Set in war-torn 1942, the new movie Allied is all about who you can trust and for how long. The movie stars Brad Pitt as Max Vatan, a Canadian intelligence officer stationed in North Africa. There he meets Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard), a French Resistance fighter on a mission that takes him behind enemy lines. The two begin a relationship there but are parted, only to reunite later in London, where they rekindle the romance and eventually get married and start a family.
Things get complicated, though, when Vatan’s superiors come to him and reveal their belief that Beauséjour is actually a German spy. He’s asked to kill her or be suspected of being a spy himself and both of them executed by the powers that be. Vatan isn’t convinced, of course, though the accusations do raise suspicions in his mind. Still, he’s sure of the innocence of his wife and so sets out on a quest to clear her name and find out what’s behind the charges.
The one-sheet for the movie is trying so hard to sell this as a sexy spy thriller. So Pitt and Cotillard are shown leaning toward each other for a kiss, both of them dressed as if they’re at a dinner party, a sense that’s compounded by her holding a champagne glass in one hand. The title treatment and credits which include calling this out as coming from the director of Forrest Gump, Cast Away and Flight, are at the top of the design, while at the bottom we’re warned “The enemy is listening.” There’s nothing here that specifically hints that one of them may be the enemy referenced there, but it does establish that there will be some sort of intrigue going on around the romance that is the key element of the poster.
The movie’s story isn’t super-clear in the first teaser trailer. But what we do get are that Vatan and Beausejour are spies of some kind during World War II, operating in an environment that’s always dangerous and where the potential for a double-cross is always high. It mixes war footage with scenes of the two characters sharing moments of stolen passion, even if those happen to come while on a mission of some kind.
In what was one of the year’s more crass marketing moves, Paramount dropped a new 60-second trailer on the same day news broke that Pitt’s longtime wife/girlfriend Angelina Jolie had filed for divorce, reportedly because of an on-set affair he had with Cotillard. While I’m usually a fan of tying marketing efforts to current events in some manner, this seemed to step over the line as the studio tried to take advantage of how everyone was already talking about the pair of stars by reminding everyone they had a new movie together coming out soon. Perhaps this struck me the wrong way because the two stars in the movie were the subject of the press speculation, meaning the studio was implicitly at best condoning those rumors or at worst confirming them. This just seemed…icky.
The next full trailer starts off with Vatan and Beausejour engaging in some kick-ass spy stuff, shooting up a room full of Nazis before going off to their hideout. They eventually fall in love and get married. But then she’s accused of being a spy and things get awkward as he alternately believes the story and tries to disprove it.
The real star of the movie appears to be the green screen, which is on full and obvious display. The movie’s being sold as an epic period romance and it’s not bad on that front, but there’s no apparent hook other than the star power of Pitt and Cotillard, which may not be enough.
Online and Social
There’s not much going on over at the movie’s official website. It opens with the second trailer but once that’s done playing and you see the front page there isn’t much in the way of content. It just has the one page, with links to the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles for the movie along with prompts to watch the trailer again and buy tickets.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
There were a handful of TV spots run that played up various elements of the story, some focusing more on the romance some focusing on the espionage and intrigue. All of them, though, made it clear there’s a game afoot that’s being played between Pitt and Cotillard during war time, which was the central message.
Plenty of online advertising was done as well, including ads on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to help raise awareness and interest in the movie. While I haven’t seen them I think it’s safe to assume a good amount of outdoor advertising was done as well, considering the talent involved.
Media and Publicity
The first look at the movie came via People and shared a still of Cotillard and Pitt at an outdoor cafe. Things went pretty dark for a while after that, likely because of the issues surrounding Pitt and the dissolution of his marriage, which included momentary charges of child abuse being investigated.
They only substantially picked back up at the movie’s premiere, where Pitt and Cotillard talked about the movie and what drew them to the story. That was followed by appearances on the late night and morning talk shows by both of the lead actors.
It’s hard to judge this campaign based solely on the merits of the marketing collateral that was created for it. That’s largely because the movie was for a good chunk of time overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the two stars, something that took up everyone’s attention and kind of sucked the wind out of the campaign for a while.
Moving outside that, though, the campaign still doesn’t present anything particularly compelling. This seems like the kind of movie that’s going to fall under the radar of most moviegoers, whether they were turned off by the aforementioned pseudo-scandal involving talent or just because there are bigger movies on both sides of the spectrum vying for attention. There are smaller movies that have received more buzz and bigger movies that are dominating more headlines, meaning this middle-of-the-road period action romance simply wasn’t marketed effectively enough to turn awareness into interest.