The Gentlemen – Marketing Recap

You can read my full recap of the marketing campaign for Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

You’ll find the usual marketing material on the movie’s official website, which uses the key art of the cast standing and looking tough throughout.

Media and Press

A brief interview with Ritchie accompanied the first look photo released just before the first trailer dropped.

Most of the cast, including McConaughey, Grant, Hunnam, Golding and Strong all made various appearances on late night and early morning talk shows, with the first two showing up together to banter on “The Tonight Show” late last week.

STX released a short behind the scenes video showing the creation of the “weed portrait” outdoor execution, with an artist making a sign out of different parts of the cannabis plant. Another video showed off the fan-created posters submitted in response to a call for movie-inspired artwork.

Overall

Picking Up The Spare

Fandango MovieClips got a new exclusive clip of some of the movie’s antics.

Farrell made an appearance on “Kimmel” to promote the film.

The movie’s costume and production teams got the spotlight for how they created the look and feel of the story.

A Simple Favor – Marketing Recap

Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick help make the marketing of A SIMPLE FAVOR a glamourous, well-branded affair.

a simple favor poster 7Paul Feig is a director best known for his comedies, specifically his female-starring comedies. After Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy and others, he’s now taking a turn for the dark in the dramatic thriller A Simple Favor.

Based on the book by Darcey Bell, the movie follows Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mom with an online presence and following who one day befriends Emily (Blake Lively), who has kids at the same school Stephanie does. The two become friends, though Emily is strangely aloof and never reveals much about herself. When Emily goes missing, it’s up to Stephanie to piece together what few, confusing clues there are to find Emily and figure out who her friend really was.

The Posters

The martini glass that graces the first poster, in connection with the “It all started with…” that’s completed by the title, hint that there’s something strange happening in the story. Specifically, that we’ll be following along as the consequences of some decision or action play out.

The second poster features a huge, colorful question mark at the bottom of which is the question “What happened to Emily?” Snippets of photos of the characters are shown in the colored segments of the punctuation, giving this a very 60s drama vibe reminiscent of Wait Until Dark and similar films.

A pair of character posters came next, with Emily and Stephanie facing toward each other when you put them together. Each is wearing a lovely dress while lifting a drink, standing in front of a gorgeous deco type design in the background.

The two women come together on the next poster, both posed elegantly against the same colorful triangles seen previously. It’s a bold, deco-inspired design that also kind of comes off like a photo from a 1978 Sears catalog, but that’s a small picking of nits.

What seems to be the theatrical poster came out in mid-August. Using a similar color palette of pastels and whites, the faces of the two lead actors are intermingled on what look like shards of broken glasses, hinting at the kind of identity-based drama the movie has in store for audiences. Another shows the two leads standing next to each other in the same colorful cut out seen elsewhere.

A series of “moving posters” released earlier this week showed Stephanie and Emily in what first appear to be classy, luxurious surroundings and situations, only to have something much darker revealed as the camera pans out.

One last poster came out just after that featuring side-by-side photos of Stephanie and Emily’s faces. Notably, this one includes costar Henry Golding standing between them, like a move by the studio to attempt to capitalize on his popularity in the wake of the hit Crazy Rich Asians.

The Trailers

Stephanie is explaining that Emily is basically her best friend as the first teaser trailer opens. We see hints that something has happened to upset Emily’s stylish, sophisticated world that leads to her going missing. That prompts Stephanie to set out to find her, uncovering things about Emily she had no idea existed along the way.

A second teaser sets up the same dynamic between the two women but makes it a bit more explicit that Emily has enlisted Stephanie’s help in some manner.

It’s all super-stylized, giving the impression of a hip, darkly-funny mystery. While Lively doesn’t get any dialogue, she looks like she breezes through every scene with a feeling of luxury while Kendrick’s Stephanie kinda sorta comes off as a bit of a stalker. At least she seems like someone who has convinced herself of a friendship with someone who’s well above her.

The final trailer provides a better picture of the story, beginning with how Stephanie and Emily first met and became friends. It becomes clear Emily has a penchant for mystery and doesn’t like to divulge anything about herself, which makes her disappearance all the more strange.

Online and Social

The various iterations of the key art cycle through a carousel on the front page of the official website, which asks the audience “Can you keep a secret?” There are links there to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

Most of what’s on the site is video, with all three trailers getting their own callout in the menu on the right side of the page. Also there are links to read the synopsis – including the cast and crew list – and view the posters.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots like this started running in mid-August, cutting the trailer down significantly but not changing the core message, that Emily is an enigma that has gone missing for some reason, leaving behind some very confused friends and family who realize they never really knew her. That included this commercial making it clear Emily has a dark side and does not want to let people inside her firmly-protected bubble.

Online ads used the key art while social ads used various versions of the trailer and TV spots.

Media and Publicity

One of the first press beats for the movie came when it was presented as part of Lionsgate’s upcoming slate of releases at CinemaCon, including the showing of a brief bit of footage.

Feig offered some management tips to Fast Company, drawing on his experience working with a wide array of some of Hollywood’s most talented actors and comedians over the years.

a simple favor pic2The pair of Lively and Kendrick embarked on a fashionable press tour that included a stop at MTV’s VMA ceremony. Kendrick later shared what it was like when she and Lively engaged in an on-screen kiss.

A fun little video was released showing Feig, Lively and Kendrick taking part in a fictional pitch meeting run by a couple studio heads who refuse to acknowledge women can be funny and who keep saying terribly sexist things to everyone in the room. It’s funny because it’s probably 100% accurate to many people’s experiences.

Fieg later talked more about why he decided to give comedy a break and make a dramatic thriller.

Kendrick and Lively also made various TV appearances on late night and early morning talk shows, including Kendrick talking about “mommy bloggers,” something her character is.

Overall

The combined charm of Kendrick and Lively is enough to get most people interested in the movie in theory. But this is a dark thriller that keeps reminding the audience that it is not what it seems at first to be. That could prove to be a tough message to sell when right now people seem more inclined to see the glitzy rom com stylings of Crazy Rich Asians or other escapist fare.

That being said, this is the most stylistically interesting, consistent and intriguing campaign I’ve seen in a while. From the first mysterious teasers to the wonderful series of colorful posters, it’s just great. The studio has certainly made an impression, and that can’t be easily discounted. It’s just not so clear that it actually drive people to head out to the theaters this weekend.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Another TV spot that focuses on the positive reviews the movie already received from critics even before it was released.

Lively showed up on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie and her fun Twitter back and forth with husband Ryan Reynolds. And Kendrick has done “The Daily Show” and “The Late Show.”  

Costume designer Renee Ehrlich Kalmus talks about the stunning styles sported by Lively’s character in the movie.

Another interview with director Paul Feig about the style and vibe he wanted to bring to the movie, his first outright dramatic effort, followed by another where he talks about getting serious.

Crazy Rich Asians – Marketing Recap

crazy rich asians posterBased on the bestselling book of the same name, Crazy Rich Asians hits theaters this week with a series of high expectations set on its shoulders. On the surface it shouldn’t be that big a deal as it’s a pretty basic story about a woman named Rachel (Constance Wu) who has been dating Nick (Henry Golding) for a while, the relationship becoming more serious. When he invites her to a family wedding overseas it comes with the promise of meeting the rest of his family and the realization he and his family are extremely loaded.

What sets the movie apart – and a theme we’ll see repeated throughout the campaign – is that the cast is made up exclusively of Asian actors and is set in that culture. It’s the first such movie since The Joy Luck Club decades ago to hold that distinction. So let’s see how Warner Bros. has been selling it.

The Posters

The first poster shows Rachel and Nick in a loving embrace with a bright colorful array of animals and backgrounds behind them. It’s clear they’re in love while the copy “The only thing crazier than love…is family” hints at the conflict that will cause tensions and laughs for the couple. This is very good at establishing an overall tone for the movie and campaign.

The Trailers

When the trailer starts, Rachel and Nick have been dating for about a year and he thinks it’s time for her to meet the rest of his family still living in Singapore. She’s concerned because it might be expensive and awkward, leading to the revelation that she doesn’t know how well-off he and his family really are. Once there it’s clear the primary conflict will be between Rachel and Eleanor, Nick’s mom, as the two engage in a battle of wills over what is or isn’t right for Nick. Ultimately it sets up a choice for Nick as to which woman he will support and give his attention to.

This looks like a pretty standard romantic fairy tale type movie, just with a predominantly Asian-American cast. I say that as a good thing as it’s part of the overall normalization of characters who aren’t white and straight in everything. It’s being sold just as any of the dozen movies over the last 10 years just like it have been sold, with lots of pretty dresses, close ups of the lead actor’s abs, glittering locations and so on.

Online and Social

The trailer plays when you load the official website, so watch that again if you like. After that plays you get full-screen video on the splash page with a content menu at the top that includes links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

That content menu offers all the usual choices, from the “Trailer” to the “Synopsis” and so on. Nothing real unusual or otherwise of note there.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

The studio gave the movie a significant advertising push around mid-July, with ads showing up on YouTube both as banners and pre-roll spots.

Fandango debuted the first TV spot, which did a good job of distilling the basic plot points into 30 seconds, selling it as a fairy tale romance. A bit posts like this were used on Twitter as promoted ads. Further TV commercials emphasized the glowing reviews the movie had already received.

The promotional partners that took part in the film’s marketing include:

  • Visit Singapore, which makes a lot of sense and which amplified a lot of lifestyle-related content about the movie on its Twitter and other social media channels.
  • The Knot, which also either created or shared a good amount of wedding themed material tied to the movie over the last few weeks.
  • Peach and Lily, which created a movie-themed beauty kit meant to appeal specifically to its Korean customers.
  • Live, Love, Polish, which created a movie-themed collection of nail polishes.
  • Bag, Borrow or Steal, which offered a pair of randomly-awarded movie tickets.

Media and Publicity

The publicity for the movie kicked off in earnest with an Entertainment Weekly cover story that featured a number of interviews with the cast where they talked about working with so many other Asian-American actors and crew, how a studio note predictably asked the main character be changed to a white girl, how rare it was for the creators to see faces like theirs in media and more. Indeed, many pointed out that a couple of Asian-American leads on the cover of a major mainstream entertainment magazine was exceedingly uncommon to begin with.

Golding also weighed in on the casting conversation since his own involvement has come under scrutiny given he’s of mixed heritage, which has led some to bristle at him not being Asian enough for the role.

Right around the time the first trailer was released a profile of costar Awkwafina showed up in EW’s summer movie preview issue – and a similar one in the Los Angeles Times and another in Buzzfeed – that shared her professional history and positioned her as an up-and-coming talent. That coincided with the movie being positioned at CinemaCon as part of the diversity-filled slate WB had coming up. The movie was also part of the later CineEurope presentation from the studio.

The pressure to get everything right – striking a balance between funny and respectful – was top of mind for screenwriter Adele Lim according to this interview. Wu was also heavily involved in the publicity for the movie, giving lots of interviews and talking about her career and experiences as an Asian-American in the entertainment industry.

Author Kevin Kwan shared his thoughts in interviews such as this about seeing his story make the leap from page to screen and talked about how comfortable he was as one of the leads in the promotional campaign for the movie.

A fashion-oriented event allowed the stars to talk about how uncommon movies with predominantly Asian casts still are, what that means to them and more. That was the theme of a statement by Constance Wu, who tied this one to Joy Luck Club, the last major release in the category. It was also the central focus of a Vanity Fair story that featured comments from the cast and crew alongside fashion shots of the cast.

That status is partly behind the substantial cover story about the movie, its stars, directors and everyone else in The Hollywood Reporter. That feature included how Netflix wanted the book to turn into a series but Kwan wanted a feature film more than anything.

An extended clip offered a good look at a key moment from the movie, where Nick invites Rachel to come with him to Singapore to attend a family wedding, something his family there isn’t super-thrilled about.

Media activity really picked up in the last couple weeks prior to release. That included two New York Times features, one on how the cast came together and what being in the film meant to them and one that continued pointing out how rare all-Asian casts are in mainstream American entertainment. Another EW story with Chu allowed him recount the development of the movie but also unfortunately mentioned how it bares an outsized burden to “prove” Asian-centric movies can succeed.

The red carpet premiere event was covered from both a style and substance angle while the cast lavished praise on their director. Around that time, Awkwafina appeared on “Kimmel” to play up her personality and the movie.

In the biggest package I’ve seen in a while, The Los Angeles Times ran profiles of essentially the entire cast and crew: Ronny Cheng, Kevin Kwan, Jimmy O. Yang, Constance Wu, Gemma Chan, Sonoya Mizuno, Ken Jeong, Jon M. Chu, Chris Pang, Awkwafine, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh and Nico Santos.

Overall

The campaign really shines, as it might be obvious, in the earned media department. The entire cast has been all over the press – and will likely continue to be so in the coming weeks – talking about how much they support each other, how much they want the movie to succeed, what it means to them and people like them and more. They have been the movie’s best advocates on a number of fronts.

That’s good because I’m a little surprised with the emphasis on the cast that there wasn’t more in the actual marketing department. Just one trailer? No character posters? I get this isn’t a super hero movie, but I would have expected something in the formal campaign that put a touch more of the spotlight on the group of actors and the characters they play. The press push counters that to some extent, but just barely.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Just in the first early screenings the movie reportedly recouped what Warner Bros. had spent on TV advertising.

Yes, Michelle Yeoh has a long history of being incredible on film.  

Quartz has some additional details on how Singapore’s tourism bureau, an official partner for the movie, is using it to draw more travelers there.

Constance Wu spoke here about how she and other Asian actors are becoming more bold in their choices. And Jimmy O. Yang appeared on “The Daily Show.”

There’s a cottage industry that’s sprung up in the last week devoted to producing stories like this about how the movie differs the book. Similarly, quite a few guest essays such as this have been published to various culture sites making it clear the movie does not represent all Asian people.

Director Jon M. Chu is ready for the movie’s success to open up some doors for him. Chu’s letter to the band Coldplay asking permission to use their song “Yellow” also garnered several thousand headlines.

This is one of a few profiles I’ve seen focusing on the movie’s costume designer, which makes sense given the attention people are paying to the wardrobe sported by the characters.

One more business-oriented story that’s been approached from various angles is the makeup of the audience itself. Asian-Americans turned out in much larger numbers for this movie than others (unsurprising). That was powered by Asian-American artists who helped get the word out for opening weekend, throwing off a tracking system that not only doesn’t do well with non-white audiences but which isn’t engineered for celebrity-driven efforts that mimic “get out the vote” campaigns more than those for other movies. Both of those, as this story points out, should get the studios’ attention.

Representation is again the theme of this interview with the film’s producers.

Awkwafina continues to be a bit focus of the publicity as the “breakout” star of the movie, with new features on her hitting Rolling Stone and Variety.

Michelle Yeoh has also gotten some warranted attention for her long and varied career in Hollywood. And Constance Wu once more hits the point about how this isn’t just your average romantic comedy.

Both Wu and Awkwafina made additional late night TV stops.

Awkwafina out there with the reminder that there are plenty of Asian actors around the industry, it’s just that no one is casting them in meaningful roles.

Warner Bros. used a campaign of targeted Facebook and Instagram content to build buzz for the movie in advance of release to introduce the audience to characters, story elements and more.

Looks like the partnership with the movie has paid off, as searches related to Singapore trailer have risen significantly since it hit theaters.

Model-turned-actress Angie Wang is profiled here.

Awkwafina was announced as one of the first hosts of “Saturday Night Live” in the season following the movie’s debut.

Rebecca Sun at THR does her own look at the movie’s marketing campaign in light of its massive box office success.