One-sheet musings

Seems there’s a bit of commentary going on over the sorry state of movie posters. The main complaints (and they’re justified) is that they are boring, uninspired and often focus solely on the celebrity-of-the-moment that happens to be in the movie.

I have to admit that they do have a point. Truly original and creative posters are becoming fewer and farther between. Some of my recent favorites include those for Pretty Persuasion, the subject of an MMM column here, Everything is Illuminated, Lord of War and Serenity. The poster for Good Night and Good Luck is also growing on me. Other than that I’m not seeing a whole of work being put into this aspect of a movie’s marketing efforts.

Let’s examine what the point of the one-sheet is in today’s market. They are primarily – almost exclusively – going to be displayed in theaters and are designed to grab someone’s attention. Considering the movies the vast majority of people are going to see (or in the case of this summer, not going to see) they should objectively contain a high celebrity quotient and be something that is easily digestable while waiting for the other members of your party to go to the bathroom or order popcorn. Heavy reading should not be involved. The overall goal is to make the person remember later about “that new ______ movie.” There’s exactly one shot the poster gets to attract attention and if it doesn’t do that it’s a failure.

The poster has a different set of goals than the trailer does. The trailer has two to four minutes in which to lay out as many of the characters and as much of the story as it possibly can. There’s simply no getting around the fact that more time, being able to show footage from the film and put it all into some sort of cohesive form is a fantastic opportunity. I’m not saying the trailer is always successful at meeting these goals but at least the potential is there.

So unfortunately these boring design-less posters will likely continue. They achieve their goals and nobody is questioning them yet. I’d love to see a world where more posters (and movies for that matter) like the one for Sideways, Lord of War and the like are the norm. The fact is though that these are complex movies and posters and require more of the viewer than just a sideways glance. They require you to get up close and personal with them, to feel the vibes coming from them and examine them further. Only then can you get the deepness and emotion that are part of their design.

Movin’ on up

Congratulations to Tom Biro, who I mention often, but each time deservedly.  Tom has been appointed Director of New Media Strategies at MWW Group and will focus on all sorts of new media and communication technologies.  Not only am I glad he got such a great job but I’m glad AdJab won’t be losing him and that he’s going to continue publishing TheMediaDrop as well.

–Chris

Movie Marketing Madness: A Sound of Thunder


“What if…?” conjecturing always makes good fodder for story tellers. Take a simple concept, preferably something historical and alter just one decision or action and all of a sudden you have a whole new outcome and situation. The key is you have to do it well or it just comes off as half-assed hackery.

Which brings me to A Sound of Thunder, the story of an time travel agency in the near future whose tour participants unintenionally alter the unfolding of history by stepping on a single butterfly. Ben Kingsley slums as the owner of the travel agency and Edward Burns brings his near emotionless acting to this mash-up of Timeline and Jurassic Park.

The Poster

It’s alright, but reminds me too much of the one-sheet for the Richard Gere vehicle The Mothman Prophecies. It’s just a butterfly and honestly it doesn’t look too dissimilar to the butterfly paintings and such that adorned my grandmother’s house. That’s not a great memory to invoke if you’re pushing a sci-fi action flick.

The Trailer

Hi-friggin-larious, if you ask me. We get a brief setup that this story is set in 2054 Chicago and that Kingsley needs to send Burns and his crew off on this mission. Something goes wrong and they have to try to fix the mistakes before their own reality is wiped out. So in addition to the movies referenced above we’re also throwing Back to the Future into the mix now.

The thing that really struck me in the trailer is just how ridiculous Kingsley looks. With his white pompadour and little stripe of a goatee the Unintentional Comedy Scale may need repair work. He looks like an inhabitant of Metaluna from This Island Earth. I keep waiting for him to communicate via interociter.

The Website

The coolest thing about the website is that when you launch the Flash-based portion you can see the building I work in (it’s the short brown one infront of the tall red one). Other than that it’s pretty boring. Obviously Warner Bros. didn’t alot a huge budget for a late-summer B-grade castoff. Check it out only for more pictures of Kingley’s haircut.

Overall

This sucks. Movie might be entertaining escapism but I’m not interested at all in finding out after reviewing this campaign.

Quick Takes: 8/29/05

  • According to a survey RSS use is on the rise among key influencers. To anyone who’s been paying attention for the last year at least this should come as a no-brainer. For anyone who hasn’t, now’s the time to start paying attention to this.
  • Over at AdJab I noted how IDG Entertainment had started an ad-supported wiki for gamers. Steve Rubel thinks not only should companies advertise but they should get into creating (limited) content for the wiki.
  • For as many times as it gets trumped in headline volume by Google, Yahoo does a lot of things right and is in line to become a “super network.”
  • With so many blogs to tend to it’s inevitable that some of them will get hungry.

Is the record business changing?

Warner Music Group has announced they will begin experimenting with three-to-four song albums, abandoning the long-play record format altogether for the first time.  The goal is to stop the ever-growing (at least in the mind of record company executives) piracy of songs via services like Grogster and others.

Unless Warners in particular and the industry in general has smartened up quite a bit in the last month or so I don’t really think this is going to work or do much of anything to restore the lousy reputation the industry has. The experiment will likely be in limited markets and the CDs will probably still cost at least $9.99, even if they only contain four songs. Why? Because that seems to be the price-floor the companies have put into place, if only unofficially. The CD singles that replaced cassettes (which replaced 45s) contain the single, a B-side and then maybe two or three re-mixes of the single. And those are priced at $6-7.

Oh, and is this experiment backed up by any sort of market research? None is mentioned in the article, only that they are trying out different business models.

The article also states the shift if an attempt to shore up CD sales in light of the increasing popularity of legal internet purchases. Here’s where I think the music label is so entrenched in their current thinking that they will never be able to pull themselves out. Unless it’s because of the massive margins on CDs there is no reason to shore up the CD format. It’s been around for the better part of 20 years, an unheard of lifespan in today’s world. The CD has also become somewhat of an anachronism, something that only a select few buy as opposed to a mainstream product. Even more specifically it seems to be older demographics, the ones that either grew up with records or came of age alongside CDs that are holding on to the shiny silver disc.

If Warner Music really wants to go down the path of small “clustered” releases they would be wise to price it competitively against internet download sites such as iTunes. Reach out to the potential consumer base by selling the disc at concerts. Do something to alter the image of soulless corporations shilling the next pre-teen diva to the masses at the expense of more talented musicians.

I’ve bought music exclusively from iTunes for about four months now and plan on doing so almost exclusively. There are still some records I want to own physical copies of, but I’m right on the cusp of that demographic line. Don’t count on me or my contemporaries to keep your CD production houses in business. In fact, don’t take any group for granted. Market share is gained by innovation and kept by a mix of innovation and outreach.

Getting linked

Yesterday I got an email from Tom Biro, who not only is the Gandalf-type figure at AdJab but also runs TheMediaDrop, inviting to me join his LinkedIn network. I seemed to remember hearing about the site at some point but had never explored it further. Well thanks to Tom I started playing around in the system and discovered it can be quite useful resource.

What LinkedIn provides is a way for you to share you network of contacts and resources with other people within that network. So now I can view the profiles, work histories and interests of those people within Tom’s network.  It also allows you to post areas you might be looking for work in, be it full-time or freelance.  So if I’m, say, a reporter and am looking for an expert in movie marketing then I can search for those keywords and find someone to comment on a story I can use this resource to find such a person.

The potential for use in public relations is great since reporters are always looking for sources of information. By creating a profile and a network along with that you can put your name in front of thousands of people.  Not only are you promoting yourself but with a viewable resume and such you can actually back that up.Â

From a more practical standpoint if you’re looking for work being a part of this system can do wonders.  A company in the market for a new employee in X field can look in LinkedIn for people matching their criteria, view their resume, see if they’re currently looking for work and decide on their own if they should contact the person. Imagine being a freelance writer and knowing that your resume could be viewed by a publication looking for someone covering your exact field.Â

I’ve just begun creating my network (and my profile so if you search for me don’t judge by what’s there right now), which includes a grand total of four people at this point.  Thanks to Tom for pointing out this great resource and I’m sure my network will build.

–Chris

The Week in MMM: 8/26/05


In lieu of a podcast I’m just going to do a weekly wrap up what’s been happening. Turns out AudioBlogger only allows for about a five minute recording session, which is about 25 minutes shorter than I was planning on. I may investigate a better way to do this but will have to figure that out later.

Previously on MMM

General News

  • Michael Bay blames marketing for the poor performance of The Island.
  • Blogs saw the failure of The Dukes of Hazzard coming.
  • Studios reconsidering the cost and efffectiveness of TV and print advertising.
  • As an alternative they seem to be more interested in blogs.
  • Why can’t moviegoing be as much as event as going to a play?

Trailers

Websites

Posters

More on Google Talk

One more thing for today on the topic of Google Talk – If anyone wants to add me to their contact list they can do so.  chris-dot-thilk-at-gmail-dot-com.

Since GTalk is only available if you have a Gmail address if you need one of those feel free to contact me at the same address.

–Chris