Support The Girls – Marketing Recap

support the girls posterJust last week a story made the rounds about how Millennials had mounted their latest corporate head to the wall of businesses and industries they’ve killed, in this case Hooters. The chain was shutting down, the story went, that generation just isn’t that into boobs, the connection provided by some sketchy numbers from Pornhub. Never mind that Hooters and restaurants like it are vestiges of gender norms firmly rooted in Boomer mentality that younger people have largely rejected.

While the restaurant featured in Support The Girls isn’t Hooters, it’s a similar establishment, one that promises sub-par food served to a leering clientele by women in short shorts and tight shirts. The movie stars Regina Hall as Lisa, the manager of Double Whammies, who plays the role of mother hen to the girls who work there, keeping them safe and helping in whatever they need. One day her relentless optimism is tried as a series of events make her life and job more challenging than it’s been.

The Posters

Regina Hall is front and center on the poster, standing in front of the bar two of her waitresses are standing on. She looks serious but fun while the other girls are playing it up like they’re flirting in the middle of dancing. Bold copy placed over that photo is pulled from early reviews and establishes it as a comedy and praises Hall’s performance.

The Trailers

Lisa is the focal point of the trailer as we see her trying to maintain a positive attitude amidst all sorts of chaos swirling around her. There are rude customers, supervisors with unrealistic expectations, girls who are barely mature enough to keep their own issues together and so much more.

The trailer doesn’t lay out any single conflict or issue Lisa is fighting against, it’s just sold as her trying to make it through each day with everything still running as well as possible despite so many obstacles.

Online and Social

The official website has elements like “Trailer” and “Story” along with links to Magnolia’s site where you can download a press kit as well as official versions of the poster and trailer. There are also links to the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve seen, though I wouldn’t be surprised if there had been some social advertising I’d missed.

Media and Publicity

The movie had been scheduled to appear at the SXSW Film Festival and was acquired by Magnolia just before that screening. Still, it picked up some pretty good word of mouth, especially for Hall, from that screening. Both Hall and writer/director Andrew Bujalski spoke about the movie, the latter going into what made him write about such a topic, while in Austin.

Hall was interviewed later about what attracted her to the story, how she’s enjoying a hot period of her career and more. She did likewise on “Late Night,” “Good Morning America” and in a visit to BUILD as well as a few other interviews.

Overall

The focus is squarely on Regina Hall and that’s very much a good thing. She’s obviously the character the audience is being asked to invest in most heavily and so it makes sense to put her front and center.

It looks like a sweet, funny movie about women owning their sexuality in a powerful way. I kind of wish there had been a bit more attention paid to the waitresses at the restaurant – even if it was just a few little video bios or something – to add more context there, but that’s a small issue.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

Director Andrew Bujalski was interviewed about how the story of the movie is indeed timely but it wasn’t intended to be so as well as what inspired him to hit this particular topic. More on that as well as what lead him to cast Regina Hall in the lead here.

Given the movie’s working class themes, it’s refreshing to see director Andrew Bujalski talk about how in reality not everyone who he’d like to see the movie can afford to go to the movies.

Hall has some thoughts about how men can meaningful support women, including a handful of substantive changes in how society is structured. And more here from her on her previous roles, what this movie means and how she approaches the work overall.

Buzzfeed’s new profile of Regina Hall emphasizes how she has, to date, been underrated and under appreciated as an artist but that needs to change.

The arrival of awards season brought with it a new round of profiles and interviews of and with Hall.

Please Stand By – Marketing Recap

please stand by posterWe’re in a cultural moment where it is OK to be unique and “unusual.” That makes the timing of the new film Please Stand By spot-on given its story, subject matter and characters. Dakota Fanning plays Wendy, an autistic young woman who loves Star Trek. So much so in fact she’s long been working on a Trek script of her own that she hopes to submit to a writing competition. But her circumstances, including the fact that she lives in a group home, make that difficult.

So, driven by one of the few things that gives her joy and comfort, she runs away and tries to make it to Los Angeles. As is often the cast with such movies there are misadventures and problems along the way, but she’s determined to get there. Meanwhile her therapist (Toni Collette) and sister (Alice Eve) are both trying to find her and make sure she’s safe.

Continue reading “Please Stand By – Marketing Recap”

Little Bitches – Marketing Recap

little bitches poster“Friends make a pact” is a premise you can turn in any number of directions, either as a drama or as a comedy. Taking the latter approach is this week’s small-scale release Little Bitches. In the movie Jennette McCurdy, Kiersey Clemons and Virginia Gardner play Annie, Marisa and Kelly, a group of high school friends who have vowed to end their high school careers by attending the biggest party of the year and all opening their college acceptance letters when they do so.

Of course because this is a story about high schoolers and rites of passage there’s lots of drama and angst to go along with the hijinks as friendships are begun and ended and everyone tries to go out on a memorable note. Add to that the presence of two cops determined to break up the party and deny the kids their fun and…yeah, there you are.

The Posters

There’s not much going on with the poster. Instead of trying to explain anything about the story it just presents a generic image of the three friends walking toward the camera as a group, something we’ve seen a number of times before. There’s no copy here other than the cringingly-awful “The OMGWTF comedy.” No. Just…no.

The Trailers

The red-band trailer that was released was a little better. It opens with Marisa and Annie engaging in a little petty theft to show that they’re ready to break the rules and live on the wild side a bit. After that we learn Annie used to be friends with another group that’s now super-popular and super-mean about it. As they all plan to attend the big party that night various plans are made and upset, all as two local cops – one in particular – plan to blatantly abuse their authority by breaking things up.

It’s not bad and certainly sells a sense of humor. Maybe it’s the presence of the two police officers, but it comes off a little like a female twist on Superbad, though without the horndog element of a bunch of dudes trying to score. Instead it’s just about ending a chapter of life on your own terms and all the ways that can go wrong.

Online and Social

Not much here, just a single Twitter profile that’s barely been updated by anything other than RTs of people sharing the trailer.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing here either.

Media and Publicity

Aside from a few beats around the release of marketing assets and clips this is similarly barren.

Overall

The poster is a loss, but the trailer kind of works. Sure, we’ve seen this kind of movie before, but it’s made to seem like there’s at least a mildly interesting take on the material. As I said before, it’s Superbad but gender-switched and without the relentless obsession with sex.

The biggest problem with the campaign then is that there isn’t more of it. It would have been nice to see Sony put some level of effort toward promoting it, even just with earned media. As it is this will probably pass by mostly unseen, partly because of a lackluster marketing push that didn’t seem interested in selling it to anyone.

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

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.”

Overall

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.

Landline – Marketing Recap

Director Gillian Robespierre takes us back to the halcyon days of the mid-90s in the new movie Landline. Jenny Slate, teaming for the second time with the director after 2014’s Obvious Child, stars as Dana, a woman who along with her younger sister Ali (Abby Quinn) discovers their father Alan (John Turturro) has been having a long-term affair, cheating on their mother Pat (Edie Falco).

This understandably throws their world, largely built around their slightly dysfunctional but still loving family, out of whack. The two set out to figure out what’s been going on while also dealing with their own issues. Dana is engaged to the boring but dependable Ben (Jay Duplass) but seems to be rethinking that future. Ali is a bit wilder than Dana had previously suspected. So there’s growth and discovery going on all over the place.

The Posters

The one poster for the movie does a number of things quite well. First is the phone cord that descends from the top to form the L in the title, a literal representation of the title and a reminder of a time when the physical range of a conversation had limits. Second is the look Slate’s Dana is shooting across the breakfast table at her father, one that conveys the upset and disappointment she’s feeling without saying a word, letting the audience know there’s something going on there. Third is the way Falco’s Pat is hovering over Ali, establishing their relationship. Finally, the “1995. When people were harder to reach.” brings the metaphor of the title to the story, telling us it’s about interpersonal dynamics family issues. There’s also the nod to Obvious Child, the previous collaborations between Slate and Robespierre.

The Trailers

The first and only trailer introduces us to the family and their dynamic as they’re on a road trip and trying to communicate with each other. We get that Dana is engaged, though she seems less than excited about the coming nuptials. She and her sister don’t really get along but bond when they find evidence their dad is having an affair. Everyone in the family is having their own crisis of sorts, whether it’s pre-wedding nerves, lack of commitment to school, feelings of being ignored or anything else.

It’s charming and low-key and looks sadly funny. The chemistry between all the actors appears effortless and like it all works to tell a simple but emotional story.

Online and Social

As has become pretty standard, you get full-screen video footage from the trailers when you load the official website. The title treatment from the poster involving the cord leading to the L and the copy are all placed in the upper left, above a button prompting you to “Get Tickets” and links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

In the drop-down menu the first section after another Get Tickets link is “Videos” which has the trailer and a clip from the movie that features a conversation between Pat and Alan as well as news footage of Hillary Clinton that seems pretty specifically included based on today’s political environment.

The “Story” section has a synopsis and the cast and crew lists. There’s a link then to “Stream More Great Films” that takes you to a special section of Amazon’s streaming service devoted to movies from Magnolia Pictures, a nice way to convert people in a different way. Finally there’s a “Press Kit” where you can download stills as well as a full PDF press kit and production notes.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Some light online advertising was done using the key art and there may have been a few social ads run at the time the trailer was released. That’s about it, though.

Media and Publicity

The first bit of publicity came when it was announced the movie would have its official premiere at Sundance 2017. That screening generated mixed, but generally positive word-of-mouth even while the cast and crew talked about reuniting after their previous movie together and how the story came into being. Amazon eventually picked the movie up for distribution.

Slate talked about how the retro vibe of the movie made her nostalgic and why she chose to set the story in the 90s. That was also the topic when Slate and Robespierre were asked about the story at the premiere, where they also talked about how that was meant in part to contrast it to today’s world.

Slate was, of course, the focal point of much of the press. She talked about 90s trends and how she started working with Robespierre years ago as well as her approach to selecting roles as a whole. She also talked about relationships and crushes, how she does and doesn’t want to be grouped with other actresses her age and lots more.

Overall

If you’re on board with Jenny Slate, you’ll likely be on board with this campaign. The focus is almost exclusively on her as the star and driving force of the movie’s story, the one we’re asked to sympathize with and take sides on behalf of. Everything about the movie is presented here from her point of view, from her parents’ relationship to the discovery of a side of her sister she was previously unaware of. The campaign is designed to appeal to fans of smaller, character-driven movies, especially those who made 2014’s Obvious Child a word-of-mouth hit as that movie is referenced frequently.

The other nice thing about the marketing is that it doesn’t get obnoxious with the 90s nostalgia. Yes, there are plenty of moments where people use floppy disks and actual landline phones and it takes a moment to realize the “app” Pat refers to in the trailer isn’t a bit of mobile software but a college application. But it keeps all that in the context of the story, not as something wholly on the side that’s positioned as a conceit for the audience to chuckle at. It’s that subtle approach that makes it work because, as the tagline on the poster suggests, the time period is used as a metaphor for human connections, not as a cheap gag.