The idea that two people fall in love because they’ve been put together by some random circumstance has been the basis of countless books, movies and more. It’s not enough to have some coincidental meet-cute, sometimes the story says that because two people have been thrown together in a long car ride, in a workplace situation or some other happenstance they will fall in love almost out of the necessity of proximity – they’re the only other human being within visual range – and not out of mutual attraction. Of course it’s not played as “Well, she/he is good enough,” it’s that these two were soulmates all along, it just took this one little nudge to bring them together.
Such is the case in Me Before You. The movie, based on the best-selling book, tells the story of Will Traynor (Sam Claflin), a wealthy young man who became paralyzed after a motorcycle accident years ago. His parents hire him a caretaker in the form of Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke), a young woman who’s at a crossroads in her own life, having lost her previous job and hit the end of a relationship with her boyfriend. Her positive spirit and attitude help lift him from a profound depression and, of course, the two wind up falling in love.
The poster knows exactly what it’s doing and so puts colorful, soft-focus images of Clarke and Claflin, the two of them in some form of romantic embrace, right there in the middle. Other than their names, the title treatment and the reminder that it’s based on a New York Times bestselling book there’s nothing else going on with the design. It looks tailor made not so much for a theater’s poster display but for use on the paperback version of the book as it’s displayed at airport kiosks.
The first trailer is rather charming and had most of Film Twitter holding back the tears. We meet Louisa as she’s at an employment agency trying to find a job after striking out at several previous ones. Eventually she signs on as a caregiver to a paralyzed man who, it turns out, is seemingly immune to her bubbly positive personality. But eventually he warms to her and they form a bond and the two go out to a concert. He falls sick, though, and is taken to the hospital. The rest of the trailer is devoted to how the two of them are nurturing their budding romance through attending weddings, going out on boats and more.
If this is your kind of movie then I can certainly see how this is going to hit you right in the feels. You’ve got British charm and understatement combined with a story about love involving a disabled man. It’s like it’s been engineered to make people weep and love it so much.
The second trailer skips almost all the setup of how the main characters and simply presents them in a variety of extended situations. There are a few little moments of plot explanation here and there but it’s mostly about a couple of romantic bonding moments between the two main characters. So it’s less a trailer and more a collection of extended scenes.
I can’t say it doesn’t work despite its different approach. It’s just that it seems to know there’s no other way to sell the story and instead just focuses on selling the romance between Clarke and Traynor.
Online and Social
When you load the movie’s official website there’s some sort of animated bee that flies around the page. Not sure if that’s something from the story or just an idea the site designers had, but it’s there and keeps popping up as you visit different parts of the site.
Open up the menu in the left hand corner and the first section of content you see is “Videos” where you can watch the two trailers and the music video for the song from X Ambassadors.
There are a lot of stills from the movie in “Photos.” There’s a pretty good synopsis of the movie in “The Story.”
“Live Boldly” takes you all the Tumblr posts featuring photos and videos, with some of the photos including quotes from fans talking about how much they love the movie or are looking forward to it.
You can upload a photo and create a moment in the “Me Before You Project” that adds some hearts and flowers animation to that photo which you can then share again on social channels.
Links to the “Soundtrack” and “Tickets and Showtimes” are next. Finally there’s the “Poster Creator” that lets you upload your own picture and put your self in the positions of either Lou or Will on the one-sheet.
There are a lot of photos that we saw on the site along with videos and other promotional updates on the movie’s Facebook page, which also features a lot of content like red carpet coverage and more that was sponsored by Marie Claire. Same kind of content is on Twitter and Instagram.
While the Pinterest profile has a URL that clearly identifies it as being part of the movie’s online presence it’s positioned as coming from Lou Clark. So it’s all things from her bedroom, pinned ideas for trips she wants to take with Will and so on. As usual, I don’t so much have a problem with the idea of expanding the character like this, it’s that it’s inconsistent, presenting them as “My” items from Lou’s perspective but with movie branding and information all over the place.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
TV spots like this one were run that play like the first trailer, with lots of shots of Will and Lou making soft, hazy eyes at each other as they fall in love, him saying wonderfully romantic things to her and her helping him out.
There were plenty of online ads run that featured the key art that encouraged people to visit the website or buy tickets immediately.
Aside from the Marie Claire sponsorship of various things on social channels there weren’t any promotional partners that were mentioned or called out.
Media and Publicity
There was an in-depth story about Moyes, the author of the source novel and the screenwriter of this script, that covered the sometimes rocky path the story took the big screen, how she wanted it to hit all the emotional notes of the book and more. And speaking of the book, the stars had a little fun freaking out over the new edition that features the key art with their faces. Clarke later answered fan questions via a Twitter chat.
Claflin talked about the emotional component of playing a disabled man in such a tearjerker of a movie.
Not everyone was thrilled, with disability activists and others taking issue with both the movie and the book’s portrayal of a disabled person.
This is one of those situations where you certainly can’t say the studio doesn’t know what demographic it’s going after. Everything about the campaign either implicitly or overtly calls it out as the movie you should go see if you want a good cry. Whether it’s the romance angle or the element about Will’s disability and how his spirit is buoyed by Lou’s presence outside of that, it’s sold as a movie that’s been designed and assembled by specialists expressly for the purpose of making women cry over how touching it is.
There’s really not much more to say. Either the elements of the campaign are doing that on their own – the trailers and posters would fall into that category – or things like the images online are telling you that it will happen and you should prepare yourself. For some people that message is going to work really well and for others it won’t.