Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Best Marketing Campaign of 2011 Already Wrapped Up?

As those of you who have followed my blog for any considerable time are aware, I pay a lot of attention to how movies are marketed towards audiences. Consider it partially an obsession of mine to understand exactly why studios - or indeed products in general - opt to pick the method they pick when hoping to latch a few new customers. After all, you'd imagine their products would be completely capable of selling themselves on their own merits, right? (if you can't stop laughing at the moment, no fear that's the right reaction).

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. And I dare say, all in all, 2011 has been a right crummy year for marketing. Oh look, it's a monologue leading into a sequence of fast paced cuts followed by a snarky remark and illegible credits. That's the film I'm going to go see. Definitely not that other one which started with a fast sequence of cuts and then trailed off into a monologue followed by more fast cuts. And definitely not that kind of slow one which kept throwing up this words in quotation marks cited by people I haven't heard of. Really, John Johnson of WRAK-109.9 NAVANIMO says this is "must see." Nay, I say!

And the worst product of all of them these days? Cell phones. Seriously watch some of the bigger cell phone commercials these days and calculate how many are actually selling "buy this phone and you'll be the biggest asshole on the block!" I'd wager it to be between 30 and 50 percent.

But to get back on subject. Film marketing in 2011 to me has basically boiled down to two films. You have Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which has solid and invigorating commercials, but admittedly a much better poster campaign, and The Muppets. Yes, that's right, The Muppets. Why? Because they've done something no other film campaign has done for me this year - made me excited about their trailers. To put this context, I don't think I could even get to all five fingers were I to count the number of times I've been excited about a trailer in the last few years. So, whether or not the campaign is ultimately indicative of a movie that's not really worth showing in its entirety, or a lovely tease to the kind of broad humor one will receive upon viewing it, I'm quite taken by The Muppets' campaign.

The parodies are smart, suitable for the content, and appropriately scaled. They appear to a wide range of age groups and genders, but are uniquely geared to that teen to early twenty audience. An odd group to be marketing towards, but not that strange when you think about it. The Muppets doesn't really need to market itself to children, nor parents. They're the easy ones to sell on the whole experience. Besides, this is the same group that has flocked week after week just to see The Smurfs on name value alone (because I can't envision them having seen a commercial and gone 'yes, that's what I want to see'). So, as far as The Muppets are concerned, that's money in the bank. Which leaves the middle age to elderly - who let's be honest, aren't going to go see The Muppets unless they're sucked into the aforementioned grouping - and the teens to early twenties grouping.

Why not market to them? After all, there's plenty of them out there with a heavy dose of nostalgia having grown up with the '90s Muppets push of The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and Muppets from Space. Of course you also have to wager in that none of those films were all the successful either. Muppet Treasure Island lead the pack with a measly $34 million on a $23 million budget. So I think there's quite a bit of pressure on this installment to return The Muppets to their glorious form. Which amusingly enough has never been much at the box office. In 1984 with The Muppets Take Manhattan, they finished a respectable, but minimal 39th in the Box Office - worse than Cannonball Run II, and only one slot better than the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Their 1981 flair, The Great Muppet Caper only fared a weee bit better, clocking in at 21st for the year.

So, what do they have to lose? Obviously their campaigns in the past haven't been able to be the draw. Though I would contend they've had a bad habit of releasing their films too close to other family films with much bigger draws. This year, not so much. I don't see Happy Feet Two, which comes out the week before, carrying over and taking out the thunder. Puss in Boots and Alvin and the Chipmunks 3 are safely on either side of the film by three weeks. Let's be fair, Arthur Christmas doesn't really have a shot and Piranha 3DD isn't going to cut into its marketplace. Which pretty much leaves Scorsese's Hugo as the potential kryptonite. As much as I love Scorsese, this film is a bit of an enigma to predict.

Even still, none of these change the fact that I've found The Muppets marketing campaign to be a fun experience. Very seldom do I leave a trailer and think "that was worth the time to view it" - even though I'm compulsive about being at the theater in time to view them - and these I have, in each passing release. And as far as compliments from me go, that's about as high of one as I give to marketing departments.

6 better thoughts:

NeverTooEarlyMP said...

So true. Not only have the trailers been the best we've seen, but I also like that they don't give away the entire plot of the movie like many trailers seem to do these days. And since most trailers just copy each other anyway (monologue, fast paced cuts, illegible credits as you say), the muppets are at least intentional about it and takes it on in a way that lets the audience be in on the gag, instead of being taken advantage of.

Castor said...

Yea, The Muppets campaign is definitely the most memorable in recent memory. One thing that seems to have appeared fairly recently is actors presenting the trailer before it starts. Studios should give that up immediately.

Simon said...

Can a trailer reference its own trailers? Is that allowed?

These are the questions that haunt me every damn time the things come on.

Anonymous said...

I've loved all of these ads. It's funny, though- I had them pegged as aiming right at the adults, parodying films that mostly adults will have seen (though I suppose the "adult" category also includes the 18-25 demographic you reference).

What it mostly amounts to is that the Muppets have been so endearing for so long to so many generations. Anyone aged 18 to 70 can either appreciate having grown up with or raised children with a Muppet incarnation, be it the schlocky 90's movies, the brief re-boot of the show in the mid-90's, the original run of the show in the 70's and 80's, the first round of movies...

Kermit's been a pimp for a long time.

simoncolumb said...

If I think back to last year, the INCEPTION trailer was awesome ... and THE SOCIAL NETWORK was VERY good (even completely copied by DOWNTON ABBEY in their adverts) but, yeah, i don't think there are many good ones this year. Having said that, I haven't watched that many.

Fitz said...

I love it. These are some of the best trailers around.

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