Private Life – Marketing Recap

How Netflix sold PRIVATE LIFE, starring Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti and directed/written by Tamara Jenkins.

private life posterDirector Tamara Jenkins brings her talents to Netflix with this week’s original feature Private Life. In the movie Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti play Rachel and Richard, a relatively successful New York couple who realize they’re getting older and so decide the time is finally right to have a baby. Things don’t go as planned though and they wind up engaging in fertility treatments that are frustrating and which also don’t seem to be effective.

One day their step-niece Tiffany (Lizzy DeClement) comes to visit and stay with them for a while. That creates a whole new dynamic in Rachel and Richard’s life that complicates their feelings about what they’re doing, what they really want and what having a family really means.

The Posters

The first poster was released in late August and featured the work of illustrator Chris Ware, who had previously done the poster for Jenkins’ The Savages in 2008. Using that same style, the images shows a collection of people standing or walking on a sidewalk, a city park in back of them and the skyline in the background. The implication here is that we’ll come into contact or meet most or all of these characters over the course of the film.

The Trailers

You get an immediate sense of the lives Richard and Rachel lead when the trailer opens as we’re presented with scenes of the kind of mid-range artistic existence filled with small parties with friends and Valium. Their attempts to conceive aren’t going well, even after they start the fertility treatments and it’s killing them a little bit. Into this comes Tiffany, who’s a welcome distraction and a breath of fresh air, though her parents aren’t thrilled with what she’s done. The three settle into their lives, though, and keep making do.

Hahn and Giamatti are so effortlessly good in this trailer it’s silly. What really jumps out at me, though, is how the story seems like something Woody Allen might have written with the exceptions of 1) No creepy relationship developing with the young niece and 2) Everyone actually seems to learn something.

Online and Social

Some support on Netflix’s brand social profiles but that’s about it.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’m aware of, but I expect to see some online ads of various kinds in the next few days.

Media and Publicity

The movie debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and while the reaction was somewhat mixed, everyone seemed to agree it was great to have Jenkins back in the director’s chair for another feature. While there she spoke about the story of the movie as well as the journey she took from an initial development deal with Amazon Studios to eventually winding up at Netflix with the freedom and support she needed to make the movie, albeit on a tight shooting schedule.

Jenkins spoke here along with others about how this was just one of a handful of movies from female directors distributed by Netflix, something other studios and distributors still come up way short in.

Hahn talked about the movie on “Good Morning America” while Giamatti talked with Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show.”

Overall

I have to ask one more time: How is it this is the first movie we’ve seen from Tamara Jenkins in over a decade? Based on the marketing this is a similar story to dozens of others in that time, many of which weren’t nearly as good as The Savages. I don’t understand.

That to the side, this seems like the kind of movie Netflix – and Amazon and others – can really latch on to when people start complaining about the quality of their original films. It’s from a well-known and well-respected writer/director, has a great cast and is exactly the kind of movie studios don’t have much faith in anymore. The marketing sells it as a compelling drama that should be attractive to fans of Jenkins’ earlier films as well as of grounded character dramas in general.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Costar Molly Shannon appeared on “Late Night.”

Director Tamara Jenkins was interviewed here about the story and what motivated her to make this movie at this time.

Kathryn Hahn spoke about how she related to the character she plays in the movie and what she thinks about how her career has turned out so far. She hit similar topics in this interview as well.

Another profile of director Tamara Jenkins here where she talks about the gap in her filmography and what inspired the story of the movie.

Hahn also was interviewed about what brought her to join the movie and how she felt it was especially culturally relevant right now.

Another interview with Hahn about working with Giamatti and the nature of the movie’s story.

Bad Moms Christmas – Marketing Recap

Having made a bigger-than-expected splash when they reclaimed the everyday, the three harried women at the heart of last year’s Bad Moms are back with A Bad Moms Christmas. Kiki (Kristen Bell), Amy (Mila Kunis) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) are throwing off the shackles of society’s expectations around mounting the perfect family holiday and taking it easy, enjoying it themselves for a change.

There’s one big monkey wrench that’s been thrown in these plans: The unexpected arrival of their own mothers. Kiki’s mom (Cheryl Hines), Carla’s mom (Susan Sarandon) and Amy’s mom (Christine Baranski) all show up with their own expectations and complicate things for their daughters in one way or another. Hilarity ensues.

The Posters

The first poster was very similar to one for the first movie, but this one has the three ladies grinding on and dancing all around a department store Santa.

A series of three posters paired each of the moms we already know alongside their own moms, most of the younger ones looking less than thrilled with this arrangement.

That was followed by another version that adds the moms of the moms.

The Trailers

Oy, with this trailer. It seems no one learned any big, long-lasting lessons from the first movie since the moms are back and feeling just as unappreciated as ever as Christmas gets closer. There’s more kvetching about the stress everyone is feeling and how badly they’re treated by their families. So they decide to “take Christmas back” which involves sitting out on a lot of the expected activities and traditions. Things are complicated by the arrival of *their* moms.

Alright, fine. Since the first one seemed to work for so many people it’s safe to assume that wrapping this one in tinsel will achieve roughly the same effect. Why not.

Another trailer shows just how miserable the moms are during Christmas, frustrated by their kids and the hectic schedules. Then things get worse when their mothers show up and begin the judging and the uncomfortable closeness and more. So the three rebel and go off on their own wacky, drunken adventures. There’s an extended scene involving an anal waxing and that’s all she wrote.

Green-band versions of both trailers were also released to appeal to more general audiences.

Online and Social

The first trailer plays when the official website loads up if you’re interested in watching that. The key art of the girls giving Santa a lap dance is featured on the front page. While there’s a traditional “Get Tickets” button on the page there’s also “Plan Your Night” prompt that encourages you to make this a group event. That section includes not just the option to buy tickets but to send themed invitations to all your friends as well as cocktail recipes and event planning guides.

At the top of the page is where most of the site’s content lives. That starts with links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest profiles, the latter of which features tips on delegating holiday work, taking time for yourself and more that’s in-line with the point of the movie.

“Videos” has all of the trailers. “About” has a quick synopsis and the cast and crew list. “Gallery” has about a half-dozen production stills. Finally, “Partners” has information on the companies who have signed up for promotional support.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV advertising kicked off in earnest a couple weeks out from release, with some focusing on outrageousness, some on the family relationships and some just on the cast that’s been brought together. Regardless of the specifics, all make it clear that there’s plenty of bad behavior on display as the moms go all out to enjoy some time to themselves. Digital spots like this one hit the same themes as have been seen before.

Online ads used short video clips to drive ticket sales and the release of each trailer was accompanied by paid promotion on social networks.

Promotional partners for the movie included the following companies:

  • Febreeze, though I couldn’t find any connection or campaign aside from the fact that Kathryn Hahn did an ad for the brand that aired during this past Super Bowl.
  • Yoplait, which ran a sweepstakes on Facebook and Instagram awarding movie tickets.
  • Stroke of Beauty, which created a movie-themed makeup kit that was available through evine (another listed partner) and given away through a sweeps.
  • Old Navy, which ran a sweeps awarding a private group screening of the movie and more.
  • Amazon Alexa, though I can’t find details on that partnership.
  • UrbanSitter, which ran a sweeps awarding not only movie tickets but gift cards for babysitting services.

Media and Publicity

The directors talked about they wanted to create mothers that would clash but still appear appropriate for each of the moms and the drama and humor that results from putting all these characters together.

Around the same time the TV advertising began STX released a few videos like this that had an expert mixologist sharing movie-themed cocktail recipes to make to help you get through the holidays.

Acknowledging that the original shouldn’t have been as much of a hit as it was, an interview with all three leads covered how quickly the sequel came together, how excited they all were to jump back and more.

The actresses playing the moms of the moms all sat down for a group interview where they talked about working with their on-screen daughters, their experience in general and more.

Overall

If you found the campaign for the first one funny or charming or relatable, odds are good you’ll be on board for this sequel as well. There’s nothing all that new or innovative going on, all the characters are the same and dealing with the same issues they were in the first movie, only with the additional stress of living up to a mother’s expectations. Not a single one of the actresses here isn’t extremely talented and likable, so it comes down to whether you’re interested in the story and tone, which is more a question of individual taste.

The main call to action is to come out as a group for something holiday-themed. The campaign is using Christmas as a chance to amp-up the emotional stakes for everyone and hopefully create something that’s just as relatable, if not more so, for the audience. There’s a nice effort to create some movie-themed experiences like the cocktail recipes and party tips that may or may not be widely useful but they certainly are appropriate to the story.

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