Movie Marketing Madness: Operator

operator-posterTechnology and human relationships are at the heart of the story in the new movie Operator. Martin Starr stars as Joe, a software programmer who’s having a bit of a problem at work. The new voice assistant app he’s been working on isn’t ready for prime-time and his boss has singled out the voice that’s used as being the big issue. After he and his team start searching for a replacement he winds up turning to his wife Emily (Mae Whitman), who has a pleasant and soothing voice, something that comes in handy as a hotel concierge.

This, of course, causes problems. Joe becomes more interested in the quantifiable, predictably soothing nature of the artificial assistant he’s helped create than he is in the real thing sitting across the table from him. Similarly, Emily’s inclusion of material involving Joe into her budding comedy career begins to cause tension. So the movie is about human connection and its available surrogates.

The Posters

The movie’s only poster is simple but it does make some effort to sell the story and characters. Starr and Whitman stand in the middle of the image, looking at the camera. Their dress does what it can to establish their characters, with him looking like the prototypical programmer dude while she’s obviously dressed for some sort of hostess position. An image like a network of nodes and connections is behind them in an attempt to make it clear this is about those kinds of connections, with all the nodes labeled with the names of emotions. “The girl of his dreams is in beta” is kind of a vague copy point since it could be interpreted as Whitman’s character being some kind of robot, but it’s otherwise alright.

The Trailers

The trailer opens as a team at a tech company is having problems with its Siri-like mobile assistant. Under pressure to turn around a new voice and fix the issues on a tight deadline one of the team, Joe, decides his girlfriend Emily, who’s a hotel concierge, should be the voice. She agrees but as the product improves, the relationship between Joe and Emily sours. He’s more and more obsessed with this seemingly perfect and predictable version he’s created but is neglecting the needs of the actual Emily, who’s pulling away more and more.

It’s not bad, setting up a more low-key version of Her or other movies about our increasing connection with technology that often comes at the expense of our human relationships. Whitman and Starr look like they have great chemistry and the rest of the cast is a solid ensemble. Not going to break out, but it has a lot of people you already enjoy and presents a decent story.

Online and Social

The only online presence for the movie appears to have been a Facebook page that was infrequently updated, mostly with posts about various festival screenings, the trailer and so on. Not much activity there at all.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing here that I’m aware of, but considering the movie will be available on iTunes and other VOD platforms starting tomorrow I’m sure some online ads will be run to drive traffic and downloads.

Media and Publicity

There were a few screenings at some of the smaller festivals, some of which included Q&As with the cast. For the most-part, though, most all the discussion has been around the release of marketing materials.



I’m a big fan of both Starr and Whitman so I very much want to like this movie. It looks charming and of-the-moment with its plot about human and machine connections being forged. Sure, it looks like a slightly lower-budgeted version of Her, but that’s not a knock against it. It just means that these stories are very relevant right now.

Admittedly, it’s a slight campaign. The trailer is the main element and makes the strongest appeal, showing the chemistry between the stars as well as the impressive ensemble cast that’s been assembled. There’s a lot to like here, so here’s hoping the marketing reaches enough of an audience that will be attracted to its low-key appeal.

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By Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.

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