After the Campaign: X-Men: First Class


In my campaign review for X-Men: First Class (over four years ago) I wrote:

As for my question of whether or not it’s entertaining enough for me to overcome my continuity issues, it’s not quite successful on that front but I don’t know that it ever could have been. I’m always going to have problems with the fact that this version of Emma Frost contradicts the Wolverine solo movie’s and that we never get that Mystique was originally trained by Xavier. But those are my problems to bare and the campaign does make the movie look very attractive (again outside of the posters) in its own right.

So yeah, I finally saw the movie a couple days ago and I have to say: It’s so fun I didn’t really care about the continuity issues. That may be partly because I know Days of Future Past (which I also haven’t seen) cleans some of those up but even so, First Class clips along with a charm and bounce that I completely bought into. McAvoy and Fassbender in particular play incredibly well off each other and provide the vast majority of that bounce and charm and, of course, provide much of the forward momentum of the story.

There are certainly issues with the film, some of which are hinted at in the campaign. None of the secondary villains are fully developed to the point where we feel like they’re any actual threat; They’re just a stick figure for some sort of power. Even Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw is an inked sketch, with all kinds of evil machinations in play (I said while watching it “So Sebastian Shaw orchestrated the Cuban Missile Crisis. I did not know that.”) but no explanation as to his motivations. I’m writing many of these issues off to the rushed production schedule, but measuring on that curve it’s actually remarkably well put together.

So as a whole I feel like the campaign somewhat mis-sold the movie as being a bit more serious than it really is, but that’s not hugely detrimental. I wish, though, more of that had been played up in the trailers and other materials. Yes, it’s full of character and timeline issues that don’t jive with the first three X-Men movies or Wolverine’s first solo film. But it’s so much fun that even as I cared about all that I didn’t really care about all that.

More Indie Film Coverage in 2016; Here’s How to Get Involved

A while ago I came across the film Nobody Walks In L.A. The filmmaker, Jesse Shapiro, had already shot the film but was running a Kickstarter to cover the cost of licensing the music he wanted. The trailer he’d put together made it look like a nice little character piece about a guy being pulled out of the depression over a breakup by a girl he’s been friends with for years. The two walk around Los Angeles talking through all their issues, which of course comes with plenty of complications.

nobody walks in la

As I think about 2016 I realize I want to do more to support the indie film world here on my site. This is a community that’s going through plenty of issues as festivals become crowded with star-studded features, distribution becomes more and more of a crapshoot and plenty more. If I can help raise the awareness behind some of these efforts then I can feel like I’m helping some struggling artists achieve their goal of releasing a movie they’re (hopefully) proud of. I’m not saying coverage here is going to be the rocket fuel they need to hit stardom, but maybe I can turn a dozen more people onto something they would otherwise have missed and might enjoy.

So here’s how you can get the marketing for an indie movie you’re working on featured here: Email moviemarketingmadness-at-gmail-dot-com with the following information:

  • Name of the movie
  • Your relationship to the production
  • All available marketing assets like
    • Site/social network links
    • Trailer or promotional video
    • Poster or key art
    • Official stills
  • The name of the cast
  • A two-paragraph max plot synopsis
  • Date of release (if applicable) as well as format of release (VOD etc)

I can’t promise I’m going to get to everything (assuming anyone sends me anything) but will try to provide some coverage of the movie you’re looking to promote around it’s planned release.

Please don’t just send me projects you’re still trying to fund through Kickstarter or IndieGoGo. That’s a whole other thing. I’m looking to cover movies that have already been shot and are preparing for release.

This should be exciting and I’m anxious to expand the scope of coverage here to more smaller movies. Hopefully this works out.

Flashback Friday Coming to MMM in 2016

One of the things I’ve always wanted to play around with as part of Movie Marketing Madness is covering how classic movies were sold to the public. Not only would it give me a chance to go back to a time before movies had websites and Instagram feeds, it would allow me to not only explore the history of movie marketing a bit and see how tactics and approaches had changed over the years.


That’s why starting in 2016 I’m going to attempt to do a weekly Flashback Friday column, analyzing what’s available for older movies. There are still some logistical decisions to be made, primarily how I’m going to choose what movie to cover each week. I’m mulling some possibilities, including doing theme months and so on, but haven’t quite hammered it out yet. But this should be a fun regular (or at least occasional) feature here on the blog that I hope will prove entertaining and informative to anyone who’s actually reading.

More to come, as they say. But look for the first MMM Flashback Friday post the first week of January and stay tuned for other updates.

PNConnect Digital Essentials in 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 1.17.19 PM

Over the course of the past year I had the chance to get more involved in PNConnect Digital Essentials, a monthly report the PNConnect team puts together covering both important news from the past month along with deeper dives into some of the bigger issues and trends that are impacting the social media and content marketing industry. So as we put the final touches on 2015 I thought I’d share them here. Some of these have become blog posts that I’ve linked to, others have just lived within the newsletter but all of them, if I do say so myself, are worth checking out along with everything else each edition. Here’s a roundup: 

February: Hasthags: Not So Super

March: Native Videos on Social Networks: Pros and Cons

April: Achieving Balance With Your Comment Policy

May: In a World of Viral Sameness, Strike Your Own Path

June: Instagram Emoji and the Importance of Voice

June: Live-Streaming Best Practices

July: It’s Not Easy Being Evergreen

August: How and Why To Create a Taxonomy For Your Social Program

October: Knowing When To Say “No” To Content

October: Medium 101

November: Snapchat 101

December: Never Tell Me The Odds: Star Wars Reboots Movie Marketing

In addition to (or in spite of) my contributions, the team that puts together this report each month includes a massive amount of great information. This is very much meant to be representative of the PNConnect team’s take on the issues of the day and I’d encourage you to check out all of them. If you have questions about the report or PNConnect in general please leave a comment and I’ll get in touch and answer whatever I can.

Picking Up The Spare: Spotlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

star wars force awakens pic 13


  • The CEO of The Boston Globe has been using the trailer to Spotlight in his presentations to advertisers to underscore the impact of the Globe’s reporting.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Movie Marketing Madness: Daddy’s Home

daddys_home_ver3“Family” is more of a fungible term now than it ever really has been. It can mean a mom, dad and any number of kids. It can mean a single parent with his or her kids. Basically take any combination of men, women, children and pets, mix them up, account for sexual orientation and gender identity and then assign some form of commitment status (married, committed etc) and you wind up with what someone will call their family.

The new comedy Daddy’s Home is about what might be termed a fairly traditional blended family. Will Ferrell plays Brad, who has married Sara (Linda Cardellini) and is now the dad to her two kids from a previous marriage. Brad is a buttoned down, responsible guy, the polar opposite of Sara’s first husband Dusty (Mark Wahlberg). When Dusty comes to visit, Brad finds himself competing for the kids’ attention in increasingly outrageous ways, with hilarity ensuing.

The Posters

daddys_homeThe first poster puts the two biggest stars (I feel bad for Cardellini) right there in a way that makes each character very clear to the audience. So Ferrell on the left is seen getting out of a sensible sedan while wearing a button down shirt and slacks and carrying a bag of groceries. Wahlberg, in contrast, is wearing a black t-shirt and sporting slicked-back hair while leaning on his motorcycle. So it’s clear we’re dealing in stereotypes about the good guy and the bad guy here. To hammer that home the copy just above the title treatment tells us it’s “Dad vs step-dad” and then tells us the movie is coming out around Christmas.

The theatrical poster finally features the full cast and shows a scene that looks like the family was about to have a Christmas card picture taken. But Wahlberg’s Dusty is horning in on the action and trying to get in on the picture, obviously pushing Ferrell’s Brad out of the way, much to Brad’s chagrin. The image very much wants to sell this as a Christmas movie in some way, even if that’s as tenuous as just having the story take place around Christmas. Also, that dog on the right side of the poster is obviously staring into the abyss of death. It looks like its soul is being destroyed by something off-camera.

The Trailers

The first trailer starts off with Brad narrating how much he’s always wanted to be a dad. But we soon find out the kids aren’t completely on board with him being part of the family, despite his optimism. Then we see Dusty is coming to visit, asking Brad for all kinds of personal information and asking him for a ride from the airport. Soon Dusty and Brad are in an outright battle for the attention and affection of the kids, with things escalating from hugs and such to buying dogs and ponies and engaging in other competitions. At each turn Brad is shown as the square and Dusty and the cool tough guy.

The trailer shows a pretty decent comedy that appears to be friendly for all ages. Ferrell is doing his best to be the straight man who gets into all sorts of bad situations by trying too hard, a role that seems to fit him pretty well.

The second trailer starts out with Brad trying to pick up Dusty at the airport, but Dusty blows him off, leading to an awkward situation later at home. The competition between the two guys ramps up (including a scene where we see this doesn’t take place around Christmas, there’s just a “Christmas in April” scene, which spoils half the other marketing elements), leading to lots of physical injuries for Brad.

This one maybe isn’t quite as good as the first since it skips over a lot of setup we need to empathize with Brad. But it still promises lots of Ferrell falling down, which I think is the main point of the movie.

Online and Social

When you pull up the movie’s official website you’re immediately given the choice between choosing Brad, who asks you to live him, or Dusty, who asks you to choose him. If you choose either one you’re taken to a collection of GIFs and other images featuring that character that you can share on the social network of your choice or reblog since the site is build on Tumblr.

Going back to the homepage there are a few content areas in a menu in the upper left.

daddys home 01

The first section there is “Videos” which just has the two trailers. The “Gallery” that’s up next has a dozen stills from the film. Finally “Partners” has links to the few companies that signed on to cross-promote the movie.

The movie had profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well where the studio shared some of the same images we saw on the site along with other news and promotional updates.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There were plenty of TV commercials created and run, most of which pulled one or two scenes from the trailers, particularly focusing on the motorcycle gag and the basketball game sequence since apparently those were considered the strongest elements to pull in the audience. Some feature narration explaining the conflict between Brad and Dusty, others just let the scenes speak for themselves.

There was online advertising done, mostly using the second poster’s key art. Online ads included a Buzzfeed sponsored post about dads and Christmas that at the end included a promotion for the film. And I’m sure there were outdoor billboards and other signage displayed that repurposed one or the other pieces of poster art.

Promotional partners included:

  • Cinnabon: Ran a sweeps giving people the chance to win free tickets to see the movie.
  • Indian Motorcycle: Offered free tickets to the movie at an event earlier in the month and I’m guessing provided the bikes Wahlberg’s character rides in the film. Wahlberg is a public fan of the brand, so I’m sure this made a lot of sense for everyone.
  • Omaha Steaks: Ran a sweeps offering not only tickets to see the movie but also free steak delivery for a year.
  • Smart & Final: Offered movie ticket cash to use on the movie with eligible purchases of qualifying products.

That’s a lot of free tickets being offered, which may or may not say something about what the studio thinks of the movie’s box-office prospects.

Media and Publicity

At the movie’s premiere Ferrell talked about how much he loves doing comedy and Wahlberg actually mentioned the same thing, despite his being a relative newcomer to the genre. And Wahlberg made some news for saying he did “about 700” pull-ups while filming one scene in particular.

daddys home 10

Ferrell and Wahlberg made the late night rounds to all the usual talk shows to promote the movie and otherwise engage in the hilarity on those shows.

Other than that the publicity angle was pretty minimal, relying mostly on the beats that came from new clips, trailers and other marketing material.


There are a couple concerns I have about the campaign. First, certain aspects of it lean pretty heavily on selling this as some sort of Christmas movie, particularly the poster art and parts of the trailers. When people see that it’s not – as I said, there’s one line in one trailer that makes it clear this is not a Christmas film – that could lead to some audience discontent. I get why they’re doing it considering the release date but it does kind of missell the film.

Second, it just kind of comes off as being a one-note campaign. “Watch Will Ferrell fall down” will only get you so far. Sure, it’s going to be appealing to some people but it also is an increasingly questionable hook on which to hang an entire marketing push. I also think there’s a raunchy underbelly to the movie that’s not on display here as the studio tries to sell it as a family film. That’s a similar concern to what I felt about the Sisters campaign and something I feel could hurt the film’s box-office, especially as word-of-mouth starts to filter out.

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Movie Marketing Madness: Concussion

concussion_ver2The NFL has had a rough couple years in terms of publicity both on- and off the field. The league has been beset by bad press, whether it’s continued coverage of life-threatening player injuries or news about players engaging in spousal abuse or other felonies, infractions which usually earn them a slap on the wrist compared to things like drug usage, which the league sees as more troublesome. The ability of fans to enjoy games guilt-free has been tested as many people realize that if the league doesn’t encourage this kind of behavior it at least isn’t serious about punishing players for engaging in it.  

This week’s new release Concussion is about what may be one of the crucial moments when the conversation about the NFL and its treatment of players began to turn. It tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith), a doctor who discovered a serious medical problem in professional football players that resulted from repeated head trauma. His findings are not well received by the league, of course, as it sees them as damaging the reputation of the game. Under pressure to drop it, Omalu instead doubles-down, insisting the league acknowledge the damage being done to players’ bodies.

The Posters

concussionThe initial poster shows a very pensive looking Smith looking somewhere off-camera as he stands in front of a wall of blurry (gotta keep copyright considerations in mind after all) football helmets. Smith’s name is at the top of the poster while the audience is told this is “Based on a true story” just above the title treatment. Just below the title is the tagline “Even legends need a hero,” setting up the idea that Smith is a champion of some sort for the underdog, likely the players. The helmets are a nice nod not just to the setting of the movie in the world of the NFL but also to the devices those players count on to keep their heads from being knocked in on a weekly basis.

The second poster goes for an extreme close-up of Smith’s face, still looking off camera with a very serious expression on his face. In the background is the hazy image of a football stadium, so it sells the story as having something to do with football while we’re told this is undoubtedly a drama. Above the title treatment we’re told “Nothing hits harder than the truth” while below it we’re reminded the movie is based on a true story.

Both are good posters and as I said, they present A Very Serious Film to the public. It’s clear Smith is the centerpiece of the film and that he is being positioned for some acting awards here. They’re meant to pop from the hallway of the theater while people are on their way to other movies by being more simple and understated than the one-sheets they’re likely surrounded by.

The Trailers

The first trailer debuted via sport writer Peter King’s Twitter feed and showed the fight Smith’s character is up for after he comes across how repeated concussions are impacting the brains of football players, including going up against the NFL itself, which obviously doesn’t want anything to tarnish the game’s image. So Omalu is pressured to drop his findings and let the issue go, something he’s unwilling to do.

It’s relatively short but gets the basic point across as it sets up the story, the conflict and provides a general idea of the characters we’ll encounter. Smith’s performance is understandably at the center of things here but we also get a sense of what drives his character.

The second trailer is quite different from the first. The first half sets up why the doctor Smith plays is doing what he’s doing as he discovers the problem plaguing football players and what drives him to continue the investigation. Then the second half gets into the NFL’s reaction to that investigation and its results, including the intimidation he’s the recipient of as more and more people find out.

Both trailers work pretty well and for largely the same reasons. It’s clear Smith gives a commanding performance surrounded by supporting players. It’s also clear it’s essentially a procedural and kind of plays like an extended episode of CSI as people gaze into microscopes, have conversations about what they just saw through microscopes and so on.

Online and Social

The official website opens by playing the second trailer. Close that and you see a variation on the second poster. There’s a menu in the upper-left corner that contains the bulk of the site’s content.

The first section under that menu is the “Trailer,” so you can skip that if you’re already rewatched it. After that is the “Story,” which just has a single paragraph worth of plot synopsis. Then “Cast & Crew” just has a list of the cast and crew without any additional information about them.

concussion pic 1

There’s a section here that links to Sony’s awards-consideration site, in case there was any doubt of the aspirations the studio has for the movie. After that there’s a section that tells the true story of Dr. Omalu and what drove him to conduct the research he did along with a link to the GQ story that inspired the movie.

The site has two calls-to-action. First is “ForThePlayers” which encourages you to film and share your own touchdown dance as well as prompts to get involved in the concussion-awareness conversation and download the CDC app to find out more. The second is “#GameChangers,” which is about sharing a story about someone in your life who has overcome adversity to achieve great things. Finally, the site wants you to buy the Leon Bridges song “So Long” which is featured in the movie.

The film had profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There were quite a few TV spots run, most of which play as mini versions of the trailer and all of which present the movie as a tense, pulse-pounding thriller more than a drama. They work but they may oversell things like car chases and other elements that I’m guessing aren’t so prevalent in the movie itself.

Some of those TV spots even aired on ESPN, despite the fact that “make the NFL angry” would seem to be something the network would like to avoid and was the big reason Bill Simmons was fired from the network. Director Landesmann confirmed later on that TV commercials had been accepted by all the networks for Thanksgiving Day games. That NFL broadcast advertising would prove so apparently successful that it was increased to become one of the top spending movies. And it would turn out that as the advertising progressed, NFL games on network television – but not the NFL’s own network – would be the movie’s biggest promotional outlet.

There was online advertising done as well, most of which used one or the other element of the poster key art and which emphasized the “based on a true story” element of the campaign.

Media and Publicity

Right after the first trailer was released a story hit that revealed Sony had made cuts to the movie explicitly for the purpose of not offending the NFL. These weren’t changes requested by the league, the story says, but changes that were pondered ahead of time for both the movie and its marketing to lessen the chance of offense being taken. The NFL smartly pivoted on this and went to the press talking about how they were going to raise awareness of player safety in the lead up to the movie and offering to work with Sony on similar programs.

Later in the year the movie was selected to appear at the American Film Institute’s showcase festival, a nice placement for a movie like this and a venue for it to pick up some good buzz, including Smith as a potential awards contender. That would continue to come up time and time again.

concussion pic 3

One of the central themes of the campaign in the press would continue to be how the movie related to the NFL and what the league’s reaction to it was and would be. Smith shared how as much as he loves football this felt like an important story to tell. Omalu – the real doctor that inspired the story – also did a few interviews, including this one where he said he hoped the NFL would see the movie as part of a constructive dialogue, not an overt attack. But the controversy of the league’s actions back when Omalu was first revealing his study certainly put it at odds with the NFL and team owners, regardless of how it’s downplayed in the press. Jeanne Marie Laskas, who wrote the book the movie is also based on, would be pulled into the publicity cycle as well, talking about how the story is similar to how whistleblowers, doctors and public advocates took on the tobacco industry decades ago.

Director Peter Landesman would do the rounds in addition to Smith, talking about how he came to discover the story, how he brought Smith aboard the project and more. He’d also talk more about an earlier topic, again dismissing any rumors or reports that he or the studio made cuts to the movie in an effort to appease the NFL. Closer to release there was a huge feature that tackled (sorry) everything from the controversy surrounding the NFL’s handling of player head injuries to how Smith got involved with the project and lots more.


As I’ve said repeatedly above, Smith is the focal point of the campaign, which means the success of the movie will largely live and die on people’s tolerance of him. Not to say that’s going to be a detriment to a great extent or that Smith is a liability, but if anyone out there just isn’t a fan of the actor then they’re probably not going to be on-board for this movie. That’s also the case of anyone who feels the NFL can do no wrong and they’re not going to pay their hard-earned money to see the liberals in Hollywood tear down an American institution.

I’m concerned that the movie is in actually a lot more of a steady procedural than it is a pulse-pounding thriller, which is how much of the campaign sells it. There’s a lot of emphasis given to shots of Smith being threatened, of something menacing happening in the rear-view mirror of a car, of a car on fire on the side of the road and so on. It wants to emphasize the stakes as being very dramatic whereas my guess is the movie is more about three people talking in a room followed by five people talking in a room followed by science stuff. So there may be some issues when people find out they’re not watching Jason Bourne, M.E. and are instead there for 12 Pages Of Why the N.F.L. Is Negligent, Legally Speaking.

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Movie Marketing Madness: The Hateful Eight

hateful eight poster 4There are few directors working today who have worked in as many genres as Quentin Tarantino. He’s done straight-up crime films like Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown, homages to kung-fu movies like Kill Bill, late-night B-movies like Death Proof, war movies like Inglorious Basterds and westerns like Django Unchained. He’s never made any attempt to hide he’s a fan of certain types of movies – indeed it’s part of his personal brand and a big aspect of the media narrative around him – and has his roots in the kind of obscure movies he’d discover while working at a video store. If he dabbles it’s not because he’s searching for something, it’s because now he wants to pay tribute to *this* kind of movie he loves.

Tarantino is back with The Hateful Eight, another movie that’s roughly in the “Western” genre. John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is a bounty hunter on his way to collect his due after capturing Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a killer with a price on her head. After meeting up with two other bounty hunters on the road they’re forced to seek shelter overnight in a stagecoach shop. But they’re not alone there and everyone else also in for the night has their own agenda and plenty of secrets, many of which will become clear as time passes and everyone acts according to their own motivations.  

The Posters

The first poster is so Tarantino it’s only marginally necessary to have the director’s name on the poster. It’s a stark while image that shows a old-fashioned wagon with blood trailing behind it. The director’s name appears at the top while the title treatment is at the bottom alongside mention of the special Super CinemaScope engagements the movie is getting. It looks like a pulp fiction (sorry) cover that hints at not just the setting but also the likely outcome for at least one or two of the film’s characters.

The next poster does more to show that this is an ensemble cast, though none of those cast are seen or even named. We see a woman being led up a hill by someone with a gun toward a cabin of some sort, blood sprinkled among the footprints they’re leaving and a group of other people waiting outside the cabin. With the exception of the cabin itself it’s all blue and while as befits an outdoor winter picture. Tarantino’s name is somewhat diminished here but this time below the title treatment there’s the copy “No one comes up here without a damn good reason.”

A series of character one-sheets was up next, with six of the eight main characters getting their own posters while Russell and Leigh appear together, which is appropriate considering their shackled to each other. Each one sets the character not only against a snow-covered mountain-top range but also a series of red, blood-like hashmarks showing where they are in the count. Each one not only promotes the movie as coming from Tarantino but also has the actor’s name, the name of their character and what that character’s “role” is. So Leigh is “The Prisoner,” Michael Madsen is “The Cow Puncher” and so on.

The theatrical poster hit about a month prior to release and didn’t show much but did focus on everyone everyone moving toward the cabin where much of the action takes place. “No one comes here without a damn good reason” the copy at the top declares, making it clear this is not a random gathering of people but something that’s very purposeful. The cast list and photos are at the bottom. Again, it’s pretty minimal without much going on, but there’s a lot of story that’s hinted at here.

The Trailers

The teaser trailer starts out by showing the stagecoach carrying Russell and Leigh coming across Jackson, who provides some helpful characterization. When they get to the lodge Russell introduces himself and his charge to the rest of the people there and makes clear his intentions. But it quickly becomes clear that not everyone there is on the up-and-up, which means we and they are in for a night of sleeping with one eye open and trying to discern everyone’s true motivations.

The trailer promises a very Tarantino-like experience that involves snappy dialogue, plenty of violence and other earmarks of the director. It is a teaser in that it doesn’t show any more than it absolutely needs to, which is just enough to get people interested, particularly if they’re already fans of the director. I’m also convinced Leigh’s motion where she pretends to hang while Russell is explaining the situation should in and of itself earn her an Academy Award nomination.

The second trailer starts out with Jackson asking what drives a man to go out in a blizzard just to kill someone. Then we get a bunch of fast cuts of various action sans context before we see Russell’s character enter the house where he’s going to be spending the night, which leads to the character cards that introduce us to the various personalities that he’ll be bunking with and keeping his bounty safe from. After that it’s all action as it becomes clear that keeping her safe isn’t exactly going to be an easy proposition.

It’s a great trailer that sets up the story in a very unique way and provides decent introductions to most, if not all the cast. Even if Tarantino’s name weren’t all over the trailer, anyone with a passing familiarity with the director would be able to pick it out as one of his.

Online and Social

When you open the official website you see a recreation of the key art from the theatrical poster, but with the added element of animated snow coming down on the scene. There are couple different ways to navigate the site so first we’ll focus on the menu that opens up when you click the hashmarks in the upper right-hand corner of the page.

The first section there is “Characters,” which gives you a picture of each of the major character/actors and when you click on that image it opens up to a career bio of that actor.

“Roashow” has information on where and when the movie is playing in Super 70 format along with an explanation as to the mindset of doing so, which is to recreate some of the “event” feeling around a movie’s release that accompanied films in the 50s and 60s when widescreen presentation was first taking off.



You can get a decent synopsis of the film’s plot in “Story.” You can find out everything you want to know about the film’s behind-the-scenes crew in the “Filmmakers” section, which reads like a press release from about six months ago, which is likely when the site really went live. Finally there’s a “12 Days Sweepstakes” you can enter if you so choose.

If you go back to the homepage you can find more content by just scrolling down the page.

First up is the official trailer, which isn’t labeled but is hidden in the red strip featuring Jackson’s face that runs across the page. Then there’s another prompt to find out more about the roadshow screenings.

Then there’s a big section of links to off-site news, including cast interviews, features on Tarantino and lots more. This is the second site I’ve seen recently that features a full section rounding up news like this and I hope it becomes a trend. There are also character banners here that, if you click them, take you to the same information on the actor that was accessible above.

There were also profiles for the movie on Twitter and Facebook.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The first TV spot for the movie showed a lot more than the trailers, hinting at a secret the prisoner has that will impact everyone. The narration is a bit heavy-handed (as is most narration) but it’s clear this is a Tarantino movie from the visuals, the dialogue and everything else. More TV spots like this would follow, some of which would really emphasize the 70mm roadshow.

There was some online advertising done too, much of which featured the various poster art and highlighted not only the general release date but also again made a big deal about the roadshow engagements, signalling that as something the studio wants everyone to know about.

Media and Publicity

The early news about the movie was not great. The script for the movie leaked in early 2014 and Tarantino not only threatened legal action against the sites that posted it but also threw up his hands and announced that because of the leak he would no longer proceed with the movie. He obviously changed his mind a few months later after organizing a table read featuring some of the same cast members that would go on to be in the movie.

As the official publicity cycle got into full gear news broke that Tarantino was doing some interesting stuff around distribution. For one, he announced he was doing a roadshow of the film, taking it around and doing Q&As with a special 70mm version that was a few minutes longer than the theatrical cut. The idea being, it seems, that not only does 70mm allow for a slightly different experience but also that if someone bought a premium ticket to an event they should get a unique cut of the movie.

Later on the cast would be singled out for the Hollywood Ensemble Award at the Hollywood Film Awards, one of the first events to kick off awards season in the film industry. The size of the cast would be a constant theme of the publicity campaign, so much so that it necessitated a guide like this to whom all the characters were.

hateful_eight pic 2

Unfortunately not all the press good. After Tarantino made comments at a Black Lives Matter rally that were misconstrued as calling all police officers murderers (he said no such thing, he just said those who kill people without good cause are bad cops) police unions and other organizations around the country joined a boycott of the movie.

Tarantino wrote a comic book-like early look at the characters from the movie.

Just a couple weeks out from release Variety ran a huge feature that covered the whole cast but focused on the long-standing working relationship between Tarantino and Jackson, who have made a number of movies together at this point. That story also got into Tarantino’s working process, his decision to release the movie on 70mm and lots more. 

At the movie’s premiere the cast would talk about collaborating with Tarantino and how much they all trust him to not only come in with fully-formed characters for them to explore but to do all kinds of other supporting research into time periods and more material that can help inform their performances.

It’s interesting to me that much of the publicity for the film focused on the road show and the technical aspects of that production and not on the film itself. That could speak to something about the movie itself or it could be indicative of the climate the film industry is operating in right now, particularly around distribution and how to incentivize the theater-going experience.


Tarantino’s name is obviously all over this campaign, from the site to the trailers to the posters. With a director of his caliber and with his name recognition that’s not surprising since that name recognition is going to draw a fair percentage of the audience to the movie in and of itself. But as I said a couple times above, those fans are so familiar with his work the marketing could likely remove his name completely and they’d still be able to pick this out as coming from his pen and eye.

Outside of that the campaign promises a violent movie that features some great characters working to either conceal or reveal a mystery that will touch all of those character’s agendas and motivations. We get the general idea of the film’s plot – or at least it’s easy to assume we get it – from the trailers but there’s lots more that’s hinted at being just below the surface of what’s on display. It’s easy to assume that we’ll be getting a standard Tarantino movie here but the director always has at least one or two surprises he pulls out that I’m guessing the campaign here doesn’t even hint at.

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10 Years of Lazy Sunday

New from me on Voce Nation:

People like me argued at the time that while we absolutely understood NBC’s desire to protect its intellectual property and got that they felt online views would cannibalize TV ratings (why watch it on TV now if you can catch it online in the morning?), the clip’s popularity was doing more for SNL than anything had for years. People were talking about it and sharing the clip and were generally excited for what the show was doing by embracing these “digital” videos. Better to use clips like this to promote the larger show than risk the ill will of the internet by taking away something it was clearly enjoying.

Source: Lazy Sunday and How Media’s Approach to Video Has Changed « Voce Communications

Movie Marketing Madness: Joy

joyThere’s a strong belief in America that anyone can accomplish anything. Usually this is put forward in the context bettering one’s self or rising above one’s given circumstances. We can debate how realistic that may or may not be, but there are enough stories out there about how people have either worked hard to become a success or had some form of incredible big idea – or flat out luck – to make it a narrative that persists.

The new movie Joy is about just such a narrative. Based on a true story, the movie stars Jennifer Lawrence as the titular character, a woman who has struggled with problems in family relationships, romantic relationships and life in general. But one day she creates something that not only brings her great success, which impacts all of those relationships, but also the kind of personal satisfaction and power that she’s always sought. The movie reunites Lawrence with Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell as well as co-stars Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro.

The Posters

The movie’s one poster puts the focus, unsurprisingly, on Lawrence. She’s shown alone on the one-sheet looking up into the sky of falling snow while wearing sunglasses and a leather jacket, which are meant to give her kind of an attitude. The cast list appears at the top while below it we’re reminded of some of Russell’s recent directorial efforts, including the two previous collaborations with the stars of this movie. At the bottom we’re told the movie is coming out on Christmas, a message that’s emphasized by the falling snow.

It’s a good poster that, mostly through the outfit Lawrence is wearing, tries to convey something about the character and the movie, but there’s not a lot to go on. The inclusion of snow on the poster seems like it’s trying to sell this as an outright Christmas movie, which isn’t supported by anything else about the campaign but which makes for a memorable visual if you see this online or in the theater hallway on your way to another movie.

The Trailers

The teaser trailer starts off with a young girl being told she’s going to grow up to be a strong woman. We cut to shots of Joy living her life, hanging out with friends, getting married, putting her daughter to bed and more while the narration continues. Then we see Joy’s life isn’t all that great with various scenes showing the rest of her family, a few shots of her sketching something (her mop invention), getting arrested and more, all while “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” plays. The spot ends with Joy firing a shotgun at something offscreen before she stops and finally introduces herself.

There’s very little dialogue here outside of the woman who is telling Joy what’s going to happen to her in her life, but we’re definitely able to get a sense of the movie and figure out that we’re going to be watching the ups and downs of Joy’s life. She’s presented as a no-nonsense woman who overcomes a lot of stuff but keeps her sense of self-worth intact.

The official theatrical trailer skips some of the setup and cuts straight to Lawrence’s character imparting some hard advice to her daughter before it cuts back to more of her story, from her marriage to her career and more. The focus here is on Joy’s independence and how hard she’s worked to get what she has

This one feels a lot tighter and more solidly constructed than the first one, giving a lot more detail into Joy’s character and showing off the core of the story much more clearly than the previous trailer.

Online and Social

The official website for the movie is a one-page site but has some cool stuff going on. At the top of the page, just below the title and a picture of Lawrence, are buttons prompting you to Watch the Trailer or connect with the movie on Facebook or Twitter. Below that there’s a prompt to get tickets now.

The first actual section here is “Videos” which has both trailers, a bunch of the TV spots and a featurette with Lawrence. Then the “About” section has a decent synopsis as well as cast and crew credits.


You can see the one-sheet in the “Poster” section, which is followed by a prompt to sign-up for email alerts. The “Gallery” has nine stills from the movie you can scroll through. The site pulls in some of the movie’s Twitter posts in the “Social Updates” section with prompts to view more on Facebook or Twitter if you so choose.

Two very interesting sections finish the site. “News & Press” pulls in headlines and links to some of the stories in the press about the movie. And then there’s a section of “Related Movies” that shows the audience some other Fox films they may enjoy.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots would run that played with much more of a sense of whimsy than the trailers did. They show the dire situation Joy is in with debt, pressures of family who don’t get along and all that before showing she gets herself out of those situations with her big idea, which isn’t shown but which we do see is kind of a game-changer.

There was some online advertising done as well, most of it using either the one-sheet or another image of Lawrence. No promotional partners here, which isn’t surprising.

Media and Publicity

Lawrence would make the rounds in the press and via, talking about the movie while also promoting the latest Hunger Games movie.

Russell would also get a chance in the press, which is good since he just had the one movie to promote and not two. He talked about how this was his first female-centric movie as well as what it was like to work with a very similar group of actors time and again and more.

Lawrence’s previous comments about the gender pay gap in Hollywood would continue to resonate as she was asked about it time and again, as if the press was waiting for her to recant and disavow those comments. And her relationships in general would keep coming up in a way that it just doesn’t for male stars.  

Entertainment Weekly named Lawrence their Entertainer of the Year, an award that was ostensibly tied to The Hunger Games finale but which also provided a decent boost for Joy.


After The Hunger Games was released the publicity campaign really kicked into high gear, with multiple interviews and more going out within days. That was both a result of likely needing to wait until the other movie’s cycle was finished and the desire to ride the wave of the last few stories about the finale of Lawrence’s best-known franchise.

That renewed push would focus primarily around a cast Q&A where Russell talked about making a movie with a female protagonist as the main character – something he hadn’t done before – the challenges of Lawrence playing a character over so much of her life and more. Lawrence would also tell Russell she was down for anything he was doing since she’s enjoyed working with him so much, as evidence by this being their third collaboration. DeNiro talked about the pleasure of being part of Russell’s regular troupe, something that allows him to gain some experience with the actors he’s working with over time.

The screening of the movie that preceded the Q&A also allowed some critics and speculators to point out that this is absolutely Lawrence’s movie, something that could have awards implications as the year winds down.

Not all of the press would focus on Lawrence, though, as this story turned to the working relationship between Russell and Cooper and how they too have made three movies together. That theme would continue in stories like this that focused on how these four are reuniting once again.


How much this campaign works for you will, I’m thinking, depend greatly on not only your perspective of Jennifer Lawrence and her body of work but also your awareness and fondness for the previous movies she, Cooper and DeNiro have made with David O. Russell. That reunion between the director and those actors is the centerpiece of the campaign as a way to not only appeal to Lawrence’s legion of fans (both those who came to her after Winter’s Bone and those who are more Hunger Games-oriented) as well as the crowd that is more into discussing talent and other industry-centric topics.

Outside of that the campaign presents a movie that’s focused on a “give zero fucks” woman who isn’t afraid to fall in love even if that someone may not be a guy everyone approves of. But at a time when strong, independent women who are in control of their own lives and fate are a hot topic in all aspects of culture and media this movie could strike at a great time, and assuming the campaign has reflected and sold the movie accurately. There’s a lot to like here, even if some of the choices the campaign makes are a bit dodgy, such as the lack of dialogue on display in most of the trailers. Still, a solid effort for what looks like an entertaining film.

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