Movie Marketing Madness: Fifty Shades Darker

fifty_shades_darker_ver2Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) are back in Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey. Like the first movie, this one is based on a book of the same name that white women everywhere swore to everyone who wasn’t their brunch buddy that they weren’t reading.

The story continues to follow Anastasia, this time as she’s out from under Christian’s domineering influence. But a sequence of events brings him back into her world and of course the two wind up getting back together for more sexy funtime. The twist, though, is that Christian’s ex Elina (Kim Basinger) is in the picture to warn Anastasia that while Christian may say he’s changed, it doesn’t work like that. The details of the story don’t really matter as it’s all about fantasy fulfillment.

The Posters

fifty_shades_darker“Slip into something a shade darker” we’re told on the first one-sheet. We see Gray in the background affixing a mask to Anastasia’s face, which is staring straight into the camera like she’s looking into a mirror. It’s all very washed out and lit to diffuse color and is just about raising awareness in the audience that things are going to get even weirder this time out.

The masked ball is featured again on the second poster. This time we see the two characters dancing, him unmasked while she still wears hers and looks toward the camera. “Every fairy tale has a dark side” is the copy on this one, which continues to try and sell the movie as a high class affair with beautiful dresses and fancy gatherings, not big-budget late-night Cinemax.

Five character posters showed off everyone from the cast, most all of them sporting the masks they wear at the ball that’s featured prominently in the trailers and the rest just having their faces obscured by the shadows and light.

The Trailers

That same “Slip into something a shade darker” line is used at the beginning of the first trailer. We get the setup, that Christian and Annastasia haven’t been together for a while but he wants her back, which of course she submits to and they start up their torrid affair. But secrets begin to come out that threatens to upset that.

It’s ridiculous and it will sell a million tickets. That’s all I have to say about that.

Lots more kink on display in the second trailer, which again sets it up as Gray and Anastasia reconnecting after parting ways. He tells her to take her panties off in the middle of a restaurant, the two have an awkward encounter in a crowded elevator and more. We get some exposition that another man in her life – the relationship isn’t clear – doesn’t believe Gray is good for her and see more of her being warned away from him along with more shots of the mysterious teenage girl that keeps appearing.

It’s ridiculous and it will sell a million tickets. That’s all I have to say about that.

A third “extended trailer” (which was actually shorter than the other two) kept things going. Nothing all that new here and the hype around it seemed to be around the song that was used, a collaboration between Zayn Malik and Taylor Swift. Other than that it’s largely the same stuff seen in the previous efforts.

Online and Social

The movie’s official website is built on Tumblr and there’s a box of prompts in the upper right of the front page encouraging you to follow that blog as well as connect with it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Scroll down the page and “Social” is the first content section, allowing you to download and share a variety of GIFs and images. After that is “Videos” and is where you can watch all the trailers as well as the lyric video for the Zayn/Taylor Swift song that’s featured prominently in the campaign.

There are sections with a “Story” recap and a “Cast” list, both of which are separated by more GIFs and other images. Links accessible via the drop-down menu in the upper left will let you access a page with details on the soundtrack as well as information on a VR experience that launched just a few days ago to take viewers inside the movie’s world.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots debuted first during the broadcast of the Latin Grammys. Further spots kept emphasizing how the story will involve Christian’s past coming back to haunt him as he tries to change from the total dick he is to something resembling a human person who doesn’t get off on exercising power and domination over women.

The trailers and other videos were promoted through paid social media ads. Online ads drove ticket sales and outdoor ads used the key art to keep interest and awareness up, letting everyone know that the sequel was on its way.

Media and Publicity

Johnson made the talk-show rounds, playing games with Fallon and so on and generally having fun with the idea of the movie being so overly sexualized. Both she and Dornan did the rest of the press circuit as well to talk about the movie’s themes and story.

Interestingly, some of that may have resulted in what was reported as a gag order on the movie’s cast, who were told to stop having such fun with the sexy elements of the story but to take it seriously during all press interviews.

fifty-shades-darker-pic

Overall

Let’s just acknowledge that I’m not in the target demographic for this movie. I have no desire to see the first one, read the source books or anything else. This is not meant for me in any way, shape or form. But putting that aside, this is basically hitting the same notes as the campaign for the first movie and that was a huge hit, so it makes sense to pluck arrows from the same quiver the second time around.What’s most surprising is that there doesn’t seem to be anything noticeable in the campaign that hints at

What’s most surprising is that there doesn’t seem to be anything noticeable in the campaign that hints at recognition of or reaction to the criticism to the first movie. That came under fire for being about as woke as a doormat regarding women, putting them in the place of wanting to be dominated and essentially abused both physically and emotionally if it means someone will love them. So it’s odd to see that the marketing here keeps that going, showing that Anastasia is ready and willing to throw away the good life she’s built up since leaving Christian as soon as he bats his eyes and demands she take off her underwear.

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