It’s always a problem when movies are made in one era and viewed in another certain aspects of the society and culture that are portrayed in the film wind up not ringing quite right with contemporary audiences. So the attitudes and behaviors of, say, the playboy culture portrayed in An Affair to Remember is a bit confusing to people watching the movie in 2008.
Most of the time this is a problem if you’re talking about decades passing. But sometimes a similar problem can happen in the year between a movie being shot and its eventual release.
Such is the case with Confessions of a Shopaholic . The movie tells the story of a young woman who grows up with the idea that shopping can bring her all the happiness she needs in life. Finding herself under a mountain of debt due to her lavish lifestyle she manages to land a job at a high-fashion magazine where she hopes to put her shopping expertise to use.
The problem for the movie and its marketing team is that things have, to put it lightly, changed in the last six to eight months. The U.S. economy has officially been pegged as being in a recession, foreclosures are piling up, jobs are being lost and there’s all sorts of other problems.
So how do you market a movie about conspicuous consumption in an era where conspicuous consumption is out of style? Very, very carefully.
Only one poster was released domestically. It shows star Isla Fisher on the side of a shopping bag and the copy “All she ever wanted was a little credit.” It makes the point of the movie’s story pretty clear and works alright, even if it is just a little on the plain side.
I think the point of having Fisher standing there with an “Oh my!” look on her face is that she’s surprised to find herself in so much trouble or something but the problem is that the poster identifies none of that trouble. So instead she’s standing there like she’s surprised to find herself there on a poster, which might not be what the designers were going for.
Not a whole lot more to say about it since there isn’t a whole lot more there.
The trailer does do a good job of conveying the movie’s story, even if it does wind up coming off as more of a cautionary tale than anything else. It shows the main character’s awakening into the world of shopping as a means to the end of happiness and the lifestyle she creates for herself. From there it transitions into the conflict that provides the movie’s story, that of her needing to find a job to pay her debt and eventually finding love at the same time, meaning there’s going to a healthy dose of “romantic comedy” in the mix as well.
It works for what it is and it’s not bad as these sorts of things go, but it comes off playing every bit as dated as when someone digs out the trailer for a movie like “Staying Alive” on YouTube. Watching it six months ago would have been a very different experience than it was watching it today. And that’s a bad thing for the studio.
Well first of all, loading the official website will result in quite a shock. When you first hit the site’s URL it redirects to a Bluefly.com promotional URL as the site loads. That’s quite a promotional partnership and I can’t recall ever seeing something quite like that before, where a partner actually hijacks (for lack of a better word) the movie’s identity in quite such a manner.
In fact the site maintains that URL throughout the experience. That means there’s a Bluefly shopping bar at the top of the screen the entire time. That’s just incredibly odd.
But let’s leave that aside for now and deal with the site’s content itself.
On the front page are invitations to “View Trailer,” “Get the Soundtrack” and “Get the Shopaholic Application.” The first two are pretty standard so let’s deal with the last on. It’s a Facebook application called “Shopaholic Magazine” that allows you to send Bluefly-branded gifts to your friends, play games and watch exclusive video content from the movie.
Backing up a step to Enter the Site, the main content is arranged not only along a menu at the bottom of the page but also like a shopping district, with each story representing a different content area.
“About” contains a one paragraph Story synopsis that’s light on plot descriptions and heavy on the credits for the movie. It gives due credit to the source novels by Sophie Kinsella but is otherwise not very interesting. There’s also “Cast & Crew” that talks about the major players in the movie as well as containing Production Notes.
The Trailer, a TV Spot and a Featurette on the film’s making are all found under “Video.” There’s also a tab for Clips but that’s still labeled as Coming Soon just a scant three days before the film’s opening.
It’s a little hard to keep count but it seems like there are about 15 still photos within the “Gallery.” “Downloads” has a couple Wallpapers, a Screensaver, some Buddy Icons and another link to the Facebook application.
“Shop” is a pretty unique experience in my history of looking at movie sites. The section contains a video featurette on the designer who created the movie’s fashionable looks and then links (again) to the Bluefly site where you can buy those looks.
The one place you won’t find a link to Bluefly is under “Partners.” What you will find are links to Kipling, Borders, Nokia, Too Faced, Cotton and Paige Premium Design. More on them later.
“Mobile” simply prompts you to send a text to shop.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Disney/Touchstone put a full court advertising press into effect on this movie. I saw commercials for it all over TV, especially on channels like HGTV that are frequented by women. There were also a bunch of online ads that I saw so obviously the studio wasn’t afraid to get the movie in front of the audience.
BrandFreak did note that a shift occurred someone along the line with the commercials eventually spenind more time dealing with the character’s problems and less time glamorizing her fashion-filled lifestyle.
In terms of cross-promotions here’s the details of what I saw on the official site’s Partners page:
- Kipling’s site doesn’t have any information on the partnership.
- Border’s link takes you to the retailer’s “Backlot” section that contains information on current movies that have been made into movies. There’s a prompt to watch the movie’s trailer and find out more about the source book there.
- Nokia’s logo takes you to the product page for their 7510 model, with the copy of “Fashion Goes Mobile.” Nothing on the page is specific to the movie, though.
- On the Too Faced page there’s a promotion for a limited edition movie-themed palette of make-up.
- For cotton’s promotion there’s a sweepstakes on the partner’s page. The sweepstakes page has the trailer, a prompt to read the book and information on mall events and promotions being held around the movie’s release.
- Paige’s site has a picture of Fisher on it and when you click it you go to a pair of jeans specifically designed for and probably featured in the movie. Those jeans are available at Bloomingdale’s and you can read all about the partnership at BrandFreak.
Media and Publicity
Unfortunately much of the movie’s press coverage has been focused around it feeling a bit prematurely dated. That sort of story circulated around the blogosphere for a couple months and culminated in an LA Times story that had to hurt.
On a more positive note there was some coverage online when it was revealed the movie would contain a first look at the poster for Disney’s upcoming Prince of Persia movie.
The campaign is so-so and I get the sense this is one that Disney/Touchstone is kind of hoping results in a solid double at the box-office as being the best possible result.
If nothing else it’s pretty darn consistent to the brand throughout the campaign. Everything hits the same seven or so notes and hammers home the movie’s identity to the audience. Sure, as noted, there’s a bit of course adjustment that was done in the advertising campaign but it’s relatively minor.
Let’s go back to the official site for a moment. I can’t get over the complete brand integration it shares with Bluefly. The retail site’s branding is right there the entire time. I can’t imagine what discussions led to this co-branded offering but it had to be just mind-blowing.
The problem with that integration is that it actually wound up getting in the way of the movie’s brand. It sat there, consistently offering the visitor an opportunity to disengage with the movie and being engaging with the shopping site. That’s good for the latter for bad for the former.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
- 3/9/09: Behind the Buzz has more on the integration of online retailer Bluefly into the movie’s online presence. Some good stuff but it refers to a “microsite” when the movie’s URL actually redirected to the Bluefly site.