Download PDF: MMM_255_The_Hangover
“Oh my g…what happened here.”
All of us being adults here I think I’m on solid ground when I say most of us, even if it was just back in our misspent college years, have had a morning (or afternoon) where we wake up and don’t remember what exactly happened but know that based on the status of the room around us it had to have been illegal or at least immoral. We’re perhaps not sure whether our friends are alive or not and for just a moment we consider whether or not we can make the state border before anyone discovers the scene.
That’s the basic premise for The Hangover, the new film from Old School director Todd Phillips. Four male friends head to Las Vegas to have a bachelor party before one of the group gets married. A night of drinking and other debauchery, though, gives way the next morning to the realization that the groom-to-be is missing from the hotel room and the three remaining gentlemen have no recollection of the events of the night before. All they know is that, based on the current occupants of the room, it involved Mike Tyson, a tiger and a baby that’s found in the closet. They also know that they need to find the guy getting married or there’s going to be hell – in the form of a mightily honked-off bride – to pay.
For a movie that’s not a comic adaptation and not a sequel and not a reboot, this campaign contains a lot of posters. Most of those are character-centric teasers that highlight many – probably all – of the film’s main characters. They all appear between the movie’s title treatment above and a line of dialogue from the film or some other explanatory text below. So the groom that’s gone missing has “Have you seen this man?” on his poster and the one with Heather Graham says “Well technically I’m an escort,” which also serves nicely to describe who her character is.
The final theatrical poster took the three main characters, the ones played by Cooper, Helms and Galifinakis, added the baby and just let the funny speak for itself. The copy “Some guys just can’t handle Vegas” sets the scene for the movie’s location while also giving some context as to why they look like they do, and the reminder that this is “From the director of ‘Old School’” gives the audience some context that this movie, like that one, is going to be a raunchy comedy about three guys in a wholly inappropriate situation.
With a fairly short running time the first trailer does a pretty decent job of setting up the movie’s plot. It opens with Cooper’s character explaining to the bride that the wedding that’s supposed to be happening is very much not. From there, after a “Two days earlier” transition, we get scenes of them finding a tiger in a bathroom, discovering someone’s missing a tooth, a small man in his underwear jumping out of a car’s trunk and more, before culminating in Mike Tyson air-drumming to the fill from “In the Air Tonight” and then punching out Galifinakis.
The second trailer is a bit more linear in its setup, starting with the gang assembling for the bachelor party trip. After the arrive in Vegas and toast a “night they’re never forget” we get a quick montage of some of the actions that they have indeed forgotten. Most of the rest of the trailer is them traveling around Vegas trying to locate they’re missing buddy and piece together just what the heck happened. It’s just as funny as the first one, but for different reasons since it includes more of a look at the film’s events.
Also, bonus points for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it preview of the same band from the wedding reception in Old School.
There was a red-band trailer released relatively late in the campaign that was pretty funny for the sheer amount of inappropriate material included. It’s obvious from this that the writers of the movie found a level of bad taste and then decided to keep on plunging. There’s actually not a great deal of overlap in terms of content between this and the regular trailers, so it’s not like it’s made simply of extensions of scenes we’ve already seen. There’s a bit of that but there’s also a lot of new material here and it’s all really, really funny.
The movie’s official website opens by playing the second trailer before giving way to the site’s content. There’s no “entering the site” or anything like that, which is a nice change. If you mouse over the menu items at the bottom you get an audio snippet from the movie and as each section loads you get an image from the teaser posters that’s displayed.
The first section is “About the Film” which contains some very nicely written Production Notes that actually explain the film and it’s plot better than the Synopsis as well as information on the Cast and Crew.
“Video” just has the two trailers and “Gallery” has 12 stills both from the movie itself and from the set. “Downloads” lets you grab some Icons, a Wallpaper and a Screensaver.
The next section is “Restricted Content.” Come on, you didn’t think a movie about four guys in Vegas from the director of Old School wasn’t going to have some restricted stuff, did you? Unfortunately the only content there is a Mike Tyson Music Video that intersperses footage from the movie with Tyson singing “In the Air Tonight” at the piano. Kind of anti-climactic to see just a few random curse words and nothing else that’s all that “restricted” or which isn’t just an extension of what we’ve seen before.
The “Special Features” section has two games, the first of which is the Excuse-o-Tron 3000 that gives you a ready-to-use excuse for a variety of uncomfortable situations you might find yourself in. The other is Fighting Chow which pits you against an increasing number of opponents clad only in their underwear and who only want to kick your butt. The Excuse-o-Tron 3000 is also offered as an embeddable game for your website, blog or social network profile.
“Promotions” gives you links to the various sites that have run contests and sweepstakes in conjunction with the film and “Partners” those companies that are helping to otherwise promote and market the movie.
Finally, there’s a link to the movie’s “Soundtrack” and information on what songs are included there.
Also offered at the bottom are icons that prompt you to Share the site via Facebook, Delicious or other social network or social news services.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
TV ads have been running for a couple weeks, mostly (based on my own media consumption habits) at night and in programming that’s geared toward adults, which is only appropriate for an R-rated movie like this. It’s also had it’s share, as far as I’ve seen, of online advertising. I don’t know how much outdoor or other forms of advertising it’s had, though.
In terms of cross-promotions and corporate partners, the official site had a few on the list.
Harrah’s Casino Hotels is first, though there isn’t any detail as to the partnership on either the movie’s site or the casino’s. Also in that category is Caesar’s Palace, where you book a special “Hangover” package that comes with food and lodging and all that. They’re actually more or less the same, since Caesar’s is owned by Harrah’s.
Hangover cure Drinkin’ Mate is also on board with a promotion that awards a trip for two to Las Vegas for those that submit their best Vegas-based story.
A company that I don’t see doing a lot of movie promotions, but which is on-board here, is White Castle. I can only assume this is integrted into the movie in some way because there’s nothing on either site about the deal. Likewise for skin-care product company PeterThomasRoth.
Media and Publicity
Interestingly, one of the first bits of publicity for the movie – two months before it was released and back when I and a lot of other people were thinking this would be a toss-off movie that would get over-shadowed by the sequels, prequels and reboots – was the announcement by Warner Bros. that it had already signed a deal for a sequel.
Cooper included a stop at the Galifinakis-hosted FunnyOrDie show “Between Two Ferns,” where Galifinakis acted like he had no idea who Cooper was, with hilarity ensuing. If you haven’t watched “Ferns,” imagine that SNL skit with Chris Farley playing a talk-show host who does nothing but say “That was awesome” to his interview subjects, but about twice as funny because Galifinakis plays it without winking at the audience so readily.
Not hurting at all were stories like this one from the Los Angeles Times that pegged it as the breakout comedy of the summer. Warner Bros. executives, according to the story, were thrilled with the way the movie played to so broad an audience due to both its story of friendship and its raunchy comedic touches. There’s also this one from Newsweek that labels it the “bromance of the summer.”
With that kind of buzz, the media rounds made by the cast of the movie were just icing on the cake.
Warner Bros. has put together a very cool campaign for this movie, one that looks like it has the potential to join the pantheon of adult-oriented comedy classics from the last four or five years (Old School, Wedding Crashers, Knocked Up) pretty quickly.
The posters are solid, the trailers really funny and much of the publicity done with tongue firmly planted in-cheek. The one kind of weak element is the website, which disappoints with its lack of inappropriate material. Considering some recent R-rated comedies have devoted half of its online presence to age-restricted content the fact that this doesn’t is kind of odd and not in keeping with what I think the audience might expect.
Still, I like the stuff that works well and think, especially with the support of all that glowing press, the campaign will work well at bringing out an audience that might be looking for a few laughs in-between high-octane blockbusters with massive explosions.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
- 6/12/09: Not much of a surprise, but the image used for the poster is a Photoshopped version of a shot that appears in the movie, with sunglasses added to the baby, some brand names removed form the baby’s carrier and the characters moved closer together.
- 7/17/09: That same story in Variety includes an examination of how The Hangover was tailored for each region. Interesting since this is the sort of comedy I would expect would be pretty universal in its appeal.
- 7/31/09: Tucked into a story about how entertainment and lifestyle sites are weathering the advertising downturn alright – and sometimes even growing – is a bit about how “what’s cool” filter Thrillist ran a campaign for The Hangover that culminated in a New York City party (cause that’s what Thrillist does) with over 1,000 people attending that featured a look at an extended trailer.