The Magic of Cubs Twitter

cubs logo

My latest on Voce Nation:

Full squad workouts began last week in Mesa, AZ, as Chicago’s National League Ball Club – the Cubs, in case you’re unfamiliar – begin Spring Training along with the rest of the league. And it looks like they’re already in midseason form.To be clear, I’m talking about the @Cubs Twitter account, not the team itself, though they’re looking pretty good as well.Now let’s be clear: After last year’s amazing roller coaster ride of a season, Cubs fans like myself are full of hope. Traditionally giving a Cubs fan hope is like telling a dog it’s time for a walk then lying down and taking a nap: It’s just mean and you’re probably going to be cleaning up a mess in the downstairs hallway when you wake up. But…last year, man. Yeah….last year.

Source: It’s Baseball – and Twitter – Season on Chicago’s North Side « Voce Communications

After the Campaign: Freeheld

freeheld pic 2

In my campaign review for Freeheld I wrote:

But there is plenty of room in the campaign for Moore and Page to shine, which is the larger point for moviegoers of all stripes. Yes, this might be a “niche” film in the same way any movie with a societal message is. So it’s going to be the promise of tour-de-force performances that’s going to bring in the masses. Unfortunately I think the focus on the legal nature of the story gives short shrift to those performances and some general audience moviegoers may be turned off by what is seen as a “preachy” movie. To be clear, I don’t feel that way but that’s my opinion of how the marketing will be received by the general public.

Having seen the movie now I’m of mixed opinions. I don’t think the marketing missold the movie but I do think it didn’t do a very good job of selling what I think are the two halves of the movie as a whole product. The first half is very much the relationship drama I was looking for and which I felt the campaign was right in focusing on. But the second half is all about the legal fight and the drive to change public policy.

But what the campaign did sell was the overall emotional heft of the movie. It was right in putting the focus on Moore’s performance, which may not be her best but even her at 78% is twice as good as many other actresses at 100%. If anything it gave short shrift to Page, who’s asked to do a lot of the heavy lifting emotionally since it’s on her to react to everything that’s going on around her.

Movie Marketing Madness: Desierto

desiertoWant to get Movie Marketing Madness via email? Sign up here. Then connect with MMM on Twitter and Facebook.

We are at an…interesting moment in the debate about immigration in the U.S. For years it’s clearly been an issue that needs to be addressed in some way or another since the tide shifted from those coming from across the Atlantic Ocean to those coming over the country’s southern border. Without getting into the actual politics of this, the opinions run the gamut from “yeah, let them in legally” to “we need to build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it” and, as usual, the right answer likely lies somewhere in-between the extremes.

This week’s new movie Desierto is a drama that uses illegal immigration as the setting for a personal, intimate thriller. Gael García Bernal is Moises, someone trying to come over the border with a group of others in an effort to reunite with his son. But the group he’s part of has the bad luck of crossing in an area patrolled by Sam (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a vigilante who’s not part of any actual law enforcement group but has taken it upon himself to shoot anyone he deems to be breaking the law by trying to enter the country.

The Posters

The one-sheet works hard to establish the setting for the story and create some allure in the eyes of movie fans. The main image is just a rocky, barren landscape with desert brush in the foreground. Along the ridge a sole figure is walking away from the camera so we’re very clearly told there’s going to be a survivalist aspect to the story.

Almost as big as the title treatment is the note that the movie comes “From the visionary filmmakers that brought you Grafity,” an effort to sell the audience on the movie having at least some prestige pedigree as opposed to it being just kind of a March cast-off.

The Trailers

We start out in the trailer by meeting a group of immigrants moving across the Mexican/U.S. border, focusing on one father who’s on his way to see his son. Soon we see there’s a man shooting at the group, seeming just for the fun of it. From there it’s a chase between the armed hunter and a pair of immigrants who are trying to survive not just him but also the wildness of the desert and everything that’s there. It’s clear, particularly from the montage toward the end, there will be twists and turns and that it doesn’t really turn out well for everyone, which isn’t surprising.

It’s a good trailer that promises a tight tale of survival. It’s not clear at all from the trailer whether or not the movie gets into the politics behind what Morgan’s hunter is doing or if it stays focused on the story of hunting – and being hunted – without some big political speechifying.

Online and Social

The movie’s official website is pretty simple and sparse but it has what it needs to try and sell it without putting a ton of unnecessary effort into things. All you’ll find there is the trailer, a synopsis and cast list in the “About the Film” section and a “Gallery” that just has two images in it. There appears to have been similarly minimal effort put into the movie’s Facebook page as well as the Twitter and Instagram profiles, all of which feature a half-dozen or fewer posts.


Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nada that I’ve come across.

Media and Publicity

The movie made its debut at last year’s Toronto Film Festival where it got decent reviews and some word-of-mouth from that, but that’s about it. It came up a bit when Cuaron was announced as the writer and director of an updated version of Zorro, but that’s about as close as it came to a big press push.



The movie is certainly timely, which makes the lack of a bigger press push all the more surprising. This is a big topic in much of the media and the larger societal conversations as the U.S. goes through what could charitably described as a contentious presidential campaign. And it certainly appears that, while the core of the story is a stalker-type thriller, the movie has a strong point of view on the topic of immigration.

I wasn’t impressed by the trailer the first time I saw it but repeated viewings made the movie seem more attractive. The campaign, which isn’t full-throated by any regard, sells a movie that tries to boil down an issue that’s generated so much controversy to a more human one by presenting an extreme, taking the fiery rhetoric of one side of the argument and presenting it’s ultimate fantasy of a lone right-thinking individual and contrasting it with the other extreme, a man who just wants to bring his family back together. It looks like it could be compelling, presuming these argument analog character don’t devolve into caricature.

Click here to get more Movie Marketing Madness. Then connect with MMM on Twitter and Facebook.

That Deadpool Back-and-Forth Could Only Happen on Twitter

Twitter continues, as a company, to suffer under the delusion that it’s a mass-audience tool. We’re told over and over again that it’s “too complicated” and difficult for people to get their heads around, which is why new user acquisition is so stagnant and the company keeps tripping over itself to add or change features to appeal more to that group. I call this a delusion because not only is Twitter easy to understand (certainly easier than Snapchat) but because there’s so much emphasis on following Big Media that few people see the value Twitter has as a conversation facilitator.

Case in point, the back-and-forth from a few days ago, when actor Chris Evans praised Deadpool. That lead to a response from Ryan Reynolds, both of which then caused a tweet from Robert Downey Jr. calling them both out. It was a fun bit of playful teasing between three of Hollywood’s biggest stars, all of whom are anchoring their own super hero franchises. And it’s hard to imagine that happening anywhere but Twitter.


That’s because it’s so hard to have these kind of real-time conversations on Facebook. The News Feed is designed to, if not discourage, at least make this sort of thing difficult. If you’re following X person on Facebook there’s only a small chance (unless you’re only friends with five people) you’ll see their updates on a regular basis. And when you do it might be a couple days before their post appears. Even Instagram isn’t great because it starts out with the first person putting more on the table – a photo – than the respondents are capable of.

(Side note: That you can’t respond to a photo on Instagram with a photo comment suddenly feels like a big missing feature. More on that later.)

This is where Kanye and Amber Rose get into smack talk about his preferences in bed. It’s where Neil Degrasse Tyson gets into a slap fight with a rapper over whether the earth is flat or not. If you’re looking for the value of Twitter, this is it, that there are organic conversations that aren’t happening anywhere else.

Movie Marketing Madness Recap: 2/26/16 New Releases

Eddie The Eagle

There’s nothing overtly or especially notable about the campaign Fox has put together here. It’s good and hits many of the beats one would expect for an inspirational true story like this but it never, if you’ll excuse the expression, soars in any way. It understandably relies on the charm of Jackman and the idea that we’ll find Eddie’s story to be personal and meaningful to us but never does all that much to reinforce that in a substantial way. Particularly missing from the campaign, I feel, is any real nod toward the actual events. Where’s the spotlighting of actual footage of Eddie competing or pics of the real athlete and coach for us to explore along with a history of the ‘88 Olympics? That would have done more, I think, to create a real emotional connection in the audience than repeated GIFs or a TV spot starring Drew Brees.

eddie the eagle pic 1

Gods of Egypt

The trailers set up a story that’s not only hard to follow but seems to be be largely inconsequential to the movie itself. Very little of who all these beautiful white people jumping around Egypt in their shiny finery are or what their motivations can be divined through the vast majority of the campaign. The website has some good information but the trailers are largely useless in this regard. They can’t even be bothered to provide the character’s names. All that adds up to a campaign that’s only interested in selling the spectacle – which doesn’t even look all that great compared to some of Hollywood’s more recent efforts (or even the original Jurassic Park) – and not the characters we’re theoretically supposed to care about. It’s a superficial, empty campaign that looks to be selling a superficial, empty movie.

gods of egypt pic 3

Jack Of The Red Hearts

What campaign there is is good and sells a very emotional movie, particularly for anyone who might be dealing with a special-needs child or family member. It looks earnest, but with a humor that is born mostly of the characters needing to laugh at things as a coping mechanism. This isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off but it seems, based on the marketing, the point is to do something to take away some of the stigma of autism and, if so, it may do that fairly well.

jack-of-the-red-hearts pic 3

Triple 9

Did I mention that the campaign is trying to sell a sense of realistic grit and violence? Because that’s the overall theme that’s hard to miss here. The marketing practically has the smell of gunpowder coming off it. It really wants you to feel the moral compromises that are being made in the name of expediency, wealth and safety and wants you to feel the danger that’s putting everyone in. In fairness in service of that goal it creates a campaign that has a very nice sense of brand consistency, with that red and black motif permeating all the elements of the push that certainly make it recognizable.

triple 9 pic 3


Could Facebook Reactions Become An Ad Unit?

This post from Wired on how advertisers are (at least so far) thrilled and excited about the potential for Facebook Reactions to provide more granular data on how people are interacting with ads is an interesting read. It hits one of the points I also mentioned in my Voce Nation post the other day, which is that while right now all these new options aren’t more finely impacting the News Feed they will, though to what extent remains to be seen.

It also got me thinking there’s a whole other road that Facebook could go down: Sponsored Reactions.


Imagine if these were an available ad unit. Warner Bros. could create a “Serious Batman” emoji that was available for a limited time around the release of Batman v Superman. A phone company could buy a “Happy Android” emoji in advance of the release of a new device. Snapchat’s sponsored geofilters have shown there’s a lot of demand in the new “ad as feature” paradigm, where companies sponsor some new functionality or limited-time feature within the social apps people are using on a regular basis. That kind of thing is not only already in place on Snapchat but also Twitter, where Sponsored Emojis are available for a cool $1m, though that spend also gets you other ad placement.

Facebook has shown a willingness to turn just about everything else on its network into an ad unit. While video ads may be the cash cow for now it’s not hard to imagine a wide range of companies wouldn’t leap at the chance to sponsor a limited-time emoji reaction. And it’s hard to believe that with the success of Snapchat’s sponsored geofilters that Facebook hasn’t introduced something similar on Instagram, where they could easily sell sponsored overlays that add a watermark or other image to the image you’re sharing. Think about the possibilities for Marvel/Disney, who could offer a choice between Captain America or Iron Man that could be added to your photo so you can show your allegiance to Team Cap or Team Tony leading up to Captain America: Civil War.

Expect more and more ads as features to pop up on social networks in the very near future. Snapchat’s success in this regard and the desire by these networks to continue to mine their user base for ad revenue make this an area that’s ripe for growth.

Picking Up the Spare: Deadpool



  • Chris Kyriacou at Social Media Today says the campaign was better than the movie itself because it just killed with creativity and originality, which helped it stick out from the crowd.
  • A similar note was shared by my Porter Novelli colleague Shelley Neoeldechen, who does her own little recap of the high points from the film’s campaign.

MMM Flashback Friday: The Graduate

the-graduate-posterWhen I think of popular culture that has become kind of a “must experience” touchstone for young men – not boys, but young men – there are two that come to mind: Catcher In The Rye and The Graduate. The latter, written by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry and directed by Mike Nichols, the movie tells the story of young Ben Braddock. Braddock (Dustin Hoffman)  has just graduated from college and, feeling a bit aimless, begins an affair with the older and married Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). Eventually the affair ends but Braddock soon finds himself in love with her daughter Elaine (Katherine Ross), creating one of cinema’s more memorable uncomfortable romantic situations.  Now the movie is getting a new Criterion Collection edition just shy of its 50th anniversary, so I felt it was a good time to revisit the film’s marketing.

The movie’s one-sheet has become a classic of the form for how it conveyed so much of the story in such a seemingly simple image as well as just the overall design sense. The producing credits appear at the top and the title treatment at the bottom along with the acting and directing credits. In the middle is what amounts to a still from the movie, with Hoffman standing in the background looking at a woman’s leg that’s either pulling on or taking off a stocking. Either way, the look on Hoffman’s face conveys a sense of powerlessness and confusion, like he’s not quite sure what to make of the situation happening in front of him. That’s reinforced by the copy off the right that says “This is Benjamin. He’s a little worried about his future.

There are other versions of this key art but this is the main one and the one that’s become the most iconic. And it’s notable for just how simple and straightforward it is. It’s mostly white space and the only color is in the credits, which heightens the starkness of the emotions that are being conveyed. And Hoffman’s face tells you so much about the character, that he’s kind of clueless and certainly doesn’t have much “go get ’em” attitude that it instantly feels familiar.

Now I said the picture only “amounts to a still” from the movie. That’s because a couple years ago actress Linda Gray made waves for claiming – or revealing – it’s her leg on the poster and not Bancroft’s. That shattered much of the myth around the poster and the movie as a whole by basically saying the marketers pulled a double switch on the audience. Either way, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a nice leg.

Moving on to the trailer, it starts out with the sounds of Simon & Garfunkel, which is quickly interrupted as we join Ben at his graduation party, where he’s being assaulted by one person after another who wants to know what he’s going to do with his life now that he’s done with college. Soon he’s being seduced by Mrs. Robinson and the two are shown in various stages of their romance, almost all of which involve Benjamin being very awkward and not quite knowing what to do with himself. It’s clear, though, that she has all the power. Later on we see he’s actually in love with Elaine, but that relationship isn’t without its troubles either, including the fact that she’s getting married to someone else. The trailer ends with Benjamin barging in on Elaine’s wedding, something no one is very happy with.

It’s not hard to see, in retrospect, why this is such an iconic role for Hoffman and such an iconic movie. The trailer lays out 75% of the movie’s major story beats, from Braddock’s first interaction with Mrs. Robinson through his arrival at Elaine’s wedding. It’s clearly his movie here and he forms the emotional center of the story. Also notable is just how prevalent the various tunes from Simon & Garfunkel are here. They really were a key selling point for the marketing here as their songs are used to underscore the emotions that are on display and provide some grounding for them.

It’s also a long trailer, running about three and a half minutes, a full minute longer than most modern trailers.That allows for a bit more footage to be shared, but the final 45 seconds or so are just the credits, including another prominent placement of Simon & Garfunkel.

What this campaign is selling is mostly uncomfortableness, an uncertainty about life and your place in it. Benjamin isn’t comfortable discussing his future, he’s not comfortable in his relationship with Mrs. Robinson. The only thing we see him actually be assertive about is his love for Elaine. Hoffman plays that perfectly, which is part of why this movie has gone on to become the classic it is.


Social Oscar Contenders

A couple of stories have hit in the last couple days about how this year’s Oscar contending movies are doing on social networks. Since I’m not going to have time to write up my own take I’m adopting the “link to the rest” part of that old saying.

mad max fury road

From EW comes data on which nominees have garnered the most Twitter buzz. That story includes some very cool visualizations of that data direct from Twitter itself.

Deadline has data from RelishMix (never heard of them) on which movies did the best in terms of cumulative reach. That includes YouTube video views for trailers, Facebook and Twitter audience reach and more. The data seems to look specifically at how much gain each movie’s material got from its nomination.

Finally, Indiewire shares a ranking from YouTube of how widely viewed the trailers for each Best Picture nominee have been. As the story points out, that’s interesting because YouTube is a destination where people often go intentionally seeking out marketing material, so it’s very much a premium spot.

Movie Marketing Madness: Triple 9

triple_nine_ver30Want to get Movie Marketing Madness via email? Sign up here. Then connect with MMM on Twitter and Facebook.

There’s no cop Hollywood loves more than the ethically suspect cop. It’s a tradition that runs at least as far back as Claude Rains’ Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca, who was so shocked to find gambling going on in the saloon he was a frequent patron of, and goes right through Det. Alonzo Harris as played by Denzel Washington in Training Day, who tried to teach his new partner the way of the streets. While portrayals of good, decent and morally sound police officers are certainly far from rare, the idea of them being compromised in some way seems to make not only for a more interesting story but also for juicier performances.

Entering that canon is the new movie Triple 9. Casey Affleck stars as Chris Allen, a rookie cop who’s about to get more than he bargained for. The city he serves in is home to a branch of the Russian mob helmed by Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet), who has her hands in a good chunk of the city’s police force. When those cops are “convinced” by Vlaslov to help her cronies pull off a major heist they set up a distraction that involves Allen being killed across town from the target, pulling the remaining police in the other direction. But things don’t go according to plan and everyone has to deal with the repercussions.

The Posters

The first poster really works hard to sell this as a violent thriller. A group of masked men, all sporting heavy machine guns, are seen walking through a cloud of smoke in front of a cityscape, clearly in the middle of some sort of criminal activity. The copy at the top tells us “The code on the street is never black and white” so it’s telling us there will be plenty of ethical and moral quandaries being explored in the story. The sizable cast is listed above the title treatment.

A series of character posters was released next, with each one featuring not just the actor and their name but also a quote either from or about that character. The intent here is to provide a short, easily digestible explanation of the character for the audience to sell not only the ensemble cast but also the webs of intrigue that will be presented in the story. They’re all black and white and red to stay consistent with the visuals from the rest of the campaign and keep selling the film as a gritty, violent thriller.

A final one-sheet creates a montage of black-and-white images, each of which show off another member of the cast. In the middle is a bright red block that has the title treatment, the cast list and the copy “The code on the street is never black and white.”

The Trailers

The first trailer – a red-band edition – starts off with Affleck and Harrelson having a drink at a bar, with the latter giving Affleck some advice on the realities of being a cop in a violent world. We then quick cut to a bank robbery in progress, followed by scenes of intense brutality, including a car hood with a bunch of severed heads sitting on it. It’s all gunshots, chases through alleys, shoot-outs, people trapped and bound in car trunks and more from there on out.

We don’t get a real sense of the story or the characters’ relationships to one another here, this is meant to just show that this is an intensely violent movie full of people doing very bad things to one another.

The next trailer starts off by making it clear that there will be ethical compromises that are made in order to survive the streets. We see Affleck’s character start in his new police department before a group of crooks try to rob a bank in a big way, an investigation Affleck and his partner get involved in. But it’s clear there are secrets being kept as we get more hints there are big plans that the bad guys have in store.

Again, there’s more emphasis here on the experience and the attitude the movie will be showing us than on the story. It’s not that there isn’t one, but I get the studio wants us to really feel the compromised morals here and see the fallout from those decisions. It’s trying really, really hard to present the movie as ultra-violent and gritty.

The final trailer starts out again with the back robbery but we soon see that there’s a second job the mob boss wants pulled. In order to setup a distraction the bad guys suggest killing a cop, something that’s sure to pull all the other police toward it and away from whatever it is they’re planning. The rest of the trailer is light on story and heavy on action, just showing off the gritty look and feel of a plot that involves some ethically compromised law enforcement official.

Online and Social

The official site has full-screen video of footage from the trailers playing on the splash page. Over in the right-hand corner is a big button encouraging the visitor to buy tickets and over on the left, below the content menu, is a prompt to watch the restricted trailer.

Moving into that content menu, the first section is for “Videos” and is where you can watch both of the trailers plus the red-band version of the first one along with two clips.

There are about a dozen images in the “Gallery” including a mix of stills and some, but not all, of the character posters covered earlier. Much more interesting is the “Motion Gallery” which has a number of GIFs of shots from the movie. All of the media from these two sections can be shared on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr or downloaded to your hard drive. Also nice is that the branding here is minimal, just a little bug in the corner and not something that drastically interferes with the overall image. So you can use them pretty freely and it’s not *just* about promoting the movie.

triple 9 pic 1

“Tumblr” takes you to a standalone site Out Monster The Monster, a reference to a line from the movie. There’s not much to that site, it’s just an infinite scroll Tumblr blog that keeps repeating images over and over and wants you to share it on other social networks. It’s nice looking, but I’m not sure what the purpose of the site is other than to show off someone’s CSS chops.

Back to the main site, “Cast & Crew” has images and character names for the main cast as well as the names of the director and producers but that’s it, no bios or career histories or anything else. “Story” has just one sentence about the movie that describes the genre but not the story of the film itself.

The movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles were used to promote cast appearances, cast Q&As on Twitter and elsewhere and so on. There are countdowns to release and frequent prompts to buy tickets and more.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The first TV spot to debut sets the movie up as a personal story that deals with betrayal and conflict between people who trust each other while only secondarily getting around to showing the main heist or any of the violence that seems to be the hallmark of the trailers.

While I didn’t see any myself I’m sure there was plenty of online and outdoor advertising as well.

Media and Publicity

Most of the press seems to have been generated by the release of clips and other official marketing materials. The cast, including Affleck, Reedus and Mackie, made the rounds of the late night talk shows in the week prior to release, including an appearance by Affleck on The Late Show that was noteworthy for its profound awkwardness. Other than that there doesn’t appear to have been a whole lot going on for the movie on this front.

triple 9 pic 2


Did I mention that the campaign is trying to sell a sense of realistic grit and violence? Because that’s the overall theme that’s hard to miss here. The marketing practically has the smell of gunpowder coming off it. It really wants you to feel the moral compromises that are being made in the name of expediency, wealth and safety and wants you to feel the danger that’s putting everyone in. In fairness in service of that goal it creates a campaign that has a very nice sense of brand consistency, with that red and black motif permeating all the elements of the push that certainly make it recognizable.

The movie itself looks like…well, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t come off like kind of a mess. The story is often secondary in the marketing to the overall feel and tone of the movie, something that’s obvious both in the way the trailers never come out and tell you who all these characters are and how the synopsis on the site doesn’t tell you really anything about the movie itself. I get the sense this is a big cast that’s been assembled around a story that may not make much sense or hold up to much scrutiny.