As if he wasn’t already there, Chris Campbell (I originally thought this was Karina – my bad) secures his position on the list of my all-time favorite people by including Peter Boyle’s appearance in the middle of Young Frankenstein on her chronicling of the all-time best movie cameos.
Sprint and National CineMedia have entered into a partnership that makes Sprint the exclusive provider of pre-show spots encouraging cell phone silence in the movie theater, spots that will be incorporated into the blocks of programming put together by NCM.
The campaign will be put together by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and ultimately appear on screens in over 1,100 theaters nationwide that run NCM’s FirstLook package. That includes screens operated by Cinemark, AMC and Regal Entertainment, the three largest chains in the U.S.
The new campaign will begin running in October of this year. The exclusive agreement is described as “multi-year,” but no end-date is provided.
Let’s be honest: There’s no way this movie is going to avoid comparisons to the almost universally loved Sideways.
That movie, released a shocking four years ago, was roundly hailed as an offbeat masterpiece filled with interesting characters, some sharp writing and some great performances. Not just that, it was largely credited with bringing to the public a notion that wine was something to be truly enjoyed and discussed, essentially kicking off a round of public conversation around wines.
So Bottle Shock has some big footsteps to follow. The movie, based on a true story, takes place in 1976, before the U.S. had any sort of presence in the wine-making community. A British wine expert, played by Alan Rickman, travels to California to try out some American wines and see if there’s any chance they’re of any serious quality, a decision that will be made through a tasting competition pitting those wines against the best the old French masters have to offer.
The main point of contact he has in the California wine world is the character played by Bill Pullman, the owner of a small winery. He’s trying to succeed in a tough market and is helped by his son and a handful of friends, all of whom want to help him win this competition and gain some credibility for their live’s passion.
I’m not entirely sure the order in which they were released but there were three posters created and distributed for the film, all of which strike a little different tone.
The first, and my favorite, plays up the rivalry between the French and the U.S. by showing a formation of bottles flying over the Eiffel Tower, with the “The French never knew what hit them” copy point on one of the planes. It’s pretty simple, with just a cast list and a credit block rounding out the elements in the design, but I think it’s wonderfully artistic. That sort of approach, I think, goes a long way to appealing to the independent film-minded audience member since it’s not as overt as the kind of poster that would be created for a mainstream film.
My second favorite of the three is also very subtle and artistic. This one presents a wine bottle selection, with the blue ribbon winner right next to the title. It’s main appeal to the independent film audience is, in addition to the same subdued nature as the first poster, the inclusion of quotes at the top of the poster that are meant to establish the film’s indie cred. I also really like this one because it uses the same theme of the orange bottle display that we’ll later see on the movie’s website.
The third poster just doesn’t work for me. It drops the subtlety in favor of cartoonish drawings of some French types staring down some California hippies – their lack of culture is emphasized by the inclusion of the requisite surfboarder – each team with their bottles in hand and seemingly ready to do battle.
It might just be me, but the placement of these cartoon characters against the photographic background of a vineyard is just a little too jarring and and creates a sense of a straight-forward comedy that more or less lacks any sort of genuine wit about it.
It’s certainly not the worst poster I’ve ever seen, but I don’t think it’s very consistent with the rest of the poster campaign.
There are two trailers in play here, though, as we’ll see, one is vastly superior to the other.
The first one immediately sets the stage for the movie’s premise, showing Alan Rickman’s character about to embark on a trip to the U.S. in order to find some wines worthy of even competing against the French’s production. The character is shown repeatedly to be a bit of a snob and certainly not someone that’s going to fit in easily with the American culture circa 1976.
Pullman’s character, on the other hand, is presented as someone who is quite simply passionate about what he does, which is try to make a good bottle of wine. He’s repeatedly shown getting very emotional about succeeding at his job.
In between all this there’s a love triangle between some of the younger characters, all of whom see the creation of the perfect bottle of wine as the highest form of achievement
Overall, though, this first spot is funny, quirky and completely enjoyable, striking a very quirky tone as it presents this cast of characters as all with their flaws and eccentricities, but in a very believable and grounded way.
The second trailer goes a little too far into trying to sell the movie as a straight comedy. The gags are a little inflated and ill-timed, despite the fact that they’re mostly the same ones that appear in the first spot. This one focuses a bit more than the first on the competition that the wines are in, which isn’t a problem aside from the fact that the result is completely and utterly telegraphed, even if it’s not that big a surprise.
The biggest sin this trailer commits, though, is the gratuitous inclusion of Doobie Bros. music. Don’t misunderstand me, I like the Doobies as much as anyone. But the use of such blatant period music to mark the movie as taking place in a certain year just sets a completely different tone than the one I think the filmmakers would like to. It’s too cliched, too ordinary for a movie that clearly has an interesting story to tell.
The design of the movie’s official website is immediately appealing. True, it’s more than a little derivative of the overall design for Sideways, another movie about wine and the wine culture, but that’s forgivable since that design is so very, very cool. Plus, it’s not a straight rip, just similar, so that’s alright.
When you first load the site the trailer begins, but you can close that and get more immediately to the site’s content. At the top of the page there’s a link to a very well-written and amusing “Synopsis” as well as a listing of where you can buy tickets. In between that is “Media,” where you’ll be able to find the Trailer and a Behind the Scenes video containing cast interviews and such. There’s also a “Picture Gallery” of both stills and production shots. In a nice move that speaks to the movie’s independent spirit, you can actually download those pictures in a Zip file for easy adding to your own site.
And that actually leads me into the next section, which is “Downloads.” A far cry from the usual batch of useless stuff, these downloads are all meant for people who are excited about the movie and want to spread the word. There’s a batch of photos, a media kit, a handful of banner ads and the movie’s trailer, all of which are again available as Zip files.
Considering independent movies like this one are dependent to a large extent for their success on good word of mouth, enabling the downloading of all this material is fantastic. I immediately downloaded the package of photos (web press edition) and used them here.
Much of this content is available on the main part of the page two, on the appropriately labeled bottles amongst the larger background. In addition to what we’ve already covered there’s “Cities,” a list of cities and locations where the movie is opening, a list which you can also download. Finally, there’s a “Sweepstakes” where you can enter to win a trip package to California’s wine region.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Nothing that I’ve seen. It’s a small, period movie and so doesn’t exactly lend itself to corporate partnerships.
Media and Publicity
Mostly the usual stuff and mainly, it seems, focused around the three younger stars in the movie; Freddy Rodriguez, Rachel Taylor and Chris Pine.
One break from that was a New York Times story about the movie’s failure to find a distributor, that despite acclaim from festical audiences and critics who found it charming and a premise that would seemingly be appealing to the public. Part of those troubles may have been the result of a climate that, when it was being shopped around, was beginning to turn hostile toward independent films as they increasingly failed at the box office and as specialty divisions were being shuttered left and right.
That all led the director to go the self-distribution route, raising the money himself, directing the marketing efforts himself and doing just about everything else that would normally be done by the studio infrastructure.
This is a wonderfully charming campaign that contains a lot of appeal, especially for a non-mainsteam audience. Don’t get me wrong, there’s like a lot in there that a mainstream audience could love. But for the most part the film is presented as quirky and funny in a way that probably doesn’t involve anyone being punched in the crotch or an otherwise strong, independent woman falling down or hitting her head on something. And the lack of those elements likely makes it immediately inaccessible to 75 percent of the movie-going public.
There are some problems I have with the campaign such as the third poster and the second trailer but my primary issue with those elements is that they’re very much not consistent with the rest of the brand as it’s been presented eleswhere.
But overall this is a good marketing push for a movie that I think looks very attractive to fans of films built on interesting characters.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
- 8/20/08: As much as I liked the campaign and would like to see the movie, it’s unfortunate to read accounts like this of some comment marketing practices that are very much not in line with the best practices that have been established and are employed by many of the top social media marketing practitioners.