“It can always get worse” is the life motto of a certain type of person. Whether we’re looking at a bad situation and considering all the ways it can still go downhill or if things have turned out alright and we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, we’re never quite settled. We’re always waiting for things to turn and start going downhill. Yes, we may be a little psychotic about this feeling and the people in our lives often aren’t thrilled with our outlook, but that’s where we are.
At the end of the first Neighbors things were looking pretty upbeat for Mac (Seth Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne), having survived the frat led by Teddy (Zac Efron) moving in next door. When we meet up with them in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, the couple are getting ready for the next phase in life and planning to sell their house and move. Certain that they just need to ride out the next month they’re unpleasantly surprised when a sorority moves in next door and they find history repeating itself. Lead by Shelby (Chloë Grace Moretz), the sorority is a threat to the happiness of Mac and Kelly’s family and so they embark on a quest to get them to move out, this time enlisting Teddy to help in their machinations.
The first teaser poster is pretty simple but gets the point across. “New neighbors” is at the top but the main image is a backyard fence with a pair of red panties with “2” on them hanging off it. So we get that it’s a sequel and can imply that this one will involve some females since those don’t look like men’s underwear.
The next poster draws the battle lines, placing the “Parenthood” team on one side staring down the “Sisterhood” team. This one is basically about showing off heavily airbrushed photos of the stars close-up while establishing the basic premise of the movie’s story.
So the poster component of the campaign isn’t super-strong from a design point of view. But they do what they need to by showing off the basic premise of the sequel to the audience in as efficient a manner as possible, so I can’t quibble too much.
The first trailer – teased the day before it was released – is pretty funny. We see that Shelby and her friends are starting their own sorority because the ones that are out there are, basically, no fun. But that isn’t great news to Mac and Kelly, who see the new sorority next door as seriously hurting their chances of selling their house. So they enlist Teddy to try and get them to leave, but of course none of their efforts wind up working out.
Again, this is a pretty good trailer. It looks like it’s selling a movie that’s very similar to the first one with the same kind of jokes; one even gets repeated outright. Basically, if you liked Neighbors and want to see Teddy now on the side of the angels and more hilarity as Rogen and Byrne try to be cool while also getting their unwanted neighbors to leave, this will appeal to you.
A red-band trailer starts off with Mac and Kelly having not only awkward sex but also an uncomfortable moment with their daughter. We see they’re selling their house and have a deal that isn’t quite finalized, at which point they find out a sorority is moving in next door. That leads to them trying to drive the girls out of the house through various means, including calling their parents. Ultimately they enlist Teddy’s help and hijinks continue to ensue.
The trailer certainly features more raunchiness, both in terms of language and sexuality. Seriously, there are a lot of dildo jokes in this movie, it seems. But it also focuses less on the girls of the sorority, showing that the studio is selling this as a Rogen/Efron buddy comedy while also focusing on Byrne’s Kelly, who was a fan-favorite from the first movie.
Online and Social
The first trailer plays when you open the official website. Close that and you’ll see that the content on the site isn’t all that robust, which I’ll interpret as meaning they were going for concise and on-target rather than offering all sorts of unnecessary material.
“Social” has all the posts that have been published to this Tumblr-based site. You can filter those by Videos, GIFs and so on if you want to drill down on the content. There are about nine stills in the “Gallery.”
You can scroll through the “Cast” and find out a bit about the major players in the movie. Nothing too in-depth here, just general information. Finally, “About” has a synopsis of the story that sets up what you can expect.
The movie’s Facebook and Twitter feeds have updates with TV spots, trailers, promotional countdown images and more but not much else. Twitter has RTs of press stories and more but that’s about it. Photos and short videos were also shared on Instagram.
There’s also a link on the site for Snapchat that opens up the Snapcode you can scan to follow the movie’s profile and get updates.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
There was lots of advertising done. On TV a bunch of spots like this one were run that presented consolidated versions of the story. Some of the jokes varied from one spot to the next but they all hit the same major beats, selling the movie along the same lines as the trailer did.
There was also plenty of online advertising done, mostly using the key art that pitted the two sides against each other. So they were the same kind of ads that ran for Captain America: Civil War, just with a different cast on display. There were also ads on YouTube and elsewhere to promote the trailer. I’m sure there was outdoor advertising done as well.
Media and Publicity
The first look photo at the film in EW showed the return of the major characters, with Efron’s abs on display while Rogen had his markered onto his chest while Byrne wore a cheerleader outfit. Later on Rogen and Efron talked about what they were trying to do with the sequel and where this new film finds their characters.
Rogen and his writing partner Evan Goldberg sat down for a joint interview where they talked about what it was like to tackle a sequel for the first time, what they wanted to bring to the movie, how they brought in a bunch of female writers to help make the dialogue and scenes more realistic and lots more, including comments about their careers to date.
I like this campaign quite a bit. It does what it needs to do in selling the movie as a continuation of the first one’s story but also clearly shows that this one comes as much from the point of view of the girls who are the “problem” as it does from that of Mac and Kelly. That’s a shift from the first movie, which clearly positioned Teddy and his frat brothers as the antagonists in the story and the married couple as the good guys, the wronged party who are just trying to maintain the peace. I know there was more to Teddy’s story than that, but more of Shelby’s story and motivations are on display here in this campaign than there was of Teddy’s in the first one.
That being said, what’s really being sold is a series of gags that call back to the first movie – see the airbag stunt – while presenting a new twist on that. It doesn’t need to work that hard at that, and it doesn’t. It just needs to show people that this is going to be a pretty enjoyable two hours at the movies and it accomplishes that goal. Strong trailers take the lead in the campaign, which should work well to bring out the audience.