Flashback Friday, Movie Marketing

Flashback MMM: Groundhog Day

groundhog-day-posterYesterday was Groundhog Day…again…and that must mean we’re here at Flashback MMM waiting for a trip back to look at the marketing for a movie starring the most famous groundhog weatherman, Punxsutawney Phil. That’s right, we’re here to talk about the marketing for 1993’s comedy classic Groundhog Day.

The movie stars Bill Murray as Phil Conners, a local news weatherman who’s given an assignment he’s less than thrilled about, to cover the festivities in Punxsutawney, PA as the groundhog comes out and predicts the next six weeks of weather. Phil’s forced to spend more time there than planned due to an unexpected snowstorm, but things get complicated when he winds up reliving the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over again. As he’s doing so he picks up a lot of skills and abilities and tries to woo his producer Nancy, played by Andie McDowell. Hilarity, of course, ensues in this comedy directed by the late great Harold Ramis.

The poster is…well let’s admit it, it’s kind of bland. Murray’s face is shown like he’s trapped in the face of a clock and trying to escape. A small town is visible out of the window behind him while McDowell is in the foreground, a bemused look on her face. The clock gives us some hint that the story involves time, as does the copy “He’s having the day of his life, over and over again.” Other than that there’s nothing all that memorable on the poster. It’s presented in the same soft, hazy colors that were the hallmark of many 90s comedies, nothing too prominent or engaging. It’s good and certainly didn’t hurt the movie’s box-office or reputation, it’s just kind of bland. Surprisingly, Ramis isn’t given prominent treatment on the poster, a shock considering his reputation and this reunited him with Murray, which seems like a solid marketing hook.

The trailer is much more engaging, laying out the story in clear terms. We meet Phil while he’s already in Punxsutawney and start to see some of the interactions he has with the people there, getting a sense of his bad attitude about the job. It’s quickly established that he’s stuck in a sort of time loop, dealing with Ned Ryerson over and over again and more. He becomes despondent and engages in all kinds of dangerous activities. We also see him starting to romance Nancy, using his constant stream of never-ending days to his advantage to change is pitch to one more likely to be well received.

Overall the campaign just screams of the early 90s. It has the vibe, that washed-out color palette that was so popular in films and their marketing campaigns at the time, when the bright colors of the 80s were giving way to something much more subdued. It obviously emphasized Murray and his comedic chops and did a good job of laying out at least most of the big story points, giving the audience a pretty solid idea of what they could expect. And it laid the groundwork for what’s gone on to become a favorite of audiences over the last 20+ years.

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