One of the best lines of the classic Dead Poets Society is when Robin Williams’ Prof. Keating explains to his students why it is we read and write poetry: “To woo women.” It’s a moment of blunt truth that cuts through all the artifice and gets to the core of the matter. And it’s true. Guys are forever being pushed to try and create new things in order to impress the girls around them. It’s the cultural equivalent of displaying your feathers: “Look at me and what I’m doing,” all to try and make an impression.
The new movie Sing Street is about just such an attempt. Set in 1980’s Dublin, Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), is an average kid who’s not doing much with his life so far. One day he catches sight of Raphina (Lucy Boynton), who’s mysterious and nothing like anyone he’s ever met. In an effort to impress her Conor lies that he’s in a band. He decides to make that a reality and enlists some friends and other kids to make his band a reality. The movie comes from writer director John Carney, he of Once and Begin Again.
The first poster is kind of great and showed up around the time of the film’s debut at Sundance. We see the two leads in a very pop art kind of style, with the tagline laying out the story with “Boy meets girl. Girl unimpressed. Boy starts band.” The whole look and feel of the poster is just great since it works well at evoking the 1980’s setting of the film. For those in the know, Carney’s previous credits are listed here as well.
The first trailer sets up the basic idea of the movie pretty well. We meet Conor just as his parents are transferring him to a Catholic school where, predictably, he has trouble fitting in. When he sees Raphina across the street one day he does what any boy trying to impress a girl does: Lie. In this case he tells her he’s in a band. So to give truth to the lie he enlists his friends to actually form a band. The rest of the trailer shows them all rehearsing, him getting advice from his older brother on how to be cool and what music to like, him continuing to try and woo Raphina and more.
It’s a charming, fun trailer that very much looks like the kind of thing you’d expect from the director of Once and Begin Again, both of which are name-dropped in the trailer. This kind of thing lives or dies on how much audiences connect with the main character, but that doesn’t look like it will be a problem here.
Online and Social
Near as I can tell the only online presence for the movie was a Facebook page that shared trailers, clips and more. There were occasional GIFs of Madonna, Duran Duran and other 80s music icons that were shared to try and set the mood for the movie. That helps to flesh out the page since most of what’s shared is purely promotional, so those GIFs are the only thing that breaks up the content mix at all.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
The TV ad campaign kicked off with a spot that debuted on St. Patrick’s Day and which laid out the story of how Conor wants to start a band to impress a girl in a nice concise manner as it also gave us Carney’s bonafides as a director.
I didn’t see any but it’s a safe bet that at least a bit of online advertising was done.
Media and Publicity
Unsurprisingly, Carney was a big part of the publicity push, with stories like this that allowed him to talk about how his own experiences inspired the movie’s story.
Other than that most of the press coverage came as the result of the release of marketing materials and clips. With no big stars and no recognizable names other than Carney’s that’s not terribly surprising.
I’ll be honest, I think we should be making a much bigger deal about this movie. A new John Carney movie should be greeted with major press push that talks about not only his impact with his previous movies but the latest round of up-and-coming stars he’s working with and more. The press should be frothing at the mouth for this. While yes, many online commentators are certainly anxiously awaiting it and singing its praises from festival appearances, I still feel as though the campaign here is way too subdued.
But what is here is good. The campaign certainly conveys the same attitude as Once, even if the details are different. It’s a coming of age story, something that always plays well with certain audiences, and so the marketing should resonate with them. It’s selling a movie that, like its main character, loves music and what it can do, particularly how it can affect the relationships around us. It’s sweet, it’s personal and it’s got a soundtrack that those of us of a certain age will relate to at the very least.