How Netflix is selling its new music competition comedy.
First off: The Eurovision Song Contest is a real thing, an international song competition drawing aspiring singers and performers from across Europe for a chance at stardom.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, on the other hand, is not real, but is a new comedy starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams debuting on Netflix this week.
Ferrell and McAdams play, respectively, Lars Erickssong and Sigrit Ericksdottir, two singers given the opportunity to represent Iceland in the annual competition. They’re not anyone’s first choice, in part because they’re older than the usual contestants, but are determined to make the most of the opportunity they’ve been presented with, even if they can’t quite get their own act together.
Netflix’s campaign for the film, which was originally meant to come out earlier this year in connection with the actual show broadcast, is instantly familiar to anyone who’s a fan of Ferrell’s work and a big win for anyone who believes McAdams doesn’t get nearly enough comedic work.
“Nobody wins solo” we’re told at the top of the movie’s one poster (by marketing agency Concept Arts), which came out in early June. Lars and Sigrit are both shown in full performance costume, the bright lights of the stage behind them. That’s about all the appeal offered to the audience, as the promise of these two stars in some sort of over-the-top story is meant to be enough to get people interested.
The trailer (1.2 million views on YouTube) was released earlier this month and shows just how clueless and ridiculous Lars and Sigrit – especially Lars – are. They kind of fall into the position of being Iceland’s choice to compete on the show and frequently trip over their own mix of questionable talent, insecurities and other issues as they prepare for the broadcast. Despite intimidation from other competitors and more, they go on to successfully make it to the competition as they never give up on their dreams and are determined to prove everyone wrong.
Online and Social
Nothing here. There wasn’t even much in the way of support given on Netflix’s brand social channels.
Advertising and Promotions
Media and Press
Ferrell has apparently had this movie, or something like it, in mind for decades. He said as much in an interview a few months ago, and back in 2016 he appeared in character (though not the same character he plays in the film, on “Late Night.” He’s also jumped in on other Eurovision-related events over the years.
The history of Ferrell’s development of the film was also covered in a brief interview that also offered a first-look still.
It’s kind of surprising there hasn’t been more activity around the film of late, especially given it reunites Ferrell with his Wedding Crashers director. It seems like the kind of crazy-concept comedy he’s known for, one that lets him play some bumbling but well-meaning character with delusions of grandeur who succeeds despite himself as well as the odds against him.
What sticks out for me is the lack of mention of the movie on Netflix’s social media profiles, usually a reliable outlet for at least a few promos. Those have been almost exclusively dedicated to highlighting movies, documentaries and shows from Black filmmakers, starring Black actors and addressing uniquely Black issues. In that way, the campaign for Eurovision suffers because it’s the opposite of timely, seeming at odds with what’s hyper-relevant right now.
So it almost feels like Netflix is simply burning off the movie. It will likely receive some on-site promotion via recommendations, and those are probably going to be powerful enough to get many people to watch the film while doing something else, chuckling along occasionally. But while that might be enough to make it into a decent hit, it’s not what you’d expect given the talent involved.