Movie Marketing Madness: The Hangover Part II

We all, I would imagine, have that one night. The one where things were running on all eight cylinders with your friends, refreshments (of whatever sort) seemed to magically replenish themselves, you were the funniest and most charming you’ve ever been and everything just went incredibly right. For most people this happened at some point in college and, despite the feeling the next morning that everything went absolutely right, there were major gaps in everyone’s recollection about what exactly transpired. The attempts to piece together where everything went right (or wrong) may ore may not have taken place on a fishing trawler headed to Nova Scotia.

In The Hangover two years ago, director Todd Phillips took audiences into just such a night for a group of friends. More specifically he took us into the events of the day after the friends tore up Las Vegas while celebrating the impending nuptials of one of their group, who was missing in action and who they needed to find before he was supposed to get married.

The Hangover Part II is, then, operating on familiar territory. Once again we are at the scene of a wedding, only this time in Thailand and not Vegas. And once again the group of guys go out for a low key celebration and wind up completely hammered and trying to connect the dots of the various clues as to what happened during the previous night’s debauchery. And instead of trying to find the groom they’re trying to find the younger brother of the bride, who tagged along and is now nowhere to be found. 

The Posters

The first poster was all about making sure the audience realized we were going back to very familiar ground. So it just shows the three main characters – and a monkey – obviously recovering after a night of hard living. The copy at the top promises “The Wolfpack is back” while the bottom lets us know the setting has changed by intoning that “Bangkok has them now.” It’s alright and certainly is consistent color-wise with the look and feel of the campaign for the first movie so it’s hearkening back to that first installment in a number of ways.

Much like the first movie a set of character posters was created and released that featured a different quote for each person/animal. Each one also guaranteed again that the Wolfpack was indeed back and so on.

The Trailers

The first teaser trailer doesn’t give the audience a whole lot of information. As the camera slowly pans over the scene of the previous night’s debauchery a series of critics quotes from the first movie are shown. We finally see the three guys walking down a foreign market street. The only dialogue we get is from Galifianakis, who remarks that it’s nice that they’re all back together again.

The full-length trailer that followed continued to make it clear that we’re on familiar territory with this sequel. We’re in Thailand (hilariously misprounounced by Galifianakis) for Stu’s wedding and his bride to be encourages the guys to take her little brother out for what’s planned to be a subdued night out. But once again the gang wakes up with no idea what has transpired the night before and with someone – this time Teddy, the little brother – the one who’s missing. So they set out to first figure out where they are and what happened. Once again they conveniently run in to Chow, who seems to be helping them but is really just a loose cannon. There are plenty of laughs here but mostly this is about selling the audience on a return to these characters and on that front it works pretty well.

Online

The movie’s official website begins by playing the trailer as full screen video but you can skip and close that. After that the first section is “About the Film” which has Cast and Filmmaker bios as well as a Story synopsis and Production Notes you can download and read if you so choose.
“Videos” has both of the Trailers and “Photos” has just over two dozen stills from the movie that you can view in full screen mode. You can grab Posters, Icons and Wallpapers in the “Downloads” section.

A list of sites that participated in giveaways and movie-related contests can be found in “Sweepstakes” while the companies that had some sort of tie-in promotion are in “Partners.”

Finally “Soundtrack” lets you sample some tracks from the movie’s soundtrack and “Crouching Monkey, Hidden Chow” is some sort of game that you have to verify your age using Facebook Connect to play so I didn’t do so.

The movie’s Facebook page pretty much just has the usual array of photos, videos, prompts to visit features on the main site and updates about new material as it’s released.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A number of TV spots began running in late April that largely played up the audience’s affiliation with the first movie and made it clear we’re watching the same group of people get involved in a situation similar to what happened in that earlier film only in a new location. They’re all pretty funny but don’t go out any much of any new ground, though to be fair they probably don’t need to. Further spots would continue to hit the “it happened again” theme but also be, for whatever reason, much funnier in their own right and show off the movie as its own thing and not just a bit of deja vu.

In what seems to me an extremely odd promotion, there was a game utilizing location-based service SCVNGR that was run with convenience chain 7-Eleven. Stores hosted a mobile scavenger hunt that encouraged people to take pictures with Big Gulps and so on. Those Big Gulp cups featured the faces of the cast. It’s odd to me because 1) It’s not a toy- or comic-based franchise picture and 2) Because it’s an R-rated movie. On that last point I have to wonder if this even comes close to passing the requirement that most of the audience that’s going to see the ads and promotions are going to be of an appropriate age.

Other promotional partners included Last Round hangover support supplement, Singha Beer and t-shirt maker Ike Behar.

Media and Publicity 

Aside from updates about location and such the first real big piece of news took the form of rumors that the movie could possibly be the first stop on Mel Gibson’s rehabilitation tour, with the actor said to be making a cameo as a Thai tattoo artist. Whatever good that news might have done was soon undone by reports (Los Angeles Times, 10/21/10) that while the director and other executives others that were involved – presumably the cast – had shot the idea down. Gibson was quickly replaced Liam Neeson at the behest of Cooper, but he was eventually replaced when he wasn’t available for reshoots (THR, 4/10/11)

Leaks of various shots both official and behind-the-scenes continued and sort of culminated in an “Entertainment Tonight” interview with the cast where they talked about the different tones between this and the first movie.

There was a small presence for the movie at 2011 CinemaCon, with the trailer debuting for the attendees there.

The first full length trailer became the subject of more stories when it was reported (LAT, 4/6/11) that it was being pulled from theaters because it had not been “properly vetted” by the studio before it was sent out. Much of the outrage seemed to be in relation to a simulated sex act performed by a monkey as well as the fact that this hard-R trailer was playing in front of the PG-13 thriller Source Code. It’s hard not to think this was all calculated by the studio to hype up a trailer that basically played like the spot for the first movie, just with a Find/Replace command run on references to the setting.

Phillips and his predilection for pushing boundaries became the focus of some press (LAT, 5/1/11) where the director talked about how he knows when to pull back with the raunchiness he has a tendency to put on screen. Further press also focused on the outrageous antics in the movie (Entertainment Weekly, 5/12/11) and how the cast and crew tried to ramp up the funny in this sequel.

Galifianakis was the subject of some solo press as well, being interviewed at length about how he might actually detest his audience (Time, 5/19/11) or, alternatively, is never dropping character in some sort of career-long performance art piece.

Overall

There are definitely some things to like about this campaign but, as I suspect is the case with the movie itself, they’re mostly the same sort of things that worked about the campaign for the first movie.

No, the marketing doesn’t exactly break any new ground here. In fact it seems to be very calculated about how it steadfastly refuses to try and break any new ground, instead insisting at every opportunity that the film will be an absolute return to the first installment and promising that if you liked the notes that movie it you’ll also enjoy this one. That might be a problem artistically, but from a selling point of view it makes a ton of sense.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s