Movie Marketing Madness: Sisters

sisters_ver3Childhood is basically the time before you are an adult and have regrets about the things you either did or didn’t do as a child. That might be an overly-pessimistic view, but hey, that’s my truth. Whether or not that applies to you and your circumstance, it’s likely universally true that at least occasionally you look back at your early years and think that hey, I wish that X had happened or I wish I hadn’t done something else. Having a sibling often complicates that because maybe they had opportunities you didn’t.

The new movie Sisters is about the intersection of all that. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler play Kate and Maura, respectively, grown sisters (natch) who find out that their parents are selling their childhood home without getting their approval first. Told to clean out their stuff before the sale, Kate realizes Maura never had her own blow-out party in the house and so they decide to rectify that situation. That leads to Maura trying to get back into romance after her divorce and all sorts of other other awkwardness as they encounter old friends (and frenemies) and otherwise trip down memory lane.

The Posters

sistersThe first poster is primarily focused on making sure we know that Fey and Poehler are in a movie together. It just shows the two of them reading what look to be childhood journals while relaxing together in the bathtub. Outside the tub are boxes of their stuff, so we get hints about the story involving moving or rooting around in memories in some way.

The second poster doesn’t stray too far from that, showing big head shots of Fey and Poehler along the right with their names and the movie’s title along the left. there’s not a whole lot to it, so someone obviously feels it’s not worth trying to hard to explain the story and that it’s better to just focus on the stars. That’s hard to argue with considering the talent of the two of them but it’s still a deliberate choice that exposes what the studio feels are the movie’s strongest selling point.

The Trailers

We quickly meet the titular sisters in the first trailer, which debuted on “The Tonight Show,” and get a sense of who they are. Fey and Poehler meet up and we get labels for each one. We also see them being very awkward around a local guy before they find out their childhood home has been sold. Kate quickly convinces Maura they need to have one last wild party. But that party winds up getting quickly out of hand, including Maura’s super-awkward seduction of James that ends very badly for him.

The substantial comedic skills of both Poehler and Fey are absolutely on display here, which is the primary point of this trailer. The timing and beats of both actors will be immediately familiar to fans of theirs and provide a strong incentive for those fans to turn out for the movie.

Online and Social

The official website opens with a recreation of the first poster, with Fey and Poehler in the tub together. Behind that, though, is a slider that allows you to cycle through various videos, from the trailer to a TV spot to more.

“About” has a paragraph worth of synopsis about the movie’s story. There are four stills from the movie in the “Gallery” and the same four videos we saw on the homepage in the “Videos” section.

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If you go back to the homepage and scroll down there are a collection of GIFs and meme-like images that have been created to promote the movie by encouraging sharing by the Tumblr audience since that’s where the site is hosted.

There were profiles for the movie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where the studio shared updates, including some of those graphics and other videos.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There were TV spots run for the movie that had most of the same beats as the trailer but since there was way less running time to fit everything into it relies on narration to explain that these sisters are trying to throw a wild party and so on. It’s…OK but the narration doesn’t really work and actually kind of gets in the way of things.

There was also a bit of online advertising done that I saw around the web.

Media and Publicity

Considering the two stars’ comedic roots, it’s not surprising at all that their publicity tour for the movie would include a stint co-hosting Saturday Night Live together.

Much of the publicity would focus on the unique comedic bond the two stars share, forged in their time at SNL and nurtured over the years through mutual admiration, friendship and commitment to doing work they feel is quality and important. That story also covered the movie’s origin as the real-life diary of the screenwriter, who also did time as a writer on SNL.

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It’s *kind of* a trailer, but this “Farce Awakens” video is really just a fun nod to the movie’s box-office competition and a reminder that it doesn’t have to be a one-or-the-other choice and you can, as it points out, see them both. Mostly this was about getting people who had devoted all of their available pop culture attention to Star Wars to also cover this movie by creating some kind of tie-in, or at least an acknowledgement of its place on the calendar.

The whole cast would talk closer to release about how wonderful it was to work together and how easily they all said “yes” to the project, largely because of the people involved that opportunity to collaborate with friends and colleagues they respected and liked.

Overall

It’s a solid campaign. There’s nothing that’s going to knock anyone’s socks off, but it sets itself up nicely as counter-programming for people who either have no interest in this week’s other big release or who are looking for something *else* to watch with some time they have off over the holidays.

The marketing sets this up as a middle-of-the-road comedy with some big gags, but I’m guessing this goes a little bit harder in the paint than the trailers in particular would have the audience think. The movie is rated R, after all, but there’s little in the campaign that would explain why. So I’m thinking there are a lot of gags that are a bit more outrageous than what’s shown here. I’m not sure why that might be, but my strongest guess is that that R-rated comedies haven’t fared well at the box office recently, so maybe the studio wanted to downplay that a bit. That could lead to some audience, confusion, though. Let’s see how this plays out.

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