Deeper Into the Sewers of IT’s Marketing

My latest post at Adweek dives a bit more deeply into some aspects of the IT marketing campaign I didn’t focus on last week to see what it was that helped make the movie a success.

It, the film adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling 1986 novel of the same name, was an unexpectedly big hit at the box-office this weekend. Days before release, the smart money was on ticket sales of $50-60 million, which would have been totally respectable. The $123 million take that It pulled in was well above even the most aggressive expectations, leading to the widespread belief that Warner Bros./New Line will greenlight a sequel that adapts the second half of the book, where the kids from the first part have grown up but find Pennywise the clown isn’t yet defeated. So, what lessons can we learn from the marketing of a movie about an ancient evil that takes the form of a clown with a red balloon?

Source: Inside the Scary-Good Advertising That Made ‘It’ Such a Killer at the Box Office – Adweek

We’re About to See Lots of Authors on Screen

My latest post on Adweek is about this year’s hottest movie trend: The stories of authors as they create their most famous works:

If there’s an overwhelming trend in media today, it’s the “pivot to video.” Publishers left and right are letting go of writers and reorienting their workflows and platforms to incorporate more and more video. That’s partly in response to audience behavior both on mobile and desktop and partly a desire to grab some of the still-substantial budgets allocated for TV advertising. So it’s a bit surprising that Hollywood’s hot fall trend this year is not just a focus on writers but on old-school writers who plied their trade using paper and either pen or typewriter. No fewer than four movies are hitting theaters, albeit likely in limited release, in the last few months of the year that tell the story of authors who created some of the most enduring works of literature in history.

Source: Famous Authors and Their Stories Are Hollywood’s Hot Fall Trend – Adweek

When Punching Nazis Is Your Central Message

My latest post on Adfreak was my way of reminding everyone that the only proper response to Nazis or anyone claiming to be the “master race” is at the very least a good swift right hook to the jaw.

For more than 50 years, Nazis were a good go-to antagonist for movies. Not only were they unquestioningly evil, but the stakes were implied by their presence: World domination, mass extermination of those deemed “undesirable,” and the collapse of the Western world.

In the past 15 years or so, they’ve been replaced to some extent by Middle East terrorists, who provide similar built-in stakes and seemed more relevant to the moment. World War II, after all, ended over 70 years ago, and those who fought in that conflict are disappearing every day. Young people in America today primarily know a world where non-white people are the go-to enemy, both in politics and popular entertainment.

In light of (cough) recent events, it’s worth revisiting the trailers for six movies that made it clear that America’s preferred response to those violently espousing Nazi ideology was a swift punch in the jaw.

Source: For Decades, Nazis Were Hollywood’s Ultimate Villains. Will Recent Events Get Fists Swinging Again? – Adweek

Stephen King and Movie Trailers

My latest post over at Adfreak looks at how despite being a well-known author, the movies based on his work haven’t always used Stephen King’s name as a major selling point:

King is a household name, with his books gracing many a family trip to the beach for the weekend. To date, there have been over 60 feature-film adaptations of novels, novellas or short stories from the author, along with dozens of retellings on TV. That number will grow even before the end of the year, with a new version of It (previously adapted as a TV mini-series in 1990) coming to theaters and Netflix releasing an adaptation of Gerald’s Game.

So, with King working hard to keep his name and work at the top of the pop-culture pile, it’s a good time to look back at how that name has been used in the marketing for just a handful of previous movies based on his writings.

Source: How Movies Made From Stephen King Books Have Been Marketed Through the Years – Adweek

Marketing Endings When Nothing Really Ends


My latest post at Adweek is about the marketing of The War For The Planet Of The Apes and Hollywood’s rule about how nothing can ever really end:

There’s an unwritten rule in Hollywood—or it may actually be written down, considering how pervasive it is—that nothing can ever end. Franchises built on existing intellectual property, whether adapted from previous media or sprung wholly on film, are the key to success, according to the big movie studios.

Not only can the marketing never tell the audience this is the last time they’ll see these characters (they may not feel it’s worth the effort), but you have to actively take the opposite approach and make every movie a small part of a bigger picture. It’s an approach perfected by Marvel Studios, and since used in the campaigns for The Mummy, King Arthur and other movies, though those efforts have largely failed to launch.

Source: How Hollywood Markets Final Chapters in a World Where Nothing Can Ever End – Adweek

Spider-Man: Homecoming’s DIY Influencer Campaign

My latest for Adfreak covers a campaign for Spider-Man: Homecoming that enlisted a number of YouTube stars to create their own Spidey costume:

To return to that handmade concept, Sony Pictures reached out to digital content agency Portal A, which launched the Spider-Man DIY campaign. The agency was tasked by Sony to produce a video that was focused on the costume, and so Portal A recruited a number of YouTube stars, including RoxyRocksTV, AWE me, RobotUnderdog2, TechnoBuffalo and Professor Pincushion.

Those stars were brought to a special “Spidey Lab,” created by the agency, and given the job of creating their own Spider-Man suit. The five influencers were brought into the custom-built design studio at YouTube’s L.A. headquarters, stocked via a partnership with Goodwill, and given access to whatever materials they needed to bring their vision to life. At the same time, fans on Twitter were asked to submit their own custom Spider-Man suit designs using the #SpiderManDIY hashtag for a chance to win a trip to the movie’s world premiere.

Source: Spider-Man Now Has a High-Tech Suit, but This Influencer Campaign for the Movie Went Pure DIY – Adweek

Trailers Giving Us Emotions

My latest at Adfreak looks at the emotional journey the trailers for some recent and upcoming movies have taken audiences on:

We’re supposed to feel the journey of that older woman struggling with arthritis when all she wants is to go outside and play wiffle ball with her grandson. We’re supposed to invest deeply in the story of the man who struggles to find just the right kind of paint with which to complete his weekend renovation. We’re supposed to cry at the dog that delivers the letter from the wounded soldier to his pregnant wife just in time for Christmas Day. Those emotional connections are supposed to make the audience more likely to feel positively toward the brand doing the advertising, and therefore more likely to select it the next time an opportunity comes up.

The same is true of movie trailers. Whether it’s making us laugh, making us tense up with anticipation, or feel a tingle at the heroic adventures depicted, we’re meant to get charged up. Those teasers are designed to use the 90 to 150 seconds available to them to sell us the premise, introduce the characters and outline the story, all in a way that hits some emotional chord. And that is meant to motivate the audience to go to the theater, make a purchase on iTunes/Amazon or subscribe to Netflix.

Source: All the Feels: How the Trailers for This Summer’s Movies Break Down Emotionally – Adweek

Wonder Woman’s Marketing Conundrum

My latest post at Adfreak uses the recent controversy about how much Warner Bros. is – or isn’t – putting forth a full effort for the upcoming Wonder Woman feature or if it was hedging bets and holding back because it might not appeal that strongly to the male audience.

Intrigued by how the Wonder Woman campaign stacked up against other recent efforts, specifically those from Warner Bros./DC Entertainment, I looked back at the campaigns for BvS and Suicide Squad—as well as the ongoing push for Justice League coming later this year—to see if I could quantify any disparity. Specifically, I looked at the volume of released marketing materials, not the engagement or spread of those assets. Here’s how things shook out.

Source: Why the Marketing of Wonder Woman at Warner Bros. Is Coming Under Fire – Adweek

Stingers and Movie Marketing

My latest at Adfreak examines the ways in which those post-credits stingers have become an integral part of the movie marketing cycle, especially for franchise films:

In the last week, a rumor that had been bouncing around the internet was confirmed when director James Gunn revealed that, yes, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 would have an epic five post-credits scenes. For those of us who feel like most movies could easily lop off 20 minutes or so without losing anything meaningful from the story, it means we’re going to have to wait even longer to OMG get out of the way I need to go to the bathroom.

The number of post-credits sequences has steadily increased since Marvel Studios revitalized the concept with 2008’s Iron Man. That scene featured Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury emerging from the shadows of Tony Stark’s living room and introducing him—and the audience—to the reality that a wider world of superheroes existed, ultimately setting the stage for The Avengers four years later.

Source: Stay for the Credits: How Bonus Scenes Became a Crucial Part of Movie Marketing

Imagining the Marketing for NBC’s Saturday Morning Cartoons

I really abused by access to Adfreak this past week, with a post that does some thinking about how movie studios would sell film adaptations of the rest of NBC’s 1985-86 lineup of Saturday morning cartoons.

For you millennials in the audience, “Saturday morning cartoons” were, in the days before Disney Channel and Netflix brought them to us 24/7, really the only place and time to watch cartoons. You’d head down to the living room in your pajamas and have total control of the TV for a few hours, a real treat in those days. Let’s move on. Other networks did so as well, but NBC would regularly advertise their Saturday morning lineup in comic books of the time, again an indicator of an era when comics were actually meant for kids and not 40-year-old white guys. So, using this scan of just such an ad as a jumping-off point, let’s see what kind of marketing potential there might be for the rest of NBC’s 1985 Saturday morning lineup.

Source: Let’s Adapt the Rest of NBC’s 1985 Saturday Morning Cartoon Lineup for the Big Screen – Adweek