have some sort of big presence at 2011 Comic-Con it was nonetheless big news when it was announced (THR, 6/13/11) that the it would have its world premiere at San Francisco.


I can’t stop thinking of the campaign for Inception from last year whenever I’m looking at the marketing for Cowboys & Aliens. In both cases the movie itself is an original story (Yes, C&A is an adaptation but it’s not a sequel, superhero movie, franchise reboot or some such like that). But also in both cases the marketing has emphasized the fact that it comes from the director of a popular franchise, thereby attempting to create some sort of familiar ground for the audience. “You liked Iron Man so you should feel right at home here” is the message that’s being conveyed by making Favreau so prominent in the campaign in various ways.

Aside from that this is a fun campaign that, even with stars like Ford and Craig, still has a long way to go to convince people it’s worth their time and money to see. Genre mash-ups are notoriously hard to pull off and can confuse moviegoers who may not be completely on board with the conceit of the film, finding not enough staples of either kind of movie to fully latch on to and writing off the whole shooting match as too confusing. While film critics might love it and completely get what it’s going for because they are down with all those conventions the average moviegoer may just want to be entertained.

That being said, I think this campaign does a decent job of making sure the focus remains squarely on the adventure components of the film’s story, making the case that regardless of what genre talk there might be that this is a fast-paced ride with a mystery at its core, something that’s more understandable to the larger audience and therefore hopefully more attractive.


  • 07/29/11 – Again we have Mashable taking a look at the use of social media in the campaign.
  • 08/02/11 – 7-Eleven was also chosen as a promotional partner for the movie’s tie-in video game.

Movie Marketing Madness: Crazy Stupid Love

Love can make people stupid. That’s not just a corny turn of a phrase based on the title of this movie we’ll be discussing today but it’s a cold, hard fact. When you’re either trying to woo someone you’re attracted to or are completely in love with another human being you can act more than a little stupid. You’ll do things you never thought you’d do, act in ways you never imagined you would and likely be completely happy in the process, seeing the results your craziness is having in the person on the receiving end of it.

This week’s movie Crazy Stupid Love is about all sorts of relationships in all sorts of stages. That’s hardly original ground, having been trod by all manner of movies and TV Shows. Married couple Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) have been married for decades and seemingly happy until he finds out she’s been cheating with David (Kevin Bacon) and wants a divorce. Depressed, he latches on to confirmed player Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who is smitten with whip-smart and no-nonsense Hannah (Emma Stone). Cal then awkwardly begins a relationship with Kate (Marisa Tomei) but is still truly in love with Emily. Meanwhile he’s trying to help his son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) as he’s crushing hard on the older babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton). So there are all sorts of things going on with a sizable ensemble cast.

The Posters

There were a number of posters created for the movie, something that should be all the surprising given the number of name players in the cast.

A teaser series used the movie’s title to create a nice sequence of shots. So there are a couple that feature the word “Crazy”, one that shows the Carell/Tomei relationship from his point of view and one from hers, both of which showing the awkwardness he’s feeling and the aggressive vibe she’s giving off, one with “Stupid” that has the three guys engaging in a little bit of aggressive emotional venting, and two with “Love,” one that shows Gosling and Stone in bed laughing and one with Carell and Moore sharing a laugh as well, though they’re fully clothed. That’s a nice way to show off most of the cast in different situations, all of which together give the audience the sense that we’ll be having some funny and engaging moments in the story.


The final theatrical one-sheet uses the same image of Carell with a terrified look on his face through the frame of Tomei’s raised leg that’s on one of the teasers, relegating the rest of the cast to a series of headshots at the bottom of the image.

The Trailers

The movie’s trailer opens with Moore and Carell driving along as she confesses to having an affair and wanting to separate. He’s so unable to deal with this that he just exits the car as it’s still driving along, showing he’s not exactly the most emotive guy on the planet. We then transition to seeing how much of a player Gosling’s Jacob is and how he takes Cal under his wing to show him how to be a single guy again, getting him new clothes and a new look. That results in the awkward encounter with Tomei. Then things get flipped as Jacob looks to Cal for advice on how to deal with the fact he might actually be feeling something for Hannah beyond being a one-night-stand. We also get glimpses of the storyline between Robbie and Jessica and then, towards the end, some sense of Hannah’s attitude.

The trailer conveys a movie that is plenty funny, with snippets of great dialogue and a good pace, but also one that has some genuine emotion going on under the surface. More than anything, though, it shows that the performances of this collection of fine actors has the potential – the potential, mind you – to take whatever is on the page and do something more with what’s there. It’s certainly sold as being an attractive alternative to an adult crowd with some potential crossover into younger audiences as well.


The movie’s official website opens, as is often the case, by playing the trailer. After you either watch or skip that the first section of content is the “Synopsis” which is halfway decent and makes it clear that the primary relationship is the one between Cal and Emily since that gets the majority of the column inches here.

After that is a “Gallery” that contains a number of stills from the movie and then comes “Videos” where you’ll be able to watch the trailer once again as well as a few TV Spots. “Downloads” has a variety of virtual swag to grab and add to your machine.

“Cast & Filmmakers” contains career histories on the Cast, the Filmmakers as well as Production Notes to download. You can listen to song snippets on the “Soundtracks” page and view some sites that gave away movie promotional material in “Sweeps.”

Finally, the “Love Quiz” lets you plot on a four-quadrant graph where you fall in choosing between Crazy/Not Crazy and Stupid/Not Stupid. You can also leave a comment on the choice you make and view what others have left as well. That’s a slightly better take on this concept than is usually presented on the sites for romantic comedies.

The Facebook page has updates on the promotional and marketing activities for the movie as well as photos and videos.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There were a ton of TV spots created for the film, all taking different tacks on selling the movie. Some focused on one relationship over the other but most all of them sold the movie as being an intelligent, well-written and well-acted dramatic comedy of sorts that, depending on which spot you choose, is primarily aimed at one demographic over another. Most all of them have the same general tone as the trailer, showing it’s a slick and attractive film that is well-made but not too challenging to the audience.

Media and Publicity

The cast, primarily Carell, made some media rounds of talk shows and such talking about the movie and all that. But that’s about it, with no major press stories hitting, at least none that have crossed my radar.


I keep using (or have stopped myself from over-using) the words “slick,” “attractive” or “whip-smart” but that’s the overall tone I’m getting from this campaign. The campaign definitely has a vibe of trying to sell a movie that’s not a traditional romantic comedy even as it tries to hit some of those same points so as not to appear too unfamiliar to the general movie-going audience.

As I’ve said, Carrel is certainly the focal point here and it’s apparent that it’s his character’s story that we’re primarily following. But there’s a conscious effort made to include more of the cast in an attempt to bridge multiple age groups, particularly by focusing at times on the Gosling/Stone relationship that plays out since she’s one of the hottest young actresses of the moment. It’s a solid campaign that, while it can’t compete on volume, does work hard to win over a good potion of the public.


  • 07/26/11 – FunnyOrDie has a pretty funny video showing Carell’s outrageous contract demands in regards to how he’s presented on his movie’s posters.

Movie Marketing Madness: Another Earth

Even if we’re not massive egomaniacs we all do still like to believe we’re in some fashion unique. We go through life with the belief that the decisions we’re making are the ones only we would make based on our previous experiences, that we’re the only ones seeing the world from this particular point of view and so on. Again, this isn’t ego-based thinking that our perspective is so super special (though some people certainly fall into that trap) it’s just a basic assumption that there is not an exact duplicate of us who’s mimicking our every move.

But what if we do indeed have a double out there somewhere?

That’s the basic premise of Another Earth. One day a mysterious planet appears in the heavens that appears to be just like Earth. When communication is established between the two worlds it’s discovered that this visiting world doesn’t just look like Earth…it’s in fact a duplicate of this one, with all the same people and everything. Budding astrophysicist Rhoda (Brit Marling) has been struggling with a tragedy she feels responsible for and becomes curious as to what decisions her doppelganger made when confronted with similar circumstances. Or if there were even similar circumstances to face at all. Selected as one of the first to make a visit to the duplicate Earth she sets out to find out how unique we actually are in the world.

The Posters

The one poster shows that this is Marling’s movie as it’s just her standing there in front of the ocean and the beautiful blue sky which has both the moon and a very large planet in the background. It’s bright and mysterious and while it doesn’t get into the plot almost at all but does make it clear that she’s the main character and that it’s her story that we’re going to be following.

The Trailers

The first trailer for the movie is mysterious, emotional and riveting. We’re quickly introduced to the conceit that a doppleganger of the planet earth has suddenly appeared in the sky. When an official tries to make contact with that planet she finds herself talking to herself, meaning the other planet isn’t just another hospitable orb but actually a duplicate of the earth we all know. A lottery is held to award a few hundred lucky souls a trip to this other world and Rhoda enters it because, as we see later, she’s running away from an incident she’s ashamed of in her past and she, as the narration asks, wants to see if her other self has made the same mistakes she did.

Honestly watching this I was struck by what a wonderfully simple science-fiction premise this was. It presents something outrageous, makes it into something plausible and then explores the character’s reaction to that event. it’s clear in the trailer that this is Marling’s movie as she’s the heart and soul of the film and the eyes through which we’ll see all the questions that are raised asked and maybe even answered.


In addition to the usual Fox Searchlight features such as newsfeeds and social network widgets the movie’s official website has some good content.

At the top of the page there’s a Synopsis that gives you an overview of the film’s story, the Trailer which is absolutely worth re-watching, Cast/Crew credits and career histories and a series of stories that come from actual scientists and others on the theories about Parallel Worlds.

A pretty cool website was created called that allowed you to communicate with your alternate on the other planet through written messages that were held up to a webcam. So the site took a picture of you, colored it a little differently and then displayed some sort of message back to you. Nice idea and a decent execution.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’ve seen.

Media and Publicity

First appearing at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival the movie picked up a decent amount of buzz, though nothing all that earth-shattering. Writer/director Cahill offered his thoughts (Filmmaker Magazine, 1/24/11) from the filming while the festival was going on and it was only shortly after its public debut that Fox Searchlight picked it up for distribution.

The movie made a later appearance at the Los Angeles Film Festival (Los Angeles Times, 5/3/11) though out of competition.

Later the focus of a few press stories turned to the movie’s production and how Marling and director Mike Cahill on how they went about embracing and integrating the actual science behind parallel world theories (Wired, 7/19/11) and then how this movie plays into the careers of both Cahill and Marling (LAT, 7/21/11).


This is a pretty cool campaign for a movie that appears to be science fiction in the purest sense of the term. No it’s not about demons and wizards and trolls (which is more fantasy) but about presenting a premise that is based in science and then using that premise to put the characters through their paces. It’s a gentle campaign that plays up the emotional weight felt by the characters, particularly of course Marling’s Rhoda, which appears to be in line with what the movie is actually about. No, it’s not knocking anyone’s socks off but it doesn’t need to since the goal here seems to be more about attracting the arthouse audience than the usual sci-fi crowd.

Movie Marketing Madness: Captain America

captain america the first avenger posterVery few comic book characters have reached “icon” status. Sure there are some that are well-known and the past few years have proven that even those who hover just below the A-List can become popular among audiences who aren’t constantly evaluating whether or not X title still belongs on their pull list or if a series of creative misfires have made rendered it no longer worth regularly reading.

While he’s never been as instantly and universally popular as his Marvel Universe cohorts Spider-Man and The Hulk, Captain America is certainly an icon of the comics world. Created during the Second World War as a Nazi-smashing figure of the American fighting spirit and then revived during the 60’s as a central component of Marvel’s burgeoning character line-up, Cap has since been a character that not everyone might be completely schooled on but they are certainly aware of.

Now he’s taking his place in the cinematic version of the Marvel Universe in the new movie Captain America: The First Avenger. The movie, unlike the other films Marvel Studios has produced recently, is a period piece that rightly places Cap – first just scrawny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) – in the 1940’s. Desperate to do his part for the war but constantly turned away because he’s so undersized, Rogers is eventually recruited into a super-secret program to turn soldiers into the perfect fighting machine. But when Hydra, the science division of the Nazi army, destroys the formula and the process right after Rogers goes through it he’s left as the only one. It’s up to him, then to take down the Hydra’s leader The Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and save the world.

There have been allusions and references to Cap in just about all the previous movies from Marvel (I don’t know about Thor since I haven’t seen it), including glimpses of his shield in both Iron Man movies and the prominent role the Super Soldier program played in The Incredible Hulk. But Marvel is clearly setting the table for next year’s The Avengers and the role Cap will play in it with this movie’s subtitle.

The Posters

The first poster, which debuted just days before the first TV spot ran during the Super Bowl, presented a gritty portrait of the character. Cap is standing there in the middle of the design with his head bowed and holding his shield in a moment of serious contemplation.

Across his chest is the word “Avenge,” a clear allusion to his future inclusion in the super team of that name. Dirt flies all around him as if in battle, which ties in nicely to the filmmaker’s desire to make this a war picture as much as a super hero movie.

The image is pretty similar to one originally appearing on the cover of Captain America #4 from 2005 and so is clearly meant to appeal to the comics readers in the audience.

Nowhere to be seen on this first teaser is the subtitle “The First Avenger,” though the “Avenge” here does foreshadow that. Presumably that will appear later in the campaign but on this one it’s not just downplayed but non-existent.

There was a promotional poster that was created for the crew of the movie and featured a 40’s-era type of design aesthetic. It was kind of so awesome that I almost don’t want to say too much about it for fear of getting in to a neverending rant on why this kind of cool design concept can’t be used for the actual movie marketing efforts instead of being consigned to this sort of behind the scenes promotion.

The second official poster gave us a better look at Evans as Cap. He’s right up in front of the camera looking off to the side as if evaluating some new threat, his shield taking up most of the lower half of the image space. Evans still isn’t sporting the cowl here, which makes me think that there’s something telling the studio that putting him in that mask is turning people off in some manner. There’s no other reason not to have Captain America fully decked out on the posters for the movie. Aside from that, though, this is still quite good and continues the gritty look of the first one but in more of an action sequence than before.

A final theatrical poster was released just a week before release that brought the whole cast into the picture. Cap stands there (still sans cowl) while Peggy Carter, Col. Phillips, the Howling Commandos and Bucky Barnes are arrayed around him as the Red Skull scowls in the background and explosions fly around everyone. It’s very much a traditional type of super hero one-sheet and indeed is remarkably similar to posters for other heroes like Iron Man and more but gosh darnit if it doesn’t work. It’s also nice to see the poster campaign finally catch up to the rest of the marketing in highlighting the rest of the cast, something that’s been a constant theme of the trailers and TV spots while the posters have just been focused on Cap.

The Trailers

The first full length trailer is kind of fantastic. We meet Steve Rogers as a scrawny, undersized would-be volunteer in the army who’s rejected over and over again. As we see his hard-scrabble life as the kid who’s always picked on (including getting into a fight where he grabs a garbage can cover for protection) we also hear the exposition from Jones’ officer talking about a new “super soldier” program. The footage then shifts to Rogers being put into the capsule that facilitates his transformation into the perfect soldier, including a brief shot of Howard Stark.

Finally we begin to see Captain America in action, barging into Nazi/Hydra outposts (with the Howling Commandos, which is all kinds of awesome in and of itself) and throwing his shield at the bad guys. We get a similar shot of the Red Skull as we saw in the earlier Super Bowl spot and plenty of action, especially in the last half of the trailer.

This trailer is very, very cool. it shows the look and feel of the movie (including the computer-assisted shrinking of Chris Evans) as being something that seems akin to Johnston’s The Rocketeer while also having the action ramped up a bit. It also pulls off the tricky task of selling the movie as being a pretty good straight action flick while also selling it as a fantastic comics adaptation with lots of tips to the mythology of the character. Just great stuff.

The second trailer starts with the setup as we meet Steve Rogers and see what kind of character he has as well as how he’s finally accepted in to the Army. There’s a key scene on this front where Jones’ character throws a dummy grenade in a group of recruits and Rogers jumps on it to try and save the others, a moment that tips the scales in terms of his being selected for the Super Soldier program. We then see his transformation, which is followed by Hydra destroying Erskine’s lab.

Then the action shifts into high gear as Cap starts taking the fight to Hydra and their Nazis, taking down their bases and hitting lots of them with his shield. We finally, at least in this part of the campaign, get to hear the Red Skull speak as he confronts Cap about what makes him so special, to which he replies “Nothing…I’m just a kid from Brooklyn,” a line that bookends the trailer nicely and brings it back to his humble beginnings.

If anything the trailer works even better than the first, showing a more complete and more linear story arc and really selling the all out action of the film while still very much making it a character-driven story. There are a few bad jokes in there but that’s alright.


When the official website first loads you get one of those “site lite” sort of deals. You’re prompted to watch the Trailer and view a Story synopsis. The Video section here has both trailers as well as the Super Bowl commercial and finally there’s a bit over a dozen stills in the Images section.

Finally Entering the Site things load like the beginning of a filmstrip showing some sort of military program.

The first section there is “About the Film” and there you’ll find a short Synopsis of the movie’s story as well as Cast and Filmmaker bios and Production Notes – at least those sections are listed there despite the fact that each one is currently (less than a week from release) still tagged as “Coming Soon.”

The same 14 images that were on the front page are here in the “Gallery” and the “Videos” section also just has the same three videos. “Downloads” then just has Wallpapers and Buddy Icons.

The “Experience” (which is also universally accessible via the “Dossiers” navigation on the right) has information on all the major characters and organizations in the movie, ranging from Cap himself to Hydra to the Howling Commandos.

The movie’s Facebook page has updates on publicity, promotions and marketing as well as video and photos and more.

Those watching the trailer online and then later seeing the movie could check-in to GetGlue and earn exclusive stickers. There was also an iPhone/iPad app that featured a 24-level game where Cap had to kick the hinders of Hydra agents and other baddies.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Marvel, as they’ve done with other films of theirs, created multiple lists of essential readings and other comic promotions to take advantage of how the character is (hopefully) at the top of people’s minds. There was also, as many had been predicting, a relaunch of the main Captain America title that included not only a new #1 but also the new #1 that featured the return of Steve Rogers to the shield, thereby not confusing all those new potential readers with a Cap who’s not Rogers.

The comic tie-ins also included a prequel digital book that was set in the world of the movie and filled in some of the story elements from the film, giving readers a sneak peak into that story.

There was, of course, a video game that’s being released around the same time as the movie that doesn’t necessarily share a plot or tie directly in to the film but, again, is part of the overall spotlighting of the character that’s being done across all platforms.

The first look at any actual footage from the film came when Paramount ran a 30 second commercial for it during Super Bowl XLV. It starts off by showing us skinny, scrawny Steve Rogers (what appears to be a heavily computer-modified Evans) who is then placed into a chamber and emerges a moment later much taller and much stronger. We then see him in full uniform and with his shield leading troops into battle, swinging through an enemy stronghold and more. It ends with a bit of humor as Peggy Carter proves that the shield works in a very effective way. The spot includes mention of this being our introduction to the first Avenger and, most importantly, shows that the costume looks pretty darn cool on screen and in motion, which was my and others biggest fear.

Further TV commercials would play up the transformation of Steve Rogers from a frail weakling who’s beat up in city alleyways into the super soldier who takes on the bad guys single-handedly, with some showing the transformation sequence and other just hinting at it while showing lots of footage of Cap throwing his shield at various things and otherwise plowing through the enemy ranks. More commercials would feature more character moments and even feature the first look at on-screen dialogue from the Red Skull and more.

Some TV spots such as this one would include footage of Cap being found in the modern day, frozen in a block of ice, something I didn’t think was going to make it into the movie. That’s a pretty big reveal of a pretty major part of the movie and I’m more than a little surprised it’s shown so prominently here. I had kind of assumed that if this

Out-of-home standees were placed in theaters that reproduced the movie’s key poster art.

Despite the period setting of the film there was some activity on the cross-promotion front as well.

Norton security software was on board, not only with product promotions but also with a video they produced called “Behind the Shield” that featured interviews with Evans, Johnston and some of the Marvel creators and executives talking about the character and its history, focusing of course on the creation of the shield for the movie. That video premiered on Norton’s Facebook page and required people to Like the page to view it, though how Norton thought they would convert comic/movie fans to customers I’m not sure.

Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins engaged in some retail promotions of their own, with star-shaped donuts being available at the former along with red, white and blue Coolata drinks and the latter offering lots of new tri-colored and movie-themed ice cream treats. There was also an “Unlock the Lab” feature on the Dunkin’ website that featured exclusive movie content and chances to win prizes ranging from a trip to the premiere to movie soundtracks and other swag.

Media and Publicity

While people had obviously been talking about this movie for a while – mainly about casting and costume design but also speculating as to tone and story – the reality started to kick in around Comic-Con 2010. Not only was Evans in attendance there but just prior to the convention a very cool and artistic piece of concept art was released that showed the character in battle in WWII. Also in attendance at Comic-Con was Cap’s shield from the movie, giving everyone their first real-life look at the prop and serving to get people excited when combined with the brief bit of footage that was shown as part of the movie’s panel presentation.

Also right around the time of Comic-Con director Johnston made it clear that the story was about one man’s character and his quest to remain a good person as opposed to be a “flag-waver” (Los Angeles Times, 7/21/10) who was unquestioningly patriotic but was still a guardian of America and her people. While some people read a lot in to this, it’s clear Johnston is simply saying they had to come up with a definition of the character that would fit in the movie, which doesn’t have the luxury of changing writers in six months.

In terms of mainstream press coverage, one of the first major salvos came when the first official photo of Evans wearing the uniform and carrying the shield – but still not sporting the mask – appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly (10/28/10) with more photos and an interview with the star on how he overcame his fears around taking on the role inside. This first look, of course, got picked up everywhere and discussed in countless blog posts and other stories, which is exactly what the studio was hoping for.

Early interviews with Evans would focus on how he was excited to be part of the character’s history, the obstacles he knew he’d have to be overcoming and how he’s dealt with fan reaction both positive and not-so-much about him donning the flag as well as how he saw the larger Marvel Universe playing out on film.

Entertainment Weekly continued to be a significant source of early looks at the movie, later on debuting the first decent picture of Captain America in full uniform (EW, 1/13/11), including the helmet.

Atwell also become the focus of some press, even if it was just a photo shoot (Esquire, 8/11) that emphasized how beautiful she is.

The tie-in toys and other products for the movie were also among those debuting or otherwise making a big show at the annual Toy Fair convention (Hollywood Reporter, 2/10/11), an event Evans was in attendance at to check out toy-afied version of himself and so on.

Johnston spilled quite a few details about the plot in an interview (EW, 3/3/11) that also featured the first full look at Weaving in full Red Skull garb. And he continued talking about the thematic connections the movie does and doesn’t have to Raiders of the Lost Ark (LAT, 3/29/11) and how that movie was used as an initial template when they were outlining the story.

This was one of the movies Marvel/Paramount brought to the CinemaCon trade event, showing off about 20 minutes of the movie in a couple different segments to the theater and exhibition executives in attendance.

In the wake of reactions to the first full trailer that were generally positive but which did include some skepticism as to the quality of the effects, particularly those that involved turning Evans into a scrawny youth, the actor came out and talked about how those effects had improved (LAT, 4/27/11) and that everything was looking really good and would be in great shape by release.

The movie was one of those brought to the Hero Complex Fest, where Evans was able to do some glad-handing and the second full trailer debuted to the receptive audience, which was a mix of industry players, press and comics/movie geeks.

A feature length profile of Evans (GQ, June, 2011) seemed to be more about how charming and charismatic the actor was as opposed to anything movie-related, but that was probably the goal all along since it could potentially have the effect of bringing more female attention to a comic book movie.

There was a lot of speculation and mulling done in the early days of the movie’s production that the title would be changed for international markets where the idea of someone who is 100% American cheerleader might not be such a great idea. Ultimately, though, the decision was made (New York Times, 7/3/11) to retain the full “Captain America: The First Avenger” title in all but a handful of countries where such sentiment was most virulent since brand recognition was seen as being more important than anything else.

While the movie is opening *during* Comic-Con 2011 and no panel was being planned reports began to surface (THR, 7/5/11) that there would be some sort of presence there that would likely involve Evans. Eventually it was revealed that a special Comic-Con screening of the movie hosted by Evans would be taking place so that the assembled geeks could see the movie while they were in San Diego for that event.

Shortly before Comic-Con the theme returned to Evans’ wrestling with the decision to play the character in the first place (NYT, 7/10/11) and how he got over his nerves and jumped on board.


I’ll admit right off the bat that I’m completely in the bag for this movie. During my early comic-reading years I was always a huge Avengers fan and since Cap was an integral part of that he was constantly on my radar. I never read his solo book with any regularity (outside of a brief time around ‘88/’89 or so) but always more or less knew what was going on.

So with that being said this campaign works really well for me. The posters, the trailers and everything else come together very nicely and create something that makes me want to see the movie even more than I did before.

Even more importantly there’s nothing here that is actively discouraging me from seeing the movie. So many times these movies have built in audiences like myself that are 98% likely to see the film and the only thing that is going to turn off their desire is a campaign that shows the movie just completely botches the character, even if that’s not the case in the full film. But there’s nothing here that dampens any enthusiasm and that might just be the biggest hurdle that the campaign had to clear.


  • 07/21/11 – Wired has some details on what exactly the movie’s Comic-Con promotions amounted to.
  • 07/22/11 – Both the LAT and the AP have takes on the challenges of selling this movie outside the U.S.
  • 07/22/11 – Christina Warren at Mashable goes a little overboard in trying to make the case that social media was a big part of the movie’s campaign. By that I mean “using YouTube” and “having a Facebook” page doesn’t exactly signal great marketing innovation in 2011 from my perspective.

Movie Marketing Madness: A Little Help

When someone turns out to be something other than what we expect them to be or have come to believe them to be we can have a number of potential reactions. It can fall off like water off a duck’s back and we can write it off or we can mightily freak out and feel betrayed. Certainly the depth to which we relate to that person – are we casual friends or are we married to them – influences how strong our reaction is going to be.

In the new movie A Little Help one person suffers the ultimate betrayal before needing to drastically change how they live their life. Jenna Fischer plays Laura, a wife and mother who finds out her husband Bob (Chris O’Donnell) has been cheating on her. Shortly after being confronted with the fact that she knows he dies of a heart attack and leaves her and their son to fend for themselves. While he deals with things by lying to his classmates that his dad actually died in the Word Trade Center on 9/11/01 she just tries to keep things afloat. The movie, then, is about how they try to pick up their lives and move on in new and stronger directions.

The Posters

Pretty basic, the movie’s one poster just shows Fischer laying in bed with the covers wrapped around her like she’s protesting the world and staying in bed that day. Fischer’s association with “The Office” is what’s called out in the copy at the top that praises her performance, a decision clearly made to make sure audiences could recall where they knew her from.

The Trailers

We start off simply enough in the trailer, with her picking up her son instead of her husband, who’s “working late.” Later on she confronts him about all those late nights and it’s revealed that he was cheating on her, something that comes out just before he suffers a fatal heart attack. But Dennis thinks it’s cooler to tell his classmates his dad died in 9/11. So the movie is clearly about the two of them coming to terms with each other in this new situation.

The trailer is kind of great. Fischer seems to give such a natural, effortless performance that, based on this, it’s easy to see her as a put upon mom who wants to be cool and can see her son’s point of view but who also needs to be an authority figure. She’s of course given a new romantic interest (the biggest cliche is that he’s someone who had a crush on her in high school) but continues to muddle through her job, which comes complete with annoying talking bird. It’s funny, light-hearted and emotional and I like this a lot.


The movie’s official website (built completely on WordPress from what I can tell) is actually quite a nice affair for such a small, low-budget movie.

“About” has a Story synopsis that goes into quite a bit of detail on the film’s plot and then very nice Production notes and Filmmaker information. Next there’s the “Cast” section which gives brief bits of background on the primary cast members. And “Director” has a message from Michael J. Weithorn on what inspired the film and more.

“Video” has a ton of material, ranging from the trailer to all sorts of interviews with the cast and crew on different aspects of the production and so on.

You can find out if the movie is playing near you in the “Theaters” section and then in “Links” there are links (natch) you can use to buy tickets and find the film’s social network profiles.

“Soundtrack” has snippets of the songs from the movie you can listen to as well as information on buying the record. There are also sections on “Accolades” that lists what film festivals it has appeared at and what it may have one there and, finally, “Press” that just has pull quotes from some early reviews of the movie.

The movie has a pretty decent Twitter profile with updates on what’s happening on the official site as well press the cast has been doing. Many of those updates along with some media can also be found on the Facebook page along with conversations with fans about when the movie would be opening near them and so on.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’ve seen.

Media and Publicity

Mostly this has been Fischer doing a small bit of media interviews on TV and on the radio but that’s about it. No big press coverage to speak of.


While there are certainly shortcomings – though those are understandable considering this isn’t a huge film and is coming out in-between massive blockbuster releases – I quite like this campaign. Mostly that’s because it capitalizes on the strongest asset it has – Fischer’s charm and likability. So the marketing makes sure to put those characteristics on display as much as possible and, while it’s certainly not going to be on everyone’s To See List it should resonate with people who come across the campaign.

Quick Takes: 7/15/11

  • Adweek put together what they feel were the 20 best movie marketing taglines. I’m not sure what the criteria was that they used but while I absolutely agree with some of them (Clerks, Dazed and Confused and others) there are some that are so ordinary that their inclusion here is questionable.
  • On the other hand I can’t argue at all with the selection of The Social Network’s trailer for the top spot at this year’s Golden Trailer Awards. Tree of Life won best independent and you can view other winners here.
  • Panasonic thinks that poor 3D TV sales can be chalked up to Hollywood making poor movies that no one wants to see in 3D in the theaters much less at home. If you count the audience itself that makes two parties pointing the finger at the studios.
  • An interesting perspective on how pattern recognition plays in to what movies we gravitate toward and enjoy.
  • I didn’t get to a column on The Ledge despite my plans to but Fast Company has a look at the push and pull to either hide or tout the fact that the story came from an avowed atheist and how it was marketed based on that fact.
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is partnering with the Alamo Drafthouse to make all the Mondo original movie posters part of the Academy’s permanent archive, making sure those very cool pieces of original art are preserved.