an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Zatanna: Mistress of Magic

Posted by Rosepixie on June 22, 2010

Last month DC Comics started a series focusing on the character Zatanna who is a stage magician with real magic powers.  To advertise this new comic, they’ve been using these two banner ads online.

What I love about these banner ads is that they have the feel of old carnival posters, which is very in line with Zatanna’s character and theme.  Even better, they’ve carried this idea through to the actual covers of the comic as well!  This is the cover of the second issue.

I love the poster feel and I could see the cover actually being a poster.  Actually, they should totally make poster versions of this cover.  Sadly, they probably won’t, since Zatanna doesn’t have a red S or a bat on her chest.  Too bad.

Basically, I think this is one of the most appealing, appropriate marketing campaigns I’ve seen from DC in a very long time.  I hope they keep doing interesting and fun things like this!  These are the kinds of marketing campaigns that make me want to read new comics!

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You Again: Betty White Saves the Day

Posted by Rosepixie on June 21, 2010

This is a trailer for the movie You Again.

This is one of those trailers that gives you a situation rather than a plot and you’re sort of left wondering if the whole movie is just the situation from the trailer drawn out longer or if there is actually more plot and for some reason we just aren’t getting shown what it is.  The problem is that both types of movies exist and one type really works (the type with a plot) and the other usually doesn’t (the type that’s just a situation drawn out for an hour and a half).  So how are we supposed to know from this trailer if the movie is of the first type, and thus more worth seeing?

Luckily for this particular movie, they had Betty White and while the people who made the trailer may not have made the most compelling trailer for the first two minutes and fifteen seconds or so, the last clip with her was brilliantly chosen.  It stands on it’s own, is surprisingly funny and showcases a humor and actress that we haven’t seen throughout the rest of the trailer.  She may not have completely saved this trailer or even made the nature of the movie any less confusing, but Betty White’s brief moment of humor at the end there made the movie more appealing and memorable and that just might be enough to get a few more people to see it than otherwise would have.

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Movie Monday: Killers

Posted by Rosepixie on June 14, 2010

This is a trailer for the movie Killers.

What bothered me most about this trailer was that it didn’t tell us the major point of the movie (that the guy is a spy or something like it) until more than half way through the trailer!  I have trouble believing that the movie is divided that way, since a movie that is a romantic comedy until a little beyond the half-way point and then turns into a guns-explosions-and-car-chases action comedy doesn’t sound like the most balanced or enjoyable movie (and Hollywood likes things to fit into neat little genre boxes and that, clearly, doesn’t do so).

So why does the trailer portray it that way?  If it’s an action comedy, which is what I’m guessing it actually is, why is the trailer mostly focused on the romantic meeting and getting together part at the beginning?  That kind of feels like a trailer for Betwitched that spent half it’s time focused on how Samantha and Darren met and fell in love and then more than half-way through told us that Samantha was a witch and showed some clips of her trying to use, but also hide, her powers.  See the problem?  It wouldn’t really be a trailer for Betwitched, it would be a trailer for the opening sequence of the first episode of Betwitched.

I don’t want a trailer to tell me the whole movie before I go and see it, but I do want it to give me some idea of what I’m getting into.  This doesn’t feel like it’s doing that, since it left me wondering what I actually should expect from Killers – a romantic comedy that happens to have some guns, or something more like Mr. and Mrs. Smith which was a spy/action movie that happened to have some romance in it.

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Meanwhile: A Book of Many Paths

Posted by Rosepixie on June 13, 2010

This is the cover of the book Meanwhile by Jason Shiga.

I love this cover.  I think that it does such a great job of conveying the idea of there being multiple choices and paths throughout the book without being overwhelming.  It also works well with the title, since the images aren’t really aligned sequentially at all, so it’s easy to read them happening at overlapping times.  The character in the middle ties it all together, keeping the cover from being too visually busy, and again helping to convey that there is a lot going on and he needs your help!

Books where the reader gets to make choices and direct the story are so much fun, but it’s hard to convey the concept on the cover.  Most cover designers never even try – they just put a regular cover with an illustration of a scene from the book and the title, series and author information.  This one, however, manages to have all the required information on the cover and convey the style the book is in at the same time.  Since this is a children’s book, it’s even more likely that the readers who come across the book are going to be unfamiliar with this type of book, so the fact that it’s somewhat evident from the cover what the general idea is helps a lot.  It’s also bright and the art style is unique and eye-catching (it’s not a style we see often on book covers).

As a cover, I think this works great.  It tells you about the book and about the experience of reading the book – both important pieces of information.  It also grabs your attention right away and makes you wonder what’s going on (I certainly want to know what’s happing in some of those little pictures!).  As marketing for this book, I think this cover is fantastic.  The “Choose Your Own Adventure” series and others like it could learn a lot from this cover!

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Movie Monday: Eat Pray Love

Posted by Rosepixie on June 7, 2010

This is a poster for the upcoming movie version of Eat Pray Love.

I stared that this poster for a long time before deciding to talk about it here.  The thing is, this poster bugs me.  A lot.  And it took me a while to figure out exactly why.

It’s the nun.  I don’t think that the nun belongs in this poster.  In fact, I think she’s there deliberately and it bugs me even more now that I realize she’s the problem here.  The thing about Eat Pray Love is that it’s a memoir very specifically divided into three sections: eat, pray and love.  Each one follows the author’s journey to a different country and focuses very much on a different thing.  “Eat” focuses on her travels to Italy and, obviously, is in large part focused on her explorations of different dishes and foods.  “Pray” focuses on her travels to India and her spiritual quest there, which is not (obviously, since it’s in Italy and not the Vatican City) centered around Catholicism.  “Love” takes place in Indonesia and tells about her taking a lover there.

I’m pretty sure the nun is in this poster so that Julia Roberts eating gelato isn’t just representing the “eat” portion of the story, but that the poster can also evoke the “pray” part.  The problem is that it’s deceptive and makes me suspicious of the movie’s adaption of the book.  It’s deceptive because it suggests that “pray” has something to do with the Christian religion, which it doesn’t really.  It makes me suspicious because I have to wonder if Hollywood changed the story so that it does.

This may all sound like nitpicking, but in a country full of people who assume that the world is Christian and nothing that isn’t Christian is religious this kind of message is powerful.  Even subtle messages matter (hopefully if you’ve been reading this blog for a while that isn’t a new idea), and subtle message that I got from this poster was a continued marginalization of anything that wasn’t Christian.  There are so many ways they could have evoked Italy and food without Christian imagery and ways they could evoke India and her spiritual journey as well, but this is what they chose?  I just find it frustrating and disappointing.  We can do better and we should expect better.

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Movie Monday: Waking Sleeping Beauty

Posted by Rosepixie on May 31, 2010

This is a trailer for a documentary that is out now about the Disney animated movie making team from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s.  It’s called Waking Sleeping Beauty.

I think that this trailer does a great job.  It starts out with one of the most famous scenes from one of Disney’s most famous movies (and the movie that really started their revival at the point in time this movie focuses on), which gets their audience engaged and interested right off the bat.  Then the trailer shows some of the most recognizable and famous of the people who worked there at the time (John Lasseter, Tim Burton, etc.) and shows the team having fun and working on some of the movies we tend to remember best.

This trailer really plays on Disney nostalgia, but it also doesn’t shy away from the fact that they were in real trouble at the time and that their movies were seriously flopping (the line about how they lost to the Care Bears movie was especially good).  The footage isn’t fantastic, but supposedly a lot of the documentary is like that because that’s what they had to work with – home video quality footage.

Most of the documentary trailers I watch are either too boring to promise too much (I’m sorry, but it’s unlikely that watching a documentary about the lifespan of whales is going to be a revelation of some kind for most people, even if it’s an amazing documentary on the topic).  This one is engaging and honest about its topic.  I think that they did a great job with it.  They made me want to watch the movie both to learn more about how they did manage to go from making movies that tanked to blockbusters that are still ranked among favorites constantly and to see just what it was like to work there and make movies for Disney.  This isn’t something I thought I’d be especially interested in, but the trailer managed to pique my interest in a way that most documentary trailers don’t.  I wish that more were able to do that.

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Barbie: Trying to Claim a Song

Posted by Rosepixie on May 27, 2010

In 1997 Aqua came out with the song “Barbie Girl”, which has become incredibly popular and nearly instantly recognizable over the years since.  That same year Mattel sued the group for copyright and trademark infringement over the song, claiming that it slandered Barbie and turned her into a “blonde bimbo” and a sex object.  They lost their lawsuit and their appeal.  Recently, however, they appear to be trying to claim the song as their own and have used clips of it with altered lyrics in commercials and just this year released a “music video” starring the doll herself singing her version of the song.  Here’s Barbie’s music video version of (a very altered) “Barbie Girl”.

I think it’s more than a little hypocritical of Mattel to sue over this song and then use it in their own marketing.  They must be licencing it from Aqua, which means they’re paying for the right to use it.  This means that they’re now paying for the right to use (and alter) a song that they were previously very much against.  The fact that they’ve changed the lyrics quite a bit suggests that they’re still not terribly fond of the song, either.  And since Mattel never mentions that the lyrics have been changed, I have to wonder if they hope people will learn their version instead of the original.

Looking at just the music video itself, without any of the politics around it, I’m not that impressed.  I still get the impression that Barbie isn’t that brilliant or deep.  And the problem isn’t actually the doll herself.  I think if they’d stuck to all dolls in the video, they might have been fine.  The problem is that the outfits Barbie and her friends can get away with just fine look really trashy on the real people in the ad.  The real people doing the choreography in the doll-like outfits does evoke “bimbos” and sex objects, not “an inspiration” or “a star” while the dolls look perfectly fine!

I think this was a pretty big misstep for Mattel.  I can understand wanting to use a song that evokes their doll and is already so popular.  The problem is that they’ve got so much history with that song that isn’t pretty (and was only a decade ago, so not as forgotten as I’m sure they’d like it to be, either) and then their execution of the song actually seems to evoke more of the negative qualities that they were originally fighting against than the original did, despite their changes to the lyrics!  While it might have been possible for Mattel to use this song to good effect, this was definitely not it.  Hopefully they’ll do better next time.

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Movie Monday: Splice

Posted by Rosepixie on May 24, 2010

This is a poster for the upcoming movie Splice.

I honestly wouldn’t have batted an eye at this poster if it weren’t for the fact that I just recently saw the preview for the same movie.  The preview was pretty unremarkable (generic technology/science-turned-monster movie trailer), but it did seem to go to remarkable lengths to not really show us the clone creature herself, as if seeing what she looked like was one of the reasons to see the movie.

But apparently it isn’t, since here she is on the poster.  And there’s a foreign poster (German, I think, but I’m not positive of that) that just has a full-length shot of her naked.

So all I can think here is that either the department making the trailer and the department making the posters aren’t communicating (which is a giant marketing failure, since a coherent campaign is generally a good thing) or the fact that you don’t get to see her in the trailer was more by accident than anything.  And when your movie focuses on a unique creature, you’d better be sure to pay attention to how and when the creature is revealed in your marketing, since it’s going to make a difference.

As it is, I think they are both fine (if unremarkable) pieces of movie marketing.  They just don’t work together at all.

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Movie Monday: Prince of Persia

Posted by Rosepixie on May 17, 2010

This is a trailer for the upcoming movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

The visual part of this trailer is pretty typical for an action movie trailer – shots of the main characters, a few brief clips of places, and lots of action clips that move almost too fast to really show much of anything other than that there’s action in the movie.  And the movie looks very pretty.  Great sets with elaborate, crumbling buildings for the hero to try and avoid being crushed by, soaring Persian temples and exotic fantastical costumes.

But that’s not what I primarily noticed about this trailer.  The main thing I came away with from this trailer was that almost no one but the Princess said anything and she talked throughout the entire thing.  Now maybe she does sort of narrate the movie, but the dialog was so constant in the trailer that it almost got annoying.  There’s a point at which there’s just too much information to really take in and you have to wonder if it’s all necessary.  Her voice is beautiful and pleasant to listen to, but did we need it running over all of those action sequences?  And why didn’t the hero himself get to talk?

I don’t think that the voice over seriously hurt this trailer, but I do think that the trailer would have been improved if they had cut back on it a bit.

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Movie Monday: Date Night

Posted by Rosepixie on May 10, 2010

These are two posters for the recent movie Date Night.

I think that these are fundamentally both pretty boring posters that don’t actually tell us much about the movie, despite the tattered clothing, but as a pair I find them extremely interesting.

Steve Carell looks essentially the same to me in both posters – same size, same amount of tatteredness (the tatterdness just varies a bit in the details between the two images).  Tina Fey, however, appears vastly differently in the two different posters.  She’s dramatically less tattered in the second poster (although she looks rather less tattered than Carell in both and somehow appears perfect despite the obvious trauma her dress and hair have recently suffered).

Interestingly, Fey is also considerably thinner in the first poster!  Her dress appears to fall to just below her knees in both (and appears to be the same dress), but the dress in the first poster has very different proportions than the dress in the second poster.  It appears that the photo that was used for the first poster was stretched considerably (which is actually fairly common practice in celebrity photos).  She has more cleavage in the first poster as well (perhaps they drew it in – another surprisingly common practice).

But why did they stretch the photo so much for the first poster and not for the second?  As far as I can tell, the top poster came out before the bottom one did and I have seen no evidence of outrage or anything about the stretching (I actually probably wouldn’t have noticed if it weren’t for the side-by-side comparison and I doubt many other people would have either).  I actually think she looks better in the second photo, but I’m not sure that has anything to do with the stretching or not.  I just think that the dress looks better on her in the second photo and that there’s something funny about her left arm in the first one that isn’t a problem in the second.

As an ad for the movie I think this is pretty weak – it shows little beyond two actors standing there and an incredibly generic title.  I’m assuming that this is a comedy based on the actors portrayed and the distressed clothing, which is unusual for a date, but other than that, I know basically nothing about the movie after looking at these posters.  And from just that, I really don’t have enough to pay for tickets to see it.  The two do make for an interesting side-by-side, though, and I wish I knew what the thinking behind their creations was.

Posted in Entertainment | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
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