Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 LiE Awards: Film Marketing


As the year 2009 comes to a close you'll see a new series find its way onto the Life in Equinox blog. The 2009 LiE Awards will recap the year's best in marketing, songs, dialogue, acting, directing, and of course all culminating in my selections for the best films of the year. Of course there will always be films I won't get to see until some time later, so as always the only rule is that I've seen each movie (based on the respective category). Though don't worry we'll take plenty of time out to point out the year's real duds along the way, just to make sure you don't miss any.

To kick things off I thought I'd go with Film Marketing. Let's be honest marketing is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of film. Without it how would anyone know about your movie? The follow assessment is based on my personal views of how each film managed to make its case for viewers to watch the film. As a personal note the quality of each movie is not taken into account (though at times it obviously helps).

Category One: Most Generic Marketing

3. Old Dogs - Uninspired is the only word I can think of, and rightly so. Slow motion unveiling, two second plot synopsis, followed by a series of slapstick jokes mean to entice the viewer. It worked, kind of, but let's be honest the marketing jokes (dog in poster) were so poorly chosen it's no wonder it didn't flop.

2. Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian -
So bland and uninspiring I would almost imagine the commercials for this were done via a market by numbers scheme at a kindergarten. Actor, cut, Actor, cut, Actor, cut, They're Back, cut, explosion, cut, title, cut, funny joke, cut, date. Roll them on out!

The Winner: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen -
There was quite literally nothing inspired about the marketing strategy for the latest Transformers installment. No statement of plot (rightly so), no notification of what was going on, just the most basic of tactics, a series of random explosions, followed by one slow motion shot and the title. If you want I can go light off fire crackers in the back yard for 2 minutes and get the same effect.

Honorable Mentions: GI Joe Rise of Cobra, 9, Wolverine

Category 2: Most Fun Marketing

3. (500) Days of Summer - The solid use of the film's premise, the great intertwining of enjoyable moments was just enough to put smiles on peoples' faces and bring them to the theater. It doesn't hurt that the movie just oozes charm right through the commercial.

2. Zombieland -
While the commercials most undoubtedly showed off too many of the best jokes, they were absolutely hilarious and really brought in the target audience like few films this year.

The Winner: Up -
I know I'm a bit cheesy but the grumpy old man, the flying house, the kid outside, the people behind up managed to take 30 seconds from a massive series of individuals and make everyone beg to know the release date. Not to mention the first time I saw it I could hardly stop laughing.

Honorable Mentions: Inglourious Basterds, Where the Wild Things Are, 2012, The Men Who Stare at Goats

Category 3: Best Posters

3. Cold Souls

2. Food Inc.

The Winner: Blue Gold

Honorable Mentions: Terminator Salvation, The Horsemen (non-American poster design), Inglourious Basterds, In the Loop, Thirst

Category 4: Worst Marketing Campaign

3. Moon - Why does one of my favorite films get the nod for worst marketing campaign? Because there was none. Zero, zilch, nada. The only way I knew it was playing in my town was by a freak chance of luck. It's an amazing film, get yourself together and put $15 bucks behind marketing it!

2. Law Abiding Citizen - If I had a category for greatest effort to confuse its audience before going in Law Abiding Citizen would take the cake several times over. There were about 15 different commercials ranging from concentrating on him being a CIA super assassin to him being a regular family man just trying to get revenge. On the plus side nobody knew what they were going to see, on the downside nobody cared.

1. The Winner (or Loser): Pirate Radio -
I have to be honest I didn't even have to think about this twice. It was horrible. From the awful name change from The Boat that Rocked to Pirate Radio, to the horrible "One American showed them how to Rock" marketing campaign, this marketing effort induced more gags than my cooking, and now that's saying something. Of course the fact that it managed to drop a box office dud the size of Texas does have to play into account.

(Dis)-Honorable Mentions: Terminator Salvation (yelling overload), G.I. Joe Rise of Cobra (you'd think $150million would buy you more), Year One.

*drumroll everyone* now let's leave the rest and get to what we all came for:

Category 5: Best Marketing

3. Inglourious Basterds - How do you market a conversation based, quasi action film, that deals with scalping, extreme violence, and touchy subject matter? You put together a great marketing campaign. Solid viral support, perfectly random and entertaining commercials, and top it off with some top notch poster design. It attracted just about every type of viewer and managed to make money despite some pre-release woes.

2. Paranormal Activity - How do you market a film nobody knows anything about, with actors nobody knows about, and a director whose never done anything before? You create what may be the most successful marketing campaign in years. Heck with the movie, let's show the audience! Combining great use of audience scares with a creative, you demand it, online marketing ploy, this movie put butts in seats, and make more money than it could ever have dreamed of.



Benefiting heavily from a well put together film, no other movie utilized all the aspects of marketing as well as this 2009 Science Fiction film. With amazing posters that put you right into the thick of the events, great use of documentary style commercials to hit your curiosity bone, and action packed moments to entice all types of viewers, District 9 caught the attention of every film goer. Now no matter what you say, that's how it's done!

That wraps it up for this, first ever, installment. Be sure you let me know what I missed, or what you think I got wrong. The next installment is only a few days away so be sure you get those comments in ASAP!

7 better thoughts:

Alex said...

Excellent choices! I totally agree- where the hell was the Moon advertising? Sheesh. I don't think Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus has any either, but I guess that suits for a film stuck in distribution hell for a year.

The Cold Souls poster is one of my favorites of the year too, though I'd also add the In The Loop and Thirst posters.

TheAnswerMVP2001 said...

Best poster of the year is The Unborn... hands down, definitely beats that water jug you have there for #1.

Univarn said...

@Alex I completely forgot about the In the Loop poster! had to throw that in for honorable mentions. I debated putting in Dr. Parnassus but there isn't a lot of buzz around it, nor is it hitting many top 10 lists so figured it's marketing to results ratio was closer than Moon.

@MVP eh. Water Jug Grenade is awesome, don't hate! I remember you mentioning the Unborn before, and I did look at it, but when it came down to it, it was just a beautiful girl in underwear looking in the mirror. Hardly revolutionary poster design.

TheAnswerMVP2001 said...

It's still better than a water jug, who'd want to hang that on their wall... except for you? ;o)

thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

I'm with you on District 9 - an definite success. Not seen the water jug or the Cold Souls poster. Both pretty cool I must say.

Emma said...

Blue Gold's poster is so eye-catching!

Carolyn said...

Hi Ryan - totally not related to your Marketing post (which was a good read by the way) but I saw that It's A Wonderful Life as in your top ten films list. I wrote a holiday song called George Bailey, all about the man and movie, would love for you to take a listen on my website or watch the youtube video below. Thanks and happy holidays to you all!

Carolyn Sills

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