Enola Holmes – Marketing Recap

How Netflix has sold a quirky addition to the Sherlock Holmes franchise.

There have been countless adaptations and updates to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes over the years. Most recently, Warner Bros. put to movies in theaters with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law playing Holmes and Watson, respectively. On TV, the BBC’s “Sherlock” brought the character into the modern era and was itself adapted for U.S. audiences in the form of “Elementary.”

Enola Holmes, out today on Netflix and based on a series of books by author Nancy Springer, puts Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and his brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin) in supporting roles while their younger sister Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) takes the lead. On Enola’s 16th birthday their mother (Helena Bonham Carter) suddenly disappears, with Enola left behind to piece together whatever clues there might be in an attempt to find her. Her brothers want her to follow a more traditional path for a 18th century young lady and go to finishing school, but Enola is determined to keep going, even when she winds up becoming entangled in a much larger mystery in London.

Though the story’s setting is in-line with the original stories, the marketing campaign from Netflix has definitely taken a more modern, irreverent approach.

The Posters

The first and primary poster (by marketing agency Concept Arts) came out in August and sets the tone of the film very well with Victorian dresses and suits mixed with bright colors and a title treatment that looks like it was put together with text ripped from magazines.

A series of colorful, slightly pulpy character posters came out just last week, all featuring the same title treatment with each individual placed against a different landmark, location or building that’s featured in the story.

The Trailers

The trailer (7.3 million views on YouTube), released in late August, sells a movie that’s as fun and mischievous as it is filled with mystery. Enola is, we see, completely devoted to her mother, with whom she has a special bond. When she disappears, Enola enlists the aid of her two older brothers to help track her down, but their attempts to civilize Enola aren’t enough for the girl’s spirit. She sets out on her own to find their mother, proving she’s more than capable of holding her own no matter what society expected of most young women at the time.

Online and Social

No stand-alone site for the movie but it has received plenty of support on Netflix’s various brand social channels.

Advertising and Promotions

In production from Legendary, Netflix acquired rights to the movie in April.

Unfortunately a few months later the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyal filed a lawsuit claiming the story violated their copyright on the characters depicted, something it has attempted previously with limited success.

In the weeks leading up to release Netflix put out a number of promotional videos and featurettes. That included the cast explaining the characters and story, Brown reading excerpts from one of the books, an overview of Victorian-era slang and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film that also offers an introduction to the character of Enola and her world.

There was also a more traditional TV spot-esque promo showing how Enola keeps one-upping her famous brothers and refusing to fall into what’s deemed to be her place.

Media and Press

The focus here has been largely on Brown, which makes sense given not only her lead role here but also her popularity on “Stranger Things.” That focus has included a profile on how she got ready for the period role and a joint interview with director Harry Bradbeer about exploring the character and making an action movie with a young woman at the core.

Overall

The campaign is just a lot of fun. With Enola breaking the fourth wall to share her thoughts and frustrations with the audience, her attempts to break away from the path her brothers and society would like her to follow and her determination to find her mother, a great sense of humor and attitude permeates the various marketing assets on display here.

The trailer is great, but the posters are also very important in establishing the movie’s brand for the audience. How the designs evoke the poppiest of pop culture, reminiscent of movies like Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, which had the same attitude on display.

More than all that, it’s a chance for Brown to really breakout from her breakout role and show the kind of range she’s capable of.

Picking Up The Spare

Lots more on Brown and how well she fit into the title role. 

There was also a profile of the movie’s production team and how they achieved the story’s look and feel. 

Quite a few new featurettes have also come out, including ones about the twists of the story, the stunts and a key fight sequence. Along with those were a couple more lighthearted videos. And a blooper reel seemed to round things out.

Brown appeared on “The Tonight Show” to talk about the movie and more. 

Love. Wedding. Repeat. – Marketing Recap

How Netflix is selling a romantic comedy about wedding awkwardness.

love wedding repeat poster

Weddings are meant to be happy affairs, but are actually powderkegs of emotions. It’s a lot of people who either don’t know everyone or who come with grudges against various other attendees wearing uncomfortable clothes for a long period of time and being pressured into acting happy. They’re fertile ground for crazy behavior and regrets.

That very scenario is in place in Netflix’s new original feature Love. Wedding. Repeat. The bride is Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson) and her brother Jack (Sam Claflin) is determined to do everything he can to make it special for her. Those intentions are thrown off course with the arrival of not just his disgruntled ex-girlfriend Amanda (Freida Pinto) but also Dina (Olivia Munn), the girl he has been dreaming of since she slipped away from him years ago. Added to the mix are other members of the wedding party who will add their own problems, including Marc (Jack Farthing), who wants to take the occasion to tell Hayley he’s in love with her.

Netflix’s campaign has sold it as a light, airy comedy that isn’t overly concerned with logic but just wants to sell the laughs and promise audiences a care-free good time.

The Posters

There’s an interesting graphical division on the one poster (by marketing agency Canyon Design Group). The bottom two-thirds show the main characters, all looking relatively normal, though some appear a bit more mussed or discombobulated than would be expected, even at a wedding. At the top, though, is the bottom one-third of the photo, which shows the broken dishes, discarded flowers and other detritus of an event that has clearly seen some chaos unfold. That portion of the image is that answer to the question included in the copy “One wedding. One simply plan. What could possibly go wrong?”

The Trailers

The first trailer (2.5 million views on YouTube) was released in early April and immediately makes it clear we’re in for a farce involving complicated relationships, awkward encounters and potentially drugging the wrong person’s drink, all over the course of a single wedding day. The story centers on Jack, who is trying to juggle everything needed to give his sister the best day of her life, but who finds himself having to manage all manner of problems – including the reappearance of Dina – on top of the usual issues. It’s lighthearted and funny, selling a comedy filled with people doing exactly the wrong thing and being flustered by it.

Online and Social

Looks like the movie has received minimal support on some of Netflix’s brand social channels, but that’s about it.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Rights to the film were picked up by Netflix during the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, where the production team was selling it while it was still in production.

There doesn’t appear to have been any paid promotions recently, and any events Netflix may have had planned have likely been scrapped because of public health concerns.

Media and Publicity

Nothing of note here, at least not at the moment.

Overall

It’s not a massive campaign, but it sells the movie in an effective manner, positioning it as the lightest of entertainment confectionaries. Flustered characters, accidental drugging of drinks, comedically heated emotions…it’s all there in a bright pastel basket, just waiting for the audience to take a bite.

Netflix not making a slightly bigger deal about the movie seems like a mistake. No, it’s not “prestige” on any level, but at the moment people could probably use a bit of contrived, low-stakes entertainment given the tragic news hitting us every moment of every day. Putting a little more gas behind it could have driven attention and awareness, offering a pleasant distraction with some charming actors.

Picking Up the Spare

Munn was interviewed about shooting the movie on location and more here

Adrift – Marketing Recap

adrift poster 2Based on a true story, the new movie Adrift features an amalgamation of a few different film genres and types. Tami (Shailene Woodley) is on vacation in Tahiti with friends and meets Richard (Sam Claflin), a sailor who loves the open water. The two spend more and more time together and when he’s offered the chance to sail someone’s boat back to California, she joins him, figuring it will be a wonderful and romantic time.

Things take a turn when they unexpectedly encounter a massive hurricane that almost destroys their small boat. Richard is injured, the boat’s mast is broken and they don’t have navigational instruments, meaning they’re largely dead in the water. Tami, though, patches the boat and gets them on a course that will hopefully lead them right to Hawaii, where they can be rescued. That’s an awful lot of “ifs,” though.

The Posters

That the movie takes place on the open water of the sea and that it’s based on a true story are the two primary messages of the first teaser poster. In fact the only additional shared here are the title and the names of the two leads, so the hope is that people will be lured in by the promise of some seafaring drama. The second brings the two leads more into focus, showing them at the top with their foreheads touching while at the bottom we see their crippled boat in the middle of the water, her looking out at the horizon for any sign of help.

The Trailers

Tami and Richard meet cute at the beginning of the trailer, he attracted to her free spirit and looks and her attracted to his free spirit and looks. When he accepts a job to sail someone’s boat back to California from Tahiti (it’s a magical place) he invites her along and she accepts, despite the unknowns of being at sea that long. When disaster strikes and they’re caught in the middle of a massive hurricane they’re left adrift (natch) with almost no way to navigate and no power, thousands of miles from anywhere. With Richard injured it’s up to Tami to keep them going toward a slim hope at survival.

There’s some good stuff in here and it certainly looks both dramatic and romantic, which is the point. You could make a joke about Claflin really owning the niche of “romantic lead unable to move” but I won’t. It is cool to see a story where the woman is the one who refuses to give up, though, and keeps doing what needs to be done to make it to the next step.

We skip some of the setup in the next trailer and get right to when Tami and Richard are already in a relationship, eventually agreeing to sail a man’s boat back to California. That quickly transitions to an extended look at the massive, hurricane-induced wave that capsized the boat and sets them adrift, injuring him and forcing her to work to keep the two of them alive until they can reach shore or be rescued. This one does away with much of the story and gets right to the dramatic struggle between life and death that provides, it seems, much of the movie’s drama.

Online and Social

When you load the movie’s official website you have the immediate option of watching the second trailer. After that plays the splash page has full-motion video in the background, a big button encouraging you to buy tickets and links to the film’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

The content of the site, accessible via the menu at the top of the page, is pretty standard. “Trailers” has both of the trailers, “Story” has a decent synopsis and cast/crew list and “Gallery” has a decent collection of photos both from the movie and its production.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There were quite a number of TV commercials produced, some short ones that skipped right to the hurricane action, some short ones that focused more on the love story and adventure of sailing.

The movie was one of the first to be advertised via Snapchat’s recently-unveiled unskippable six-second video ad units.

Media and Publicity

After being homeless for a while STX finally gave the movie a release date of early June, filling a whole left when Fox moved Deadpool 2. It was later part of the studio’s presentation to industry executives at CinemaCon.

Woodley later appeared on the late night talk show circuit to talk about the movie, specifically about the experience of filming on the water for such a long time, including getting seasick as a crew. She, Claflin and director Baltasar Kormakur all talked about the real life story and what it was like making the movie at the premiere. Kormakur was later interviewed on his own about many of the same topics.

Overall

As I said at the outset, there are bits and pieces of several different genres coming together here. It’s very much a romance of the Nicholas Sparks variety, about two people who just happen to find each other while in a place they wouldn’t usually be. But it’s also a story of survival against nature in the vein of The Perfect Storm or, more recently, All Is Lost. That’s not a knock against it, just an observation of what’s going on.

Aside from the likability of its stars, the main thing the movie seems to have going for it is that it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t pop up very often anymore. Yes, it’s a romance but it’s not nearly as cloy or cliched as many movies that fall into that category. By telling a story of a young woman’s ability to take charge and get her and man she’s with out of danger it seems to be sending the message that yes, you can have it all, ladies. That’s a good thing and an important theme to hit as often as possible.

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

PICKING UP THE SPARE

New interviews with both star Shailene Woodley and director Baltasar Kormákur offer insights into the story and process of making the movie, though the latter contains significant spoilers so beware.