I’m not even sure what the campaign is trying to sell. Sure it’s a comedy but it’s not being sold as a particularly funny comedy, which is surprising given the talent involved. At best the movie looks mildly amusing, which isn’t exactly a strong call to action to give the audience. Overall it looks like the kind of thing that would make for a funny “SNL” skit but which might not be sustainable over the length of a feature.
If there’s an issue with the campaign, it’s that it’s largely indistinguishable from the marketing pushes for most of Cruise’s other recent action movies. If it weren’t for the constant stream of other characters shouting “Reacher!” it would be easy to assume this was for an entry in the Mission: Impossible series or something else. Cruise is a good actor – no, he really is – but he doesn’t have the range to make clear differentiations between the similar properties he’s starring in.
The movie’s personal focus and touch really comes through in this campaign. Everything here is focused on making sure the potential audience sees that it’s a human story with a very small scale, focusing on Chiron’s journey and emotions. The trailer, the press push and the posters all work to make it clear the spotlight will never leave him and his struggle for identity and acceptance.
The campaign itself is good and focuses on the raw emotions that these high school age characters are facing. That’s true to life in any situation, not just sexuality but anything involving identity and the pressures of the world around you. The audience is shown what kind of movie it’s going to be and what the story is, with few punches pulled. It conveys that edgy feeling even as it sells a small, character-centric drama.