The Foreigner – Marketing Recap

Jackie Chan stars in this week’s new release The Foreigner from director Martin Campbell. In the movie, he plays Quan, a London businessman whose daughter is killed in an act of random political terrorism. He begins to believe one official in particular, Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), may have answers because of his former ties to terrorist organizations.

Hennessy is less than helpful, though, frustrating Quan’s efforts further. Convinced he’s right, Quan begins following Hennessy and his assistants. When those bodyguards and others turn violent in their efforts to dissuade Quan from further action, they find that he’s far from the aging, grieving father he appears to be and is more than capable of bringing the fight to them.

The Posters

The poster declares at the top that it comes “From the director of Casino Royale” as a way to solidify its action bonafides. Other than that it’s just Chan standing on a city street looking dispassionately at the aftermath of some sort of mayhem, including a sidewalk that’s on fire and rubble that’s strewn about. “Never push a good man too far” is the very vague and generic copy that’s shared.

The Trailers

You can tell from how much the dad loves his daughter as the trailer opens that we’re in for a bit of violence and emotional manipulation. Soon Quan is at the desk of Mr. Hennessy asking for the names of the bombers, mostly because he believes Hennessy at least knows who they might be and at worst thinks he was involved. So begins a quest for revenge that involves going after those suspected of involvement on his own, taking out henchmen left and right with his fists or his improvised gadgets, meant to show how dangerous he really is.

This looks pretty by the numbers, almost like a remake of that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that had a similar “man seeking revenge for the death of his family” movie that came out last year. The biggest draw for what otherwise seems like staid material is that it comes from director Martin Campbell.

The next trailer again opens with Quan’s little girl dying in a bomb explosion and being frustrated in his attempts to get answers. So he takes matters into his own hands and goes after those he believes responsible. It’s pretty similar to the first one, just with a few tweaks here and there, so the value proposition to the audience remains unchanged.

Online and Social

Full-screen video of clips pulled from the trailer greet you as you load the official site. Not only is it featured on the front page, along with a “Get Tickets” button, a prompt to watch the trailer and links to the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds, but it will be persistent throughout the rest of the site as well.

“Videos” has both trailers, a couple of the TV commercials and a few clips and featurettes that focus on the stunt work, which isn’t surprising. There are about a half-dozen stills in the “Photos” gallery. Finally, “About” has a short Story synopsis and a Cast & Crew list.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots like this one cut to the chase quickly, showing the bombing that sets the revenge-minded events in action and the threat he poses to those he’s deemed responsible. A lot more TV advertising was done, particularly in the month prior to release, with spots that varied from selling the emotion to selling the all-out action. They were all variations on a theme, though, most hitting the same general beats and story points.

Media and Publicity

Chan did some press for the movie, including appearances on late night talk shows, as did Brosnan. There was also a major feature profile of Chan that focused on his inability to rest, the fact that he’s still doing his own stunts at age 63 and more. That’s about it, with most of the rest of the press coverage coming from the release of clips or other marketing materials.

Overall

I’ll be honest, when I saw the first trailer I was inclined to pass on including a recap of this campaign here. It seemed light and inconsequential, the kind of unironic action movie that would have turned heads in 1987 but which now seems out of touch. I wasn’t that interested in watching Chan try to hold on a bit longer to this action credentials while involved in a story we’ve seen a number of times from other aging former action stars.

But then it just kept going and I kept checking it out, more interested in it than I was the last time. Eventually I came around to thinking that yes, this may be a slightly tired plot and no, I don’t really need to see what’s being sold here, but it’s being sold well. I’m sure there’s an audience out there who is going to want to revisit Chan’s stunt abilities, and his performance has scored pretty good reviews for its depth and emotion. So while it may seem like the kind of movie that in eight months we’ll all legitimately forget ever happened, it’s been presented with a workable campaign that has taken a good approach to reaching a target audience.

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

 

Only Living Boy in New York City – Marketing Recap

Get ready for a healthy dose of white upper-class angst with The Only Living Boy In New York City. Directed by Marc Webb, the story follows Thomas Webb (Callum Turner), a young man who has graduated college but doesn’t know what he’s going to do with his life. Fortunately, he has wealthy parents (played by Pierce Brosnan and Cynthia Nixon), so is in a place where he can amble about a bit.

That ambling includes receiving advice from his neighbor W.F. (Jeff Bridges), an aging frustrated writer who Thomas befriends. Things get complicated not only because of the romantic pressure from Thomas’ girlfriend Mimi (Kersey Clemons) but also the discovery his father is having an affair with a woman named Johanna (Kate Beckinsale). Not just that, but Thomas eventually becomes involved with Johanna himself, causing further problems.

The Posters

The first poster is simple, establishing at least one of the movie’s relationships. We see Turner and Beckinsale kissing passionately while up against a white wall that looks like something you’d find in a high-end art gallery or other establishments. No copy fleshes out or further explains the story, just the cast list.

The Trailers

The first trailer opens up by immediately showing us we’re in the world of well-off, highly literate New York society. Thomas meets his new neighbor and we see he’s having issues with his girlfriend. A night out leads to him seeing his father out with another woman and he begins following her. That develops into a complicated flirtation between the two of them. Thomas is getting life advice from W.F., in some sort of relationship with Johanna, on the outs with his girlfriend Mimi and hiding what he knows from his father, all of which leads to lots of conflicted feelings and problems.

It looks like a decent story but it also certainly looks like yet another entry in the existential angst of the New York white upper class. It’s a Noah Baumbach movie as directed by Marc Webb. There’s nothing wrong with that but it also is ground that’s been well-trod over the years so it’s curious to see what, if any, new this one has to say.

Online and Social

The official website immediately plays the trailer in full-screen video, and “Video” is the second of the content sections in the menu at the top of the page. If you click over to “Home,” it has a version of the key art along with a prompt to save the release date to your calendar and links to the movie’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter profiles. The only other section on the site is a “Synopsis” that gives a decent overview of the story and the relationships between the various characters.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve been aware of or seen.

Media and Publicity

Beckinsale and Bridges have, at least to date, handled most of the publicity efforts, appearing on some of the late night talk shows to talk about the movie and do the usual joking around. There was also a feature on Webb where he talked about making the movie and the New York setting of the story.

Overall

Just as I thought the marketing of Fun Mom Dinner might be hurt by the recent influx of movies about women cutting loose, I think the marketing of The Only Living Boy In New York City will be hurt by it being the 748th movie in the last two years about wealthy white people suffering a lack of direction while still having the financial means to wander about drinking high-end scotch and pondering what it all means. I don’t think we can go more than three weeks without a story like this hitting theaters, meaning the marketing needs to present a clear differentiating value proposition to stand out from the crowd.

There’s no such hook in the campaign here. The studio seems to think the relationship between Thomas and his father’s mistress checks that box, but it’s not enough. There’s too much ground being covered here that’s not only familiar but which is out of touch with the reality of the country at this point, where the wealthy 1% are still not beloved by most people. These aren’t characters we can relate to and the story isn’t outlandish enough to be seen as soap opera-like. We’ve pretty much seen this movie before and the campaign doesn’t offer anything unique or innovative enough to stand out from the crowd.