Little Monsters – Marketing Recap

A class field trip gets interrupted by the undead in the Hulu original film.

little monsters posterZombie movies almost always rely on some sort of unique hook to differentiate them from the crowd of similar projects. This week’s Little Monsters has a great one: Lupita Nyong’o stars as Miss Caroline, a teacher taking her class on a trip to a local farm/nature center. Joining her is Dave (Alexander England), who wants to impress Caroline as a rebound after recently getting dumped.

Things take a turn for Dave when he finds he has to compete for Caroline’s attention with the annoying host of a children’s program (Josh Gad) as well as the undead zombies that have escaped from a nearby military base. Caroline has to work with the two guys to keep her class full of kindergartners safe and uneaten.

Nyong’o’s status as one of the new leading ladies of thrillers has been at the center of the campaign for the movie, which has a lot of fun with the tropes of the zombie genre.

The Posters

The unusual nature of the story is on display on the poster, which shows Caroline jumping with enthusiastic joy with her guitar in hand but also jumping to avoid the reach of the decaying zombie hands seen grasping from the bottom of the photo. That communicates nicely how while this might be a zombie movie it’s going to be one with a slightly different attitude and tone – also emphasized by the bright yellow used in the background – than audiences might expect.

The Trailers

The first trailer finally came out in September. It starts out with Caroline and Teddy leading a class of youngsters on their farm field trip, one that gets interrupted by the sudden appearance of flesh-eating zombies. After that we got a tongue-in-cheek presentation of the kind of mayhem and violence the movie contains as the human adults try and protect the kids from the zombies that have taken over and are searching for food anywhere they can get it.

Online and Social

It’s clear there’s a heavy NEON influence to the movie’s official website, which sports the usual marketing materials but also features the “social assets” that studio often puts on its sites.

Advertising and Publicity

Following the movie’s successful debut at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year NEON and Hulu formed an unusual partnership for distribution rights.

Hulu gave the movie some additional publicity by using it in its “Huluween” campaign highlighting a number of scary movies and shows available on the platform.

Media and Press

A first look still from the movie was released at the same time it was announced it would be screening at Sundance. While there, Nyong’o spoke about the story’s influences and what brought her to the role.

Closer to release, Nyong’o appeared on “The Tonight Show” to engage in hijinks with the host. At the movie’s recent premiere she shared what attracts her to horror films while writer/director talked about how he came up with the idea and wound up getting it made.

Overall

It’s a fun, irreverent campaign that presents the movie as full of thrills, sure, but also one that never looses a tongue-in-cheek perspective and tone. Nyong’o obviously shines here as the teacher who’s dealing with a lot more than she expected, even while taking a bunch of kindergartners to an outdoor location.

Mostly, what’s notable is that the campaign sells the story while never appearing to talk down to the material or audience. It’s easy to do these kinds of marketing pushes in a way that slightly makes fun of the zombie trope or those who enjoy them, but this steers clear of all that and focuses on the unconventional subject matter and tone that’s used.

Picking Up the Spare

Another profile of the writer/director that explains how he conceived of the story and got the talent involved.

Us – Marketing Recap

You can read my full review of the marketing campaign for Jordan Peele’s Us at The Hollywood Reporter.

Online and Social

Not much of note on the movie’s official website aside from the standard content on a page that uses Universal’s default design template. Links are there to the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles, but there’s a missed opportunity here for some kind of “Meet Your Other Self” kind of feature that offers some skewed version of a visitor who uploads a photo or takes a quiz.

Media and Publicity

EW’s 2019 preview issue in December of last year featured a first look still from the movie along with comments from Peele about how he wanted to tell a monster story. Later on Duke was interviewed about this and other recent projects, careful not to say too much about the secretive story.

A couple months before the movie came out a trailer was released for Noire, a documentary about the history of black horror films that featured Peele, very much in line with the brand he’s developed. The director was the subject of a Rolling Stone cover story profile where he talked about this movie specifically along with what kind of stories influenced it and him and how he has seized control of his career.

Blum spoke about how Peele had upped the scare quotient since his first movie.

Around the time the movie was premiering at SXSW it was featured as the cover story on Fangoria featuring an interview with Peele conducted by director Paul Thomas Anderson. The movie’s screening there was accompanied by interviews with Peele and the cast about the racial identity issues raised by the story and comments from the writer/director about how he accepted a smaller budget in exchange for the freedom to tell the story he wanted and how he was gratified by the positive comments people had in response while also making the story’s political themes clear.

Duke was profiled about how the movie is the next step in an unconventional and often frustrating career. He also showed up on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to talk about the film and his character.

Two new tracks from the movie’s soundtrack were offered alongside an interview with the score’s composer. The efforts of the production team were also put in the spotlight as they talked about how they created parallel characters to enhance the story.

Nyong’o appeared on a special edition of “The Daily Show” to talk about the fan art that was created. The interview was obviously a bit – possibly a paid one – and comes off as a riff on “Between Two Ferns” in how host Trevor Noah is making the actress uncomfortable and acting kind of rude and clueless. She was also the subject of two profiles about how powerful and influential she’s become in the last couple years and appeared on “The Late Show.” She later spoke about the challenge of playing two versions of the same character.

Peele continued his press tour to talk about the influences that powered the movie and what scared him as a kid well as the pressure he felt in the wake of Get Out to not be seen as a one-hit fluke. Duke also showed up on the talk shows to talk about filming. There was also an interview he did where he talked about the symbolism of the scissors that can be seen so prominently in the marketing as well as what messages he wanted audiences to take away from the film.

Overall

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Picking Up the Spare

There were continued profiles of the main cast in the press, including both Evan Alex on his own and one with him and Shahadi Wright Joseph.

Duke was also the subject of quite a few additional profiles and interviews.