Win It All
With such a small-scale campaign, a lot of the weight is carried by the audience’s appreciation and connection with Swanberg and Johnson. If you’re a fan of either of them individually or as a creative team, which they increasingly are, then the marketing promises something you’ll likely enjoy. Swanberg’s loose style matches well with Johnson’s loose, hangdog, wiseguy charm, something that’s served him well in TV shows and movies both big and small.
Smurfs: The Lost Village
If you start to scratch the surface of things, though, you see that the story really is not only paper-thin but it’s essentially pointless, spoiled by the campaign all over the place. It’s surprising too that there’s not *more* of it, as there’s no selection of character posters or anything else. The point of this whole campaign is just to make sure people know this is a viable alternative for young kids who may not have been interested in Beauty & The Beast or who saw that weeks ago and need something new. Interestingly, the campaign only occasionally hints at themes of female identity and leadership, keeping that well hidden for the most part behind jokes about Smurfberries.
More than anything, there’s a gentleness to the campaign that presents the movie as a low-key alternative to the brash animated kids movies or big-budget remakes/reboots. Everything is presented here in soft light and with gentle fonts and soothing music, selling the movie as a palate cleanser for audiences who might be burnt out by seeing the same five things every time they go to the theaters. That’s the crux of the campaign’s appeal.
Going In Style
What’s striking, though, is how much the story and actual movie is seemingly a secondary consideration. Instead what’s really being sold is on display in the TV advertising and publicity portions of the campaign: A charming feature with some of your favorite can’t-miss older actors. The chemistry between Caine, Freeman and Arkin is the real value proposition of the marketing, which is why that’s what is mostly on display outside of the trailer and poster. It’s likely not enough to actually pull people in, but it’s seemingly the strongest message the studio found it had.
The campaign splits its attention between those two elements, maybe emphasizing the story of Gloria and her emotional issues a bit more than the one about how she controls the giant monster. The one serves the other so they can’t be separated completely, of course, but there are times of focus and there’s a slight advantage to the personal struggles she’s going through. That’s kind of the easier story to sell, at least without getting too deep into spoiler territory, so it makes sense. But for anyone looking for something a bit left of center that’s very original, this campaign should provide an attractive option.