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.
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.
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.
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.