Her Smell – Marketing Recap

her smell poster 2Writer/director Alex Ross Perry takes a break from telling stories of privileged but dissatisfied upper class white people with this week’s Her Smell. The movie stars Elisabeth Moss as Becky Something, the influential and innovative leader of a punk rock band who now is trying to get her life together.

Becky finds sobriety isn’t as creatively rewarding as the excess of drugs and alcohol that seemed to power her most successful work. As she struggles to keep the party going she also continues to be terrible toward her bandmates as well as everyone else around her.

The Posters

her smell posterWe see Becky’s face, her tongue stuck out defiantly at everyone, on the poster, which is designed to look like a concert poster from the Bill Graham era of the 60s and 70s. Moss’ name is at the top while the festivals the movie has appeared at are below the photo, again shown like band names would have been in the heyday of early festivals. It’s a nice design that’s appropriate for the subject matter, which is nice.

The second poster is a closeup of Becky’s face with an intentionally ugly expression on it, the kind of thing female artists do all the time to obscure their looks and express a particular attitude. It’s meant to convey how Becky isn’t someone to play nice for the cameras or anyone else but is intent on remaining true to who she is, or who she feels she needs to be. There’s no copy or tagline, just the cast list, the TIFF logo and a pull quote from an early positive review.

The Trailers

Becky seems to be reevaluating her life in the trailer as we see her performing, recording, engaging in all manner of self-destructive behavior and pushing away those around her. It’s clearly the story of someone who is trying to get control of the whirlwind around her, even if that means drugs and violence.

Moss’ performance is really something, even just in what we see here. It’s evident this isn’t a sanitized look at a lifestyle or anything but one that allows the actress to explore all sorts of emotions and behaviors.

Online and Social

The official website has the usual barebones information on it, including the trailer and a synopsis. There are also profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Those profiles were often used not just to promote the movie but also to celebrate the influence of real-life female punk and rock singers, something that’s nicely contextual with the story.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve been exposed to or come across.

Media and Publicity

The movie had its big coming-out at the Toronto Film Festival, where it earned pretty enthusiastic word of mouth and positive buzz, mostly for Moss’s performance. The actress gave various interviews like this while there, talking about the process of making the movie and so on. A similar tone was struck in a joint interview between Perry and Moss and the frequent collaborations between the two were part of this profile.

It was eventually acquired by Gunpowder & Sky, news that was followed a bit later by the debut of an exclusive song from the movie.

There hasn’t been much of a press and publicity push offered. What interviews Moss did do were often dominated by conversations about “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which she stars in, and other projects or topics.


I mean…where’s the four-song EP of Becky Something tunes? Seems like it would have been a great tactic. If Into the Spider-Verse can do it, seems like a nature tie-in for a movie that’s actually about the music scene.

Aside from that, the strongest element the campaign has going for it is simply Moss. She continues to show she has a range that would be the envy of just about anyone and fully inhabits the characters she plays in a way few do. Most interesting, there’s little to no redemption story for Becky that’s on display here, so the message sent is that this is a flawed, troubled woman who may not pull out an upbeat ending, something that’s fairly rare.

Picking Up the Spare

More from Moss and Perry on the film’s themes and inspirations here. 

Some of the cast were filmed as they experience a movie-themed escape room filled with clues related to the MCU as a whole and this film specifically. 

Perry was profiled on his own, as was Moss and the unique choices she’s made throughout her career. The two were jointly featured on their efforts to recreate the grunge era the story is set in. 

There were a number of additional profiles of Moss that came out following the movie’s release. 

Also some getting attention was the design of the movie’s retro album covers. 

An official video for one of the songs featured in the movie was released. 

The Square – Marketing Recap

Set in the world of high art, The Square hits theaters this week as a political and cultural statement just as much as the works on display in the story. Christian (Claes Bang) is the curator of a respected contemporary art museum known for his provocative choices. He’s on the cusp of a new installation titled, of course, The Square.

A series of personal and professional crises threaten to upend his standing and reputation as an altruistic member of society. Problems mount as the museum seeks to promote The Circle in unusual ways, Christian is in the midst of an interview with journalist Anne (Elisabeth Moss) and more. In the end, we’re asked what art is and how much we know about the people behind it.

The Posters

The theatrical poster shows Julian in the middle of his ape routine standing shirtless on top of a table in the middle of a fancy dinner reception, Anna and Christian sitting at the same table. Based on the other marketing materials that’s a bit of a staged, artificially-arranged image, but it conveys the movie’s gonzo attitude while also including the major stars. Its Cannes credentials are at the top while a positive critic’s quote is at the bottom.

The Trailers

The first trailer starts out with Anne interviewing Christian about his role in running the museum, him explaining he’s always trying to push boundaries. “The Square” is one of his most recent installations and we also see Julian doing his ape routine in the middle of a fancy dinner. Anne confronts Christian after they sleep together and then it’s back to “The Square” and what it represents.

I have no idea what’s happening here but I get the buzz. It’s a bit disappointing to see another movie that uses “female journalist sleeps with the subject of an interview” as a story point, but there’s not much I can do about that. Looks intriguing and unique, which is still saying a lot.

Online and Social

For a small foreign film like this, there’s a surprisingly robust official website. Full-screen video greets you as the site loads, showing a rotating series of critic’s quotes at the top while offering a link to “Get Tickets” at the bottom, just above links to the movie’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles.

Another link for tickets is the first option at the top, followed by “Videos,’ which is where you’ll find the trailer along with a clip showing Anne and Christian in the aftermath of an ill-advised hookup. “Story” is up next with a synopsis as well as a cast and crew list.

We can skip “Stream More Great Films” since that’s Magnolia hoping to get you download more of its films.

“Social Assets” is pretty cool, offering a handful of GIFs and photos to download, some with captions or pull quotes, and use on social media. Next is the “Press Kit” where you can find more official statements and information if you need it for a story you’re writing.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Some online and social advertising using clips and videos and key art but that’s about it.

Media and Publicity

This year’s Cannes Film Festival provided a venue for the movie’s coming out, with screenings that resulted in massive amounts of positive buzz and word-of-mouth among critics that w as shared online. It went on win the Palme d’Or, adding to its prestige.

Ostlund talked about that win here, commenting on how he worked to make sure the material worked in English (not his native language), edits he made post-Cannes and more. He also shared his inspiration and talked about career in general here.

Considering his primate-inspired routine is a such a big part of the campaign it’s understandable that actor Terry Notary would be part of the publicity as well, with an interview where he talked about getting into the character, how that scene was choreographed and more.

Moss spoke occasionally about the movie as well, usually during a recent round of publicity for her acclaimed Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale.”


This is just my experience, but the campaign at first felt a bit imposing. That poster of Notary going full ape-man, the same image released as a publicity still during Cannes, was slightly off-putting. It makes the uninformed person in the audience wonder what sort of crazy avant-garde movie they’re being sold. There’s no story or explanation offered, just this singular image. It’s striking, to be sure, but it also offers almost no entry point for the audience.

That probably doesn’t matter, though. It’s not as if anyone who hasn’t been following the buzz from Cannes and beyond is going to even be aware of the movie, much less interested in it. The entire campaign has been designed to reinforce that conversation and keep the focus on the provocative nature of the story. The lack of easy jumping on point is a feature, not a bug. Like a high-end art museum, it only wants to allow in the people who already get it.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.