Quick Takes: 7/26/06

One more of these while I get back in the groove after a long weekend. Starting fresh tomorrow.

  • More graphic medical visuals in the new poster for Saw III.
  • ComingSoon has a bunch of online ads that are hitting the net for Snakes on a Plane.
  • The British can do horror too, as the trailer for Severance shows.
  • Will Smith must be jonesing for an Oscar. That’s the conclusion that comes to me after watching the trailer for The Pursuit of Happyness. (And no, that’s not a typo.)
  • It’s not an overly original design, but the poster for Idocracy does hype that it’s a Mike Judge film, which is all it really needs to do.
  • Jeffrey Wells passes on word of a redubbed Miami Vice trailer in Germany.
  • PosterWire is asking for help editing the Wikipedia definition of a movie poster.
  • Cross pens are among those brands getting some placement in Stormbreaker.
  • The official site shown in the commercials for Step Up has a MySpace domain, and WebProNews dives into that.
  • If you were paying attention you saw that Comic-Con was as much about movie marketing as it was comics.
  • Cinematical jumps on the “Miami Vice Story” as Mack labeled it.
  • Beerfest gets an online ad.
  • As does Talladega Nights. This one’s been all over SiteMeter lately.
  • The Miami Herald does a recap of all the companies that latched onto the Pirates of the Caribbean brand.
  • Lucky You, with Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana, gets a poster and a trailer.
  • Naming a movie is a difficult – and sometimes vaguely defined – exercise.

OK, then. Starting tomorrow with more or less a clean slate. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

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Speechless – An Open Letter

I’ve been legitimately and profoundly moved by the outpouring of support from The Viral Community and others in the wake of, as Mack calls it, “The Miami Vice Story.” What a powerful and supportive group of bloggers he’s assembled and that we’re all a part of. I haven’t had the time to comment or link to everyone how’s jumped on this story like I should have but I want you all to know I’ve read everything and think it’s great that this story as spread in the way that it has. It shows that good word-of-mouth can spread as far and wide as bad.

Speaking of The Viral Community, congratulations to Mario on becoming the latest contributor to Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog. Look for good stuff from Mario on DF in the near future.

Talkin’ ’bout religion

Moderates say Democrats shouldn’t be bashful on religion — Beliefnet.com

Here’s an idea for Democrats. Point out all those things from the Bible that Republicans don’t seem to be interested in while they’re concentrating on gay marriage and gutting Social Security:

-Helping the homeless.
-Helping the ederly.
-Helping the sick.
-Helping children.
-Making sure that Caesar and God are each given their due.

Talk about all those points where Christianity and progressiveness come together. Try it. Just might work.

Movie Marketing Madness: Miami Vice

(Ed note: This is the long-awaited campaign review for Miami Vice. If you’re unclear as to why this has been so anticipated surf over to The Daily Fix, where Mack Collier has recapped the word-of-blog push that the movie received as a result of a phone call, a blog post and a call to action. Also do so if you want something far better to read. Other than that, on with the show.)

Here’s what I love about Michael Mann as a director: He makes kick-ass but often low-wattage movies that spring to life in a way that completely disarms you. There’s a theory of art that I heard occasionally that says art should make the audience uncomfortable. Mann must subscribe to that theory in spades. Imagine Last of the Mohicans. Long character-building passages of Daniel Day Lewis in the forest that are instantly followed by someone getting an ax in their head. Or the sporadic gunfights that interrupt the personal journeys the characters in Heat are on. The examples go on and on. Mann seems to specialize in making movies that lull us to comfort only to then whack us upside the head and make us squirm in our seats at the the graphic violence or behavior being exhibited by the characters.

It’s easy, when you’re thinking of Mann, to forget that he was the creator of Miami Vice. Yes, the TV show that told a generation it was alright to wear a t-shirt under a white silk sport coat was the brainchild of Michael Mann, director of Collateral. I’m not going to get too deep into nostalgia over the show since, while I liked it, reminiscing over it is non too relevant to the movie. Yes, the main characters of Crocket and Tubbs are still the focal point and yes, they’re still Miami vice-cops, but Mann has grown a lot since the mid-eighties and it’s patently unfair to run the movie version head-to-head against the show. Two different eras, two different styles, and a lot of artistic growth separate the two.

That being said, I’d pay an extra $10 if Mann has given Phil Collins a cameo in the movie.

The Posters

The shots in his movies are both incredibly slick while at the same time being somewhat grainy, a look that began in Collateral and continues here, largely (likely) due to cinematographer Dion Beebee. That look and feel is perfectly reproduced in the posters for Miami Vice. Crockett and Tubbs , played by Colin Ferrell and Jamie Foxx respectively, each get their own posters that show them simply walking. But with swagger. In case you were wondering what swagger looks like, that mix of bravado, self-confidence, machismo and wariness of the world around them, this is it. The combination of them in outfits are to the 00’s what the suits and deck shoes were to 80’s and the title treatment that’s been given a slight stylistic update sells the movie very well.

The theatrical poster featured the same sort of look and textures, except this time with Foxx and Ferrell’s faces front and center. Because they’re the only thing there it manages – just barely – to avoid the “big floating head” syndrome and is probably the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. If I were still working at a theater I’d be trying to buy this one.

There were also a couple other character-centric posters created. One for the eventual love interest and one for the bad guy. Very shadowy

The Trailers

I wasn’t impressed by the teaser trailer , which debuted on the Bacardi website (more on this later). It looked quite frankly silly. Even on rewatching it’s too quick, too jumbled and looks just enormously unimpressive, like it’s all style and no substance which is NOT what we expect from Michael Mann. This one had me nervous.

The theatrical trailer, though, was much better. It fleshed out the movie a little bit more and gave everyone a bit more room to move around in. We learn there is a story in there underneath the shiny surface and Ferrell and Foxx look, well, just cool.

Online

Let’s dispense with the General Site right now. It’s pretty nice as official websites go and the design is unmistakably cool. Even the content is a notch above what’s regularly offered, or at least it’s presented in a much better way.

The reason I’m so eager to get that out of the way is that the age-restricted site is so very very cool. Be warned, though, that this is age-restricted for a reason. Foul language and dramatic moments are depicted inside so if you’re not up with that sort of thing it’s best to just stick with the general site. All the movie info from there is recreated in here but let’s dive into why this is so cool.

“Experience,” “The Line” and “Miami-Dade” all offer roughly the same format for content. You navigate page to page, coming across new buddy icons, landscapes, wallpapers or more as you go.

A very cool recurring feature is “Contraband.” A series of three links, these take you deeper into the world of illegal smuggling and other activities. One is about different regions around the world and what each one specialized in in terms of vice. One is about the tools drug smugglers use to evade police. Each one, though, brings you deeper into the world of the movie and not only gives you more understanding of the characters but an appreciation for the real men and women on the front lines.

One of the coolest features is “Explore Miami.” It’s actually a Google Maps mash-up that pinpoints key areas in and around Miami. Some are famous, such as Sky Bar. Some are infamous, such as the Hampton Inn where two men were arrested trying to sell a Russian nuclear missile. It’s this level of nuance that really adds to the site and to the movie. It’s not just a movie now, it’s a real place with real problems where these characters are dealing with real issues. That helps a lot in the suspension of disbelief and in the enjoyment of the movie.

What is so cool about this site isn’t even so much the provocative content or raw dialogue. No, it’s the fact that it exists at all. The creation of an age-restricted site is a big sign that the studio isn’t pandering to an audience or trying to dumb down the marketing of the movie to reach a crowd that’s not old enough to see it. At a time when more and more studios are doing just that, it’s commendable that Universal took the more difficult – but appropriate – path.

Universal helped get people to the site via this online ad.

Other Efforts

Universal entered into a number of promotional partnerships for Miami Vice. In a discussion I had with someone from the studio, he explained that the partnership team at Universal really worked to find high-end fashion and lifestyle companies that fit well with the movie’s style and location. I’d say mission accomplished.

One of the first that made itself known was with spirits maker Bacardi to promote their new Mojito drink. That partnership first became evident because that’s where the trailer premiered. Right there you’ve got a clue as to the target audience for the movie as well as to how Universal was approaching the promotional partnerships.

The other one that I noticed was with fashion chain Hugo Boss. About three weeks before the movie’s opening date the Boss store on Michigan Ave. began displaying the Crockett and Tubbs posters in their window. There were also a number of other things Boss was doing as part of the deal.

Some of the other companies lining up to be part of this return to the Miami narcotics world are Sama Eyewear, Donzi Boats and West Marine, the latter two being boat or marine accessory companies.

DVD sets of the first two seasons of the show have been available for some time. Just in time for the movie’s release, though, they were bundled together and sold at what was basically a two-for-one price. That had to be bad news for people who had already bought the sets but good for fence-sitters who hadn’t yet made the purchase. It’s also a good way to spur sales during a time when interest in the franchise is likely at its peak. NBC also aired a 3-hour special that included the show’s pilot episode as well as a more, including content from the movie.

Word of Mouth

I’m not going to go over the whole thing again but let me hit the high-points. I got an invitation to talk to someone at Universal about the Miami Vice marketing campaign. Not a big deal, at least it shouldn’t have been since executives make themselves available to journalists all the time. Only I’m a blogger, so that is actually is a big deal. I posted a quick note about how that conversation would make this column that much better since I got some details I otherwise likely wouldn’t have found. Good deal.

Then Mack Collier called The Viral Community to action. See, too often the blogosphere gets stuck in “Rant” mode and Mack (alright I baited him into doing it. I’m the kind of guy that offers beer to recovering alcoholics. Sue me.) felt it was important to get the word out about a big company that got that engagement was a good thing. He then wrote two more follow-ups to that initial post counting down how many other members of the Viral Community had posted about this issue, all of which praised it as a good move by Universal. As Mack points out, many of those are on his “Top 25 Marketing Blogs” list and whose total readership is quite substantial. That simple phone call generated a whole lot of positive word of mouth, not only for the movie but for the studio as a whole. Interestingly, as he points out in his final post on the subject, this good word-of-mouth meme had failed to break through into the A-list world. That’s odd, but seems to confirm the stereotype that all bloggers do is bitch. Here was a positive story that got no play outside our community. That’s too bad since Universal deserved it. Tom was also so excited to get some Miami Vice posterage that he posted one, two, three, four pictures of their arrival and unveiling on Flickr and then highlighted their arrival on TheMediaDrop.

I’d encourage everyone to read all the posts The VC put up about this issue, and Mack has done a great job of rounding them up here and here at Viral Garden and here at Beyond Madison Avenue. Read those posts but also check out the comments. Take note of how many people say something like, “I wasn’t planning on seeing Miami Vice but I think I will now.” That’s powerful and tangible results.

So let’s do the math, in the form of a MasterCard commercial:

One phone call to a movie marketing blogger = $.25 and a half hour out of the day
Three posters and their shipping to New Jersey = $8 or $10 maybe?
Value of the word-of-mouth generated by these actions = Priceless

Overall

I admit that initially I wasn’t been very excited about this movie. As the campaign rolled on, though, it changed my mind. The biggest thing the campaign has going for it is that it doesn’t try to dumb-down the movie or misrepresent what it was. This is an adult film with adult themes and situations. It’s not for teenagers who think they’re cool.

That feeling came partially from the trailers and posters but was hammered home by the age-restricted website. That’s a very clear signal as to who the studio intends the movie for. At a time when so many adult comedies and other films are being marketed in ways that are also supposed to appeal to younger kids that’s a relief.

On its own merits the campaign is pretty cool. There’s enough there to make the association with the TV show it’s based on but no overt attempts to make the movie seem like the show. The trailers are slick and well paced (much like Mann’s films as a whole), the posters exude an attitude of studied cool (much like Mann’s films as a whole)…wait…I’m sensing a trend here. Universal has created a campaign that pretty well represents the movie it’s supporting. I think I might go into shock. That’s actually far rarer than it might initially seem.

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Odds & Ends: 7/24/06

I’m on a mini-vacation so you get the links instead of some all-out commentary.

  • Laura Blum thinks success for The Illusionist only if it can successfully cross-market itself to both the art and mainstream audiences.
  • Andrew has a fantastic analysis of the co-branding that goes on when companies sign on to cross-promote movies.
  • Check out the pretty decent Good Year trailer.
  • The Fountain has gotten a new trailer.
  • There’s also a new trailer for The Protector.
  • HackingNetflix has the Scoop Netflix envelope ad.
  • Comic-Con audiences got the first look at such things as:
  • The first trailer for Grudge 2.
  • The Star Trek XI poster.
  • Grindhouse posters (no way these show up in theaters. No way. They’ll be huge hits at comic shops, but that’s about it.)
  • The 300 poster.
  • The abso-Smurfly rocking teaser poster for Iron Man.

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Odds & Ends: 7/21/06

A couple things I’d like to pass on but just don’t know what to do with.

  • Grant McCracken calls on the movie industry to not ignore “chunky marketing” of flicks that fall somewhere between the big blockbusters and the small indie pictures.
  • A lot of marketing efforts are about to get undermined as the MPAA starts emailing ratings info.
  • Disney promoted its former marketing head to lead the studio.

The Religion War

The Dilbert Blog: 0Is The Religion War “Impossible”?

Nothing Adams’ outlines here sounds that implausible. In fact it sounds like just the sort of showdown most Islamic terrorists – and crazed Christian Evangelicals – are gunning for.

Someone recently said that the advantage in any sort of war always is with the craziest or most zealous side. In this case I think the non-Christian entity would take the cake and have that advantage. This is not going to turn out well.

Odds & Ends: 7/20/06

Of course there’s all kinds of good stuff on a day when I’m crammed for time. Well, let’s clear out the old RSS reader.

  • Sony has added bunch of cool stuff to the Spider-Man 3 website, including a blog. Good move.
  • They’ve also done an overhaul of official site for Ghost Rider.
  • Both the movies above will have digital mobile content available for attendees of Comic-Con.
  • Crank gets a somewhat disturbing poster.
  • Guillermo Del Toro puts out a very cool poster for Pan’s Labyrinth.
  • I think I just wet myself watching the trailer for Renaissance
  • Newer and better tie-in video games may be one of the causes for this summer’s box-office successes.
  • Apparently it’s becoming harder and harder for established journalists to get into what screenings there are.
  • I disagree with Wells in that I don’t think this poster for Half Nelson is very good. The “artistic” looking posters have been done better elsewhere.

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