I can guarantee I’m not the only one spending time in lockdown watching films. Netflix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime are coming in very handy right now! If I’m being honest though, I’ve always been an avid film fan and something that I really love when it comes to the release of a film is how it has been marketed.
It’s not easy creating a blockbuster film. So much money, time and hard work goes into each one and when you look at the amount of films released each year, it’s important for studios to go above and beyond to create excitement and awareness of their own.
That’s why when it comes to the release of a film, the marketing and PR behind it matters just as much as the film itself.
Over the years there have been some clever and memorable marketing campaigns, and now it’s time to have a look at three of my favourites that got people talking.
The marketing campaigns behind both Deadpool films have been clever, witty, and at times, rather inappropriate. But of course, that tied in perfectly with the tone of the film and the character!
In the lead up to both films, especially the first, Deadpool was EVERYWHERE. Various trailers, TV spots, promotional videos and posters were released and shared all over the internet. The campaign for Deadpool (2016) gave you a real taste of what to expect more from the character than the film itself – especially in that first image released, where he parodies Burt Reynolds’ famous Cosmopolitan photoshoot.
Other tactics included cleverly rebranding the film as a rom-com for posters and billboards, as it was released on Valentine’s Day, teaming up with Man United and one of my favourites – changing already existing DVD covers for films such as X-Men, Fight Club and The Terminator, but replacing characters with, you guessed it, Deadpool.
The campaigns were both so much fun and I do believe that a huge part of them being so successful was down to Ryan Reynolds’ humour – not every actor could have pulled that off!
BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
I think it’s fair to say that the marketing for The Blair Witch Project paved the way for viral marketing campaigns as we know them today, and should be acknowledged as one of the best. Looking back it probably seems quite simple but considering it was done in 1999, and basically unheard of at the time, it was definitely effective.
The film was marketed as a serious documentary. At the heart of the campaign was a website which delved into the history of the Blair Witch legend in the woods of rural Maryland, making it look like it was a real myth long before the release of the film. Other pages were dedicated to the missing students Heather, Michael and Josh, and interviews with their families and police were shared.
As well as online marketing there was also a huge push with print media as missing person posters and leaflets were distributed around college campuses.
Every tactic used in the campaign established uncertainty among the public as to whether this was real or not, and got people talking so much that the film became one of the highest grossing independent films to date, and one of the most successful in terms of profit.
When the first trailer for Cloverfield hit in summer 2007, it instantly got people talking. All filmed on a video camera a party scene descends into chaos when an explosion hits the city, forcing crowds to the streets in a panic. The disembodied head of the Statue of Liberty falls right into the middle of the road, someone screams “I saw it! It’s alive! It’s huge!” And the screen goes black. There’s not even a hint at a title, only a release date of the 18th of January 2008.
Film fans were instantly sent into a frenzy after the mysterious trailer was released, taking to the internet to try and find any information they could which proved difficult, especially because in spite of being their logo appearing on the trailer, Paramount Pictures did not initially acknowledge that the film or project even existed.
Information on the world that J.J. Abrams had created wasn’t easy to find but it did exist, and was distributed through an alternate reality game (ARG for short). This meant that websites were an integral part to the campaign. The first to be discovered was that of ‘www.1-18-08.com’ (the date of release) which included mysterious photos that were time timestamped with the release date. It got people asking – what happened? Myspace pages for each of the characters were also set up, as well as other sites for Japanese drink ‘Slusho’ and its parent company ‘Tagruato’, which linked to the world of the film.
The ARG for Cloverfield was clever as it managed to give film fans information on the world and its characters, without actually giving too much away on the film itself. I remember being so excited as I walked into the cinema because even though I felt like I knew all of this information – I still had no real clue what to expect! It was a clever campaign that people still talk about to this day.
So there we have 3 of my favourite and 3 of the most talked about marketing campaigns for films over the years. The marketing campaign for The Dark Knight (2008) is also one of my favourites and was initially going to feature in this post but I realised that actually, it deserves its own – so look out for that on the blog soon.
What has been one of your favourite movie marketing campaigns?