“We’re getting the band back together” seems to be the main focus of Pitch Perfect 3. After going their separate ways, the members of the Barden Bellas find that adulting is hard and nothing makes them feel as good as singing in a college a cappella group did. Not only that, but a new generation has come along and taken the group’s title, reminding them of how old they’re getting and how their lives aren’t turning out as expected.
At a get together with Beca (Anna Kendrick), Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson), Aubrey (Anna Camp) and the others, Chloe (Brittany Snow) suggests they try to get aboard a USO tour of Europe, bringing their vocal stylings to the troops. Heading overseas presents an opportunity to not only recapture former glory but also get into a whole new set of hijinks and outrageous situations.
The same kind of group shot that’s been seen on the posters for the first two movies is used here as well, lending a nice consistent brand through-line to the series. All the main girls are shown wearing leather jackets and looking appropriately touch. “Last call, Pitches.” is the call to action to the audience.
The first trailer opens with the judges/commentators played by Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins stalking Beca, part of their reporting on where all the Bellas are now, which is not all sunshine and roses. Everyone’s just barely making ends meet, sometimes in demeaning jobs. We see Chloe throw out the idea of the USO tour, which puts them in competition with real bands. We see that they not only have some singing to do but also are wrapped up in some sort of espionage plot, which is massively confusing and seems out of character.
It’s alright and certainly promises a good time with familiar characters, but that military subplot comes out of nowhere. Why are Beca and Amy jumping off a submarine? Why is there gunfire? Were there no non-action oriented ideas anyone could come up with? that could be a real problem.
The second trailer is a much better, more understandable and less confusing effort. The Bellas reunite for what they think is a performance but turns out to not be, which embarrasses everyone. They decide to go out with a bang, getting themselves on the USO performance schedule. Once there, of course, they vie for position and stature with the other bands while Becca is also picked out to receive a record deal, something that causes tension within the group.
There’s the usual dynamic within the group, which is what people want to see. There are only a couple scenes that deal with the strange military/spy plot the first trailer was focused so heavily on, which is good.
Online and Social
The movie’s official website opens with a full-color version of the key art used on the poster, with a prompt to get tickets in the lower right of the front page.
There’s also a big flashing button encouraging you to scroll down the page, which leads you to what amounts to a loosely-structured infographic of sorts filled with GIFs, quotes and videos that highlight key moments from the film.
Moving to the content menu that’s behind the drop-down in the upper left, the first section there is “About,” which has a story synopsis to catch you up on where the characters are now. The “Gallery” that’s next has a half-dozen production stills that all feature some sort of graffiti and text, kind of like what you’d see scrawled on a Snapchat photo.
Both trailers are in the “Videos” section but that’s it. The “Quiz” will help you figure out which Bella you’re most like. The “Grab Your Pitches” link is one that will help you organize a group outing to see the movie, allowing you to create a group name and invite friends. Finally there’s a “Partners” section with the companies offering promotional support.
Each time you open the menu drop-down, a yellow bar appears on the side of the screen that has links to the movie’s Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, Snapchat and Tumblr profiles. Notably absent is Facebook as apparently the other networks, especially Snapchat and Tumblr, seem more important to the marketing efforts. The Spotify profile has several different complications of music from all three films.
Advertising and Cross-Promotion
TV spots like this one were run that presented a condensed version of the trailers, showing the Bellas getting back together and some of the struggles they have to deal with, both on and off the stage.
Both trailers were used as ads on Twitter and Facebook following the release of each one.
Members of the cast appeared on a key episode of the singing competition show ‘The Voice” to perform with the contestants. Some of those aspiring singers showed up in a video mashing up “Cups” and “Freedom! 90.”
Universal worked with agency Portal A on an “influencer” campaign featuring Todrick Hall performing a medley of songs from all three movies.
One of the first announced promotional partners for the movie was Dubsmash, the lip-syncing app. People could find clips from the second movie and then submit 10-second videos of themselves singing along to them via Vine, Instagram or Twitter using the #PitchSmash hashtag. Another promotional effort along similar lines was launched in conjunction with Banks’ online comedy platform, this one looking for online video creators who could win a chance to come to L.A. for a workshop on making successful videos.
Other promotional partners included:
- Vince Camuto, which launched a campaign including a movie-inspired holiday video as well as print and outdoor ads that featured their current national model as well as movie branding.
- Dryer, which the first two movies in salons along with a preview for the third one. It also gave out free movie tickets to all visitors the other day.
- OPI, which ran a holiday sweeps awarding a girls night out containing a private movie screening and more.
- Pinkberry, which also ran a sweeps that asked visitors to share a pic of their frozen yogurt swirl with a new name they invented and a specific hashtag, with the winner getting a trip to the movie’s premiere.
- Realtor.com, though details of the promotion weren’t immediately available. Banks has been the face of ads for the company for a couple years now, though, so there was certainly some tie-in there.
Media and Publicity
The first official glimpse at the movie really came in the form of a “wrap reel” that offered a behind-the-scenes look at the cast and the shooting of the film. In EW’s fall movie preview issue Kendrick talked about everyone’s eagerness to get back together for another outing and where the story finds the various members of the Bellas.
Wilson talked here about how the series is largely responsible for catapulting her to fame outside Australia and how she’s so happy with not only her character but the fact that the movies star such a group of diverse, talented women. The fact that this, as well as the previous films, have been about friendship and representation was also the theme of everyone’s comments at the film’s premiere.
The whole cast did the media circuit, sometimes appearing all together and sometimes on their own but always talking up the perks of working together, the adventures they had over the course of three films and so on. They all came off, as always, as charming and friendly and just a fun group of ladies. Kendrick did more than others by virtue of her being the bigger star, of course.
There’s certainly an attempt here to recapture the magic that lead to the first Pitch Perfect being an unexpectedly large hit in 2012 and which kept going through the 2014 sequel. The poster, as already mentioned, keeps the branding going with the same look and feel of what’s come before. And much of the publicity is focused around how this is the last outing and what a good time the cast has had not only here but on all three films, a feeling it’s hoped will translate to the audience.
But I still can’t figure out how the inclusion of some subplot that involves the Bellas being aboard a military transport or having to jump off a submarine makes sense, either in the story or the marketing. These movies have never fallen victim to the problem some comedies have of needing to introduce outsized stakes in order to heighten the story. Why start now, when the series is on its way out? That adds a weird note to the campaign that’s been downplayed elsewhere but still may cause more than a few people to scratch their heads in confusion.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.