Movie Marketing Madness: I Love You, Man

i-love-you-man-poster-2Earlier this week I dismissed the word “mumblecore” as being in any way useful as a title/description of a certain genre of films.

Today I’m here to bury right off the bat the word “bromance” as both a general societal term as well as, again, being a heading for movies about the friendship between two guys. The term has emerged, I guess, because we needed a word for entertainment writers to use that didn’t include “buddy.” I’m not sure why but, like mumblecore, it’s a stupid word that implies that the two guys who are friends in the story are actually “in love” but in a purely hetero way that isn’t sexual at all. The problem is that, again, it’s a stupid word and is more than a little insulting, cheapening the idea of heterosexual romance as well as adding an unneeded layer of insinuation to a friendship. So you won’t be hearing me use that again.

I Love You, Man, is the story of a guy played by Paul Rudd who’s on the verge of marriage but finds himself without any close male friends who he can ask to be his best man at the wedding. Encouraged by his fiance to find one, he embarks on a Frodo-esque journey to make friends. He comes across (I’m not sure how this happens) a brash, live-for-the-moment kind of guy played by Jason Segel who helps him embrace his inner man-child and male bonding ensues.

It’s being sold, as we’ll see, as being very much in the same vein as the movies directed and produced by Judd Apatow, who has pioneered the resurgence of comedic movies that explore relationships in sometimes crude (but often very true) fashion. That’s helped along by the fact that both Rudd and Segel are Apatow production alumni, so the campaign – and the movie – come with the baggage of all those expectations. Let’s look at how it matches up to those expectations.

The Posters

Since the movie is hinged upon the characters played by Segel and Rudd it makes sense that the first series of teaser posters featured each of them. The teasers had either one or the other against a simple white background with some sort of slang phrase floating above their heads. In addition to never having heard these phrases before in my life, the teasers come off as a little awkward simply because it’s kind of weird with the guys just standing there. They look like they’re posing for a public service ad. Rudd, in the one that says “Totes Magotes,” looks like he could be appearing on a subway ad warning that you too could be at risk for syphilis.

The theatrical poster is much better, though. Like the one-sheet for Wedding Crashers (the unofficial launch, I think, of this particular type of movie) it feels the strongest case to be made for seeing the movie is the pairing of the two male stars and the designers aren’t wrong. While the pose isn’t as action-focused as the Crashers poster, it does simply put the two leads front and center below the title treatment. At the bottom is the copy “Are you man enough to say it,” again playing up the notion that you need to be a mature man to tell another that you love them. Which you don’t, and which is rooted in all sorts of post-modern psychology that I have a problem with. But those issues aside this is a good poster that hits the main point of the movie and makes it very attractive to the crowd that has made Knocked Up, Superbad and other movies like that a success in recent years.

The Trailers

I LOVE YOU MANTwo trailers have been created for I Love You, Man, one all-ages and one red-band restricted version.

Looking at the all-ages version first, it starts off with the movies basic setup, that Paul Rudd’s character doesn’t have a best friend who’s a guy and never really has. Instead he’s established as a “girlfriend” guy, which I at first took to mean someone whose friends were primarily girls but which later seems to mean he’s just always had girlfriends.

From there we see just how awkward making new friends is going to be, including what winds up being a horrific encounter with Thomas Lennon, and then eventually meeting up with Segel’s man-child character. That works out much better, though, and we see that much of the comedy of the movie is going to be derived from the very free-spirited Segel teaching Rudd how to have fun and live life without worrying about responsibilities, which seems like an…odd definition of being a “man.” There’s also a joke in there about how Rudd’s character likes The Devil Wears Prada just to make him seem a bit effeminiate which is necessary for I’m not sure why.

The restricted trailer follows the same basic format, at least for the first two thirds of the length of the trailer. The main difference up until that point is that the scenes shown features coarser language than the other one. There’s also a bit of new footage that offers similarly crass humor at that the end, but the two are fundamentally the same with the language being the big difference.

Online

The movie’s official website opens with, basically, a TV spot for the film and then brings you to the main front page, which features the same artwork we’ve seen on the poster.

i-love-you-man-pic-4“About the Film” is up first in the menu of the site’s content. You’ll find a two paragraph Synopsis there as well as Production Notes that start with the conceptualization of the movie’s story and then into profiles of the cast and finally actual stories from the production. They’re pretty interesting to read, even if they don’t rise above the level of your average celeb mag feature article.

Next is “Video” which has the trailer and 10 clips from the movie, most of which are extended bits of footage that we’ve seen in the trailers. These are a great addition to the site since they let the comedy breathe a bit but then there’s no TV spots, which I wish they’d included here.

“Downloads” contains a set of Desktop wallpapers, some AIM Icons and, interestingly, a selection of Email Signatures, something I always like to see.

“Cast and Crew” is exactly what you’d expect. There are about 14 stills from the movie in “Gallery.”

Like a lot of comedies lately this site features a “Soundboard.” There’s not much to it, it’s just a little feature where you can hear some audio clips from the movie. No big deal, honestly.

To house the red-band trailer and more there is a Restricted section on the site. Enter your name and birthday here and you can view the trailer as well as a half-dozen or so clips with all the profanity still in them. You’ll recognize some, again, as being longer versions of what we’ve seen in the trailers and some are really funny. There are also a couple things you can click on in the environment on the page and make them do something but they’re not that funny.

The movie also has a presence on Facebook that’s kind of interesting to look at so you can read the comments to each new content addition and one on MySpace that features almost no content but is heavy on promoting the contests around the movie.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

I LOVE YOU MANAdvertising for I Love You, Man has been all over both television and the internet, with ads appearing just about everywhere I’ve turned for the last two or three weeks. The TV spots more or less were just condensed versions of the trailer, showing off a funny scene or two. The online ads basically just used the poster art in the banner ads and the trailer in the motion ads.

Media and Publicity

The movie has gotten a lot of press simply by virtue of it’s being in that category that shall not be named. Beyond that in the press it’s been a lot of the usual interviews and such.

Only one cross-promotion of note has crossed my radar. Vespa is giving away one of its fuel-efficient scooters in a contest that asks people to tell the story of how far they’ve gone for a friend. You have to be a member of MySpace to enter, which isn’t the lowest of barriers to entry. AdRants is not a fan of the promotion, mostly because Angela sees it as the latest in a series of misguided campaigns from the company.

Overall

i-love-you-man-titleIf I said “meh” would you all get what I was feeling about this campaign? I want to like it since I’m genuinely looking forward to this movie and and want to see it. But it’s kind of leaving me cold. It’s almost like the campaign isn’t trying that hard to convince me to hit the theaters. Maybe it’s just that anything less than the “OMG YOU NEED TO SEE THIS HERE AND NOW” attitude from the Watchmen campaign is making me think the push isn’t that intense, but I’m lacking a clear cut reason to see this movie from the marketing.

I guess I like the campaign overall in that I like the trailer and poster in particular. The website isn’t all it could be but that’s not a huge surprise. But coupled with the sparse MySpace page and it makes me think online wasn’t a huge priority, maybe because they didn’t see those as mass audience generators and so put the emphasis on TV. Just my thoughts.

So overall it’s good but not great. Thankfully the biggest competition it has this weekend is The Knowing, which probably is going to go for the same sort of audience (adults looking for a bit of good entertainment) so it’s probably going to do just fine.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

  • 4/3/09: Brandweek dives more into the promotional partnership deal between the movie and Vespa, talking about both the contest the scooter company ran and also how the vehicle was integrated into the movie, something that coincides with co-star Jason Segel driving one in real life. Vespa is trying to position their scooters as environmentally friendly and relatively low-cost alternatives.
  • 4/3/09: I also received pictures of the billboards that were actually installed around L.A. for the fictional real estate agency owned and operated by Paul Rudd’s character.