Movie Marketing Madness: Fist Fight

fist_fight_ver2The idea behind the new movie Fist Fight is easy to sum up: Two grown adult male teachers have a problem at school that results in one challenging the other to a fight after school. Charlie Day plays Andy Campbell, a “nice guy,” the kind that wants to help and is generally a pushover in his life, not rocking the boat in any way but just trying to get along because things will be alright.

That’s difficult, though, when he gets on the wrong side of Strickland (Ice Cube), a fellow teacher who Campbell winds up getting fired. Strickland throws down the gauntlet and so Campbell winds up spending the rest of the day trying to either get out of it or figure out a way to win. Both result in the usual hijinks as no one seems eager to help him and no one is offering him a good way out.

The Posters

Nothing hugely special or original going on with the movie’s poster. It shows Cube and Day facing off against each other with a school and a crowd of other people in the background egging them on. “After school. Parking lot. It’s on.” is the copy at the bottom, making it clear that these two are going to take each other on in an old-school fist fight.

The Trailers

The trailer starts out with big dramatic lettering and music leading up to Strickland telling Campbell he’s going to fight him after school. From there on out Campbell is trying to figure a way out of it, either by reasoning with his adversary, running away, calling 911 or seeking the advice of his friends. None of that is very helpful, though, and ultimately it seems he’s resigned to taking a beating, but we never figure out exactly why.

Because we don’t see the root cause of the conflict between the two main characters I’m inclined to think that we’re seeing footage primarily from the last half of the movie here. By that I mean I’m guessing the first 45 minutes are about establishing these two as rivals for whatever reason and then the second half is Day’s Campbell running around trying to avoid it. I might be wrong but there’s a spectacular lack of setup on display here, even if the trailer is still mildly amusing without it.

A second trailer takes largely the same approach. There are some new scenes but the idea is the same, to present Campbell as kind of a coward. We do find out here why Strickland doesn’t like him and wants to fight, but otherwise it’s many of the same gags and the same kind of vibe.

Finally there was a red-band version released to help emphasize the movie’s foul-mouthed credentials. It’s largely the same story that’s on display, just with a *lot* of F-bombs.

Online and Social

The official website loads and the red-band trailer pops up. though the player is very slow and wonky, meaning it’s hard to actually watch the trailer. After that’s either done or your patience is exhausted, close it and you get a big version of the key art and see that it’s a Tumblr-built site. Below that art are links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

There are really only two sections on the site, “Videos” and GIFs.” Clicking either one just takes you to the posts on the Tumblr blog tagged accordingly.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A number of TV spots were run, each taking slightly different takes on the material. Some like this one showed the conflict between the two teachers, others showing Campbell’s preparations for the fight. Day is clearly the star on which the TV campaign is being hung as he gets the most screen time throughout all the different spots.

Social network and other online ads were run that used the trailer and key art to drive ticket sales and generally raise awareness the movie was coming soon.

Media and Publicity

Day, Cube and the rest of the cast made the rounds of the media to talk about working together, the fun times they had on set and more. Director Richie Keen shared insights into how he tried to put his personal stamp on the story and a narrative emerged around this being Tracy Morgan’s first movie in the three years since his major accident.


There’s nothing really wrong with the campaign. It looks and feels like the same kind of comedy we’ve seen in releases like Daddy’s Home and others that feature major stars engaged in some sort of mundane and childish showdown. While there are a few laughs, almost all of them come from either Jillian Bell or Kumail Nanjiani, both of whom have supporting roles here. Mostly, though, this seems like it was lots of fun to make but is actually kind of depressing for the audience to watch. Day and Cube are both better than this material.

But the campaign is consistent, selling more or less the same message across media and platforms. There’s lots of emphasis on Day’s spineless character and how he’s viewed as the guy who’s all too happy to have sand kicked in his face. That joke may be funny in spurts, but I think it’s going to wear thin over the course of 90 minutes unless there’s some major element of the story and the film that’s not been part of the marketing. Otherwise this looks like a dry, largely unfunny but generally “pleasant” movie.

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Movie Marketing Madness: Barbershop: The Next Cut

barbershop_the_next_cutWant to get Movie Marketing Madness via email? Sign up here. Then connect with MMM on Twitter and Facebook.

Chicago, as the saying goes, is a city of neighborhoods. From Beverly to Lincoln Park, Austin to the Near North Side and everywhere inbetween, these are the result of ethnic groupings, a little political gerrymandering and other factors. People live in Chicago in name only, with many residents identifying more with their specific neighborhoods than the city as a whole. It’s like a group of small towns that banded together out of necessity against a common enemy, with local alderman and their clout making more of an impact than City Hall. Local institutions and figures are the focal points of many of these.

Last year’s Chi-raq was a dramatic, if sometimes fantastical, look at one such neighborhood and now Barbershop: The Next Cut is here with a somewhat more light-hearted look at another one. The movie, the third in the series, comes 12 years after the last installment and picks up the story of Calvin (Ice Cube), the proprietor of Calvin’s Barbershop, a local shop that serves as neighborhood gathering place. In order to stick around Calvin’s is now sharing a space with a women’s hairstyling parlor. More than that, the surrounding area has taken a turn for the worse and so Calvin and the rest of the gang find themselves fighting for the very soul of their neighborhood as well as the survival of their business.

The Posters

The first poster shows the whole cast inside the barbershop. Cedric the Entertainer and Nicki Minaj are seated in chairs while Ice Cube stands between and slightly in front of them, the rest of the cast relegated to standing in the background. It’s not a super-exciting poster, but it doesn’t need to be, it just needs to tell people the movie is coming out.

A whole series of character posters came next that showed off the employees of both shops and their patrons. There’s nothing much to them visually, it’s just about giving each member of the cast a big shout-out with their name and photo Photoshopped into the barbershop background.

The Trailers

The first trailer is quite good and pretty funny. We’re reintroduced to the crew of the barbershop, particularly Cube’s character, who talks over and over again about how much he loves his Chicago neighborhood. We see that the status quo has changed a bit, with his shop having merged with a women’s salon that was also struggling. That means the clientele has changed as well, with the shop no longer being a men-only refuge. The second half of the trailer is less about the shops and more about the difficulty of not only living in a neighborhood that’s subject to random shootings and other violence but also raising kids in that environment.

I’m actually a big fan of the tonal shift in the trailer as it shows that the movie will be funny but also try and address a serious topic, maybe in a less heavy-handed way than some other recent notable releases. It’s a great cast – even Nicki Minaj looks like she’s well-used in the movie – and looks like a solid entry in the series.

The second trailer starts off by establishing the barbershop as the community gathering spot in a neighborhood that has plenty of challenges. After some joking around to show the relationships of the characters and the dynamics in the shop we see that they decide to affect some change by making the shop into a safe space to try and turn things around.

It’s pretty funny for many of the same reasons the first one is. Basically if you enjoy some trash-talking coupled with a social message of being responsible members of your community, this is for you.

Online and Social

The official website opens with the second trailer, which is certainly worth rewatching. When you close that you’re taken to the Tumblr-based site and a version of the key art featuring most of the main cast. There’s a menu there so let’s look at that first.

“Story” takes you to About the Film (okay….) which is where you can read a decent synopsis of the story and find out about the talent on both sides of the camera. “Partners” has the names and logos of the companies who are helping to promote the movie in some way. “Get Tickets” is pretty self-explanatory.

barbershop next cut 3 pic 1

Going back to the site you can scroll down and get lots of videos like a short featurette with the cast talking about why they came back to the franchise along with other videos, plenty of GIFs that counted down to release and more.

The Facebook page, Twitter profile and Instagram feed for the movie are all full of promotion updates like videos, GIFs and more. Twitter, of course, has lots of RTs both of movie talent and of fans who are talking about how much they love the talent and what they’re doing to promote the movie.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

It’s hard to believe there wasn’t any TV advertising done but there’s nothing on the site or YouTube that I could find along these lines. I did see a handful of Promoted Tweets on Twitter that shared the trailer and contained a call to action to see it in theaters.

In terms of promotional partners there were a few:

  • Creme of Nature: The official hair care partner of the movie. Nothing unique on that company’s site outside of a big splash graphic to that effect.
  • FYE: Nothing on their official site that’s unique to the movie.
  • Wahl: Again, nothing about the movie I could find. Safe to assume they probably provided product for production.

Media and Publicity

Minaj was understandably a big part of the publicity, talking in interviews like this about what she wanted to do with her character and more in the context of her overall career. Lamore Morris also got a nice profile in connection with the movie that also touched on his role on “New Girl.” And the whole cast talked about the movie at the premiere.

barbershop next cut 3 pic 2

Cube, though, was still the focal point. He appeared on “Good Morning America” and other talk shows to talk about the movie and returning to the franchise. He also joined other cast and crew in other press visits to keep the drumbeat going. And there was an attempt at getting plenty of local coverage with a bus tour of the country that brought a mobile barbershop to major markets, Ice Cube and other members of the cast along with it.


I like this campaign quite a bit. It’s all on-brand and knows what it is that it’s selling, which is a charming, funny movie that also has an important message to say. I’m a sucker for movies that involve heavy amounts of characters just trash-talking with each other so this campaign is right up my alley in that regard. Even more than that though I like the tight sense of rhythm the campaign has as it balances humor very real human drama.

More importantly, the campaign seems to know what the movie is. It’s a charming low-key comedy with lots of vibrant characters that deals with some of the issues facing inner-city neighborhoods in 2016. That’s no small order but Cube and the rest of the cast look like they pull it off nicely. The marketing all comes together to emphasize the story and the ensemble, both of which should provide attractive options for different segments of the audience and give them different, though no less powerful, reasons to go see it.

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Movie Marketing Madness: Ride Along 2

ride_along_twoI was surprised a while ago when rewatching “Undeclared” to see a very young Kevin Hart on the show. Hart makes a half-dozen or so appearances on the show as someone on campus who is all about Jesus and is trying to get Jay Baruchel’s Steve to read the Bible as a way to fix all his problems. Looking at his fimography this was one of Hart’s first “big” roles and looks like it led to not only more gigs with Judd Apatow and friends but also to more roles and jobs in general for Hart.

7,346 roles later (and that’s just in 2014), Hart is reteaming with Ice Cube for Ride Along 2. Where the first movie has Ben (Hart) trying to get James (Cube) to like him because Ben is dating James’ sister Angela (Tika Sumpter), now Ben is working on becoming a cop like Ben. Not only that but he and Angela are about to be married. But an assignment takes Ben and James down to Miami to investigate a drug dealer who’s supplying product to the gangs in Atlanta. Hilarity ensues.

The Posters

There’s not a lot to the one poster design-wise. Hart and Cube are standing in front of a fancy sports car looking at each other, Hart with a goofy grin on his face, Cube with one of exasperated disbelief. In the background – and oddly in black-and-white – are palm trees and water which establish the location as somewhere in Florida.

It’s alright since it’s mostly just meant to make the audience aware the movie is coming. If you’re a fan of Hart, Cube or the first movie then this is all you need to know, that another installment is on its way and that it promises the same kind of humor and relationships as the first one.

The Trailers

The first trailer opens up with Ben interrupting an undercover operation James is running and ruining it of course. We then move to some setup about Ben and Angela’s impending wedding, which involves Ben trying (and failing because he gets hit in the head by a ceiling fan) to intimidate the wedding planner. Finally we move to the main story as Ben and James are sent to Miami to investigate the drug dealer, which leads to all sorts of mayhem and problems. The two, along with their local partner Cruz (played by Olivia Munn) go undercover at a party and more as part of their investigation, which threatens the timing of Ben and Angela’s wedding.

It’s not bad and, kind of like the poster, is just meant to show off the broad strokes of the movie to the fans who are already inclined to see it. If you’re a fan of Hart in particular then this will be right up your alley since it looks like the humor is absolutely in line with most of his other movies. Most of the gags come from him being the fish who’s out of water or from his diminutive stature and tendency to overcompensate for not being seen as cool.

The second trailer wasn’t too different from the first. It still opens with scenes about Hart’s upcoming wedding and how he’s getting more involved in being a police officer. The big difference here is we see some additional scenes from the mission in Miami, which doesn’t go too well for Hart’s character.

I’ll admit to genuinely laughing when Ice Cube pulls Hart back up to purposely use him and his bulletproof vest as a shield. Hart’s reaction to that is pretty great.

Online and Social

The official website opens with the second trailer playing in a pop up window and when you close that there are big buttons prompting you to either watch it again or buy tickets.

You can scroll down and see the collection of images, GIFs and videos – the site is built on Tumblr – or you can sort them by the menu at the top. The images at least have some movie branding if not some other text overlaid on them. And the GIFs most have text on them as well.


The only other section is “About,” which has a short synopsis along with a cast list.

The movie also had a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Those profiles were smartly recycled from the first installment.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There was a bit of TV advertising done with spots like this one that essentially condensed the trailers and pulled out what the marketers felt were the strongest gags. So they’re light on plot, just giving the barest of outlines about the mission to Miami and Ben’s upcoming wedding and sticking to Hart getting kicked, punched and otherwise punished.

I’m sure there was online advertising done as well though I didn’t see any of it myself.

In terms of cross-promotions, Lyft signed on and ran a contest offering a trip to the movie’s Miami premiere. That was about it.

Media and Publicity

There was a bit of press like this story where the two leads talked about how much fun they had working together again and so on, but that’s about it. The cast went on a brief tour to talk about the movie in local outlets that I’m sure generated coverage in those cities and which was promoted on the film’s social channels but outside of that and the Miami premiere I don’t see a big press push here.

ride-along-2 2


As I mentioned a few times above, the point of the campaign is not necessarily to sell anyone on any particular plot point or story element. It’s not even to sell the target audience on there being much of a story at all. No, the main point of the campaign is just to make the audience aware there’s a new movie and promise that if they enjoyed the first one this new installment will feature much of what they liked a couple years ago. Hart and Cube are here to make sure everyone has a good time and let’s not pay too much attention to the thin drapings of a plot.

With that in mind, the campaign sells the movie well. It promises lots of jokes at Hart’s expense, Cube acting like a hardass cop and all of that taking place in beautiful locations. My guess is there aren’t very many surprises in the movie itself since the trailers play so broadly I can’t imagine they don’t telegraph 80% of the story. It’s not bad if this kind of comedy is your thing, and like I said I laughed at a couple of the gags in the trailers. If you’re inclined to enjoy broad action comedies like this the campaign makes a strong case for you to see it in theaters this weekend.

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