an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Posts Tagged ‘movie’

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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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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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.

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Chanel No. 5: A Mini Movie

Posted by Rosepixie on May 19, 2010

This ad is from several years ago (2004, I believe), but it’s a little different and was a pretty big deal when it came out, so I wanted to talk a little about it.  It’s for Chanel No. 5, a very famous perfume, and was directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Nicole Kidman.

I found this ad to be kind of intriguing when it first came out.  It’s basically a three minute movie.  The story is simple, as it would have to be for such a short time span, but the film doesn’t feel that simple.  There are interesting elements from the costuming to the sets.

Throughout it all, however, you can never forget that it’s an ad for Chanel.  It may be a short movie, but this is more than just product placement – the brand is literally at the center of the action.  And yet it’s never mentioned by name.  No one ever says “Chanel”.  It’s right there in big, lit-up letters, but never spoken.  We know the ad is specifically for Chanel No. 5 perfume only because of the reference to “her perfume” in the voiceover as the camera zooms in on the diamond charm on the back of Kidman’s gown, which reads “No. 5”.

So even though it’s never said specifically out loud, there’s really never any question what this is an ad for (or even that it is an ad).  That coyness works in this instance, it helps to associate the product with the glamor and mystery that Kidman is evoking throughout the mini-movie ad.  And, presumably, the company is hoping that we, as consumers, will be more interested in the perfume because of those associations.  We’ll think that it’s the kind of perfume we should wear when we want to feel glamorous and mysterious.

And maybe it is.  After all, Chanel No. 5 has managed to maintain it’s status as an important player in the perfume industry for almost ninety years – no easy feat!

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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.

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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.

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Movie Monday: TiMER

Posted by Rosepixie on April 26, 2010

This is a poster that I came across recently for a movie I had not previously heard of called TiMER.

I found this an incredibly intriguing poster.  It’s simple, but a few details stand out.  The white dress and the phrase “the one” suggest this is a romantic comedy.  Interestingly, however, the guy is conspicuously not in the picture!  His hand is, but he isn’t.  This suggests that his identity is unknown.  Why?

The other detail that really stands out is on the woman’s wrist – the wrist holding the disembodied male hand.  It sort of looks like a watch, but if you look closely, it’s actually part of her or embedded into her skin, not something she’s wearing.  That really got me intrigued, since an embedded electronic device places this pretty squarely in the science fiction camp, which rarely mixes with the romantic comedy crowd due to the long-held and somewhat ridiculous idea that the two genres are incompatible (and that they are gendered oppositely, which is also pretty ridiculous, since genres don’t have genders).

So I’m hooked just from looking at a poster that is fundamentally little more than a woman with no background or context around her, just a red outline around the outside.  That’s great design work.  Whoever designed this poster did an amazing job.  This poster managed to take a movie I had never heard of and make it one I really want to see within a matter of maybe five minutes, just from having a few well placed details!

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Movie Monday: Death at a Funeral

Posted by Rosepixie on April 19, 2010

This is a trailer for the movie Death at a Funeral, which came out last week.

This is one of the those trailers that’s so busy showing us how every character is a walking joke (except the comedian starring in the movie, strangely enough) that it doesn’t spend any time telling us what the plot is.  Or if there even is one (although it sort of seems like there is if you pay attention, it just doesn’t make any sense from what’s in the trailer).  The result is that the movie seems like a giant running joke with very little point.

So why does this trailer think we should come see this movie?  Well, they’re hoping we laughed at one or more of the jokes (which are likely chosen for the trailer specifically because they are some of the most visual, self-contained and over-the-top) and will want to laugh more.  They’re also hoping that we’ll say “ooh!  I like her/his acting/comedy/movies/whatever” and will come see the movie because an actor we like is in it.

But is a throw-away joke and an actor who’s name we recognize enough for most people?  Probably not, since movies marketed like this are rarely run-away box office successes (if you go back and watch the trailers for the best selling movies of the past few years, most don’t follow this model).  So why do marketers keep doing it?  Is it really that hard to make a good trailer for a comedy?  It seems like it must be, but I can’t fathom why that would be exactly.  Any ideas?  And does anybody know of any really great examples of good trailers for comedies?  I’d love to feature some, but I’m coming up blank on that and would love some suggestions!

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