Movie Marketing Madness: Horrible Bosses

Everyone, if they’ve worked a day in their life, has grumbled at some point about their boss. Usually the feeling is that even if they’re not an out and out moron that they certainly don’t possess the skills or knowledge to do the job that they’ve been called on to do and have forgotten what it’s like to be a worker in the trenches actually *doing* the ridiculous stuff that they request on a regular basis and with almost no notice.

Of course I have no idea about this personally as I have the best bosses in the world who positively ooze enthusiasm and understanding.

The new movie Horrible Bosses is about a group of guys who take the usual grumbling to a new level. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudekis play a group of friends who all have terrible – some might say horrible – bosses. Bateman works in an office run by a tyrannical and manipulative exec played Kevin Spacey, Sudeikis at a chemical company that has as its head the bigoted, idiotic manager played by Colin Farrell and Day works as an assistant to a sexual harassment-prone dentist played by Jennifer Aniston. So when the three workers decide they’ve finally had enough of suffering under the wrath of those above them they figure the only thing to do is kill them. This being a comedy wackiness, of course, ensues and things don’t go quite as smoothly as they hoped they would.

The Posters

The first series of teaser posters that were released showed the relationships between each of the three friends and their respective bosses. So the one with Day and Aniston has “Is your boss a sex-crazed maneater?” on it and so on, with each poster coming with a similar identification of the character defect of each boss. They’re pretty funny and certainly make it clear where the comedy in the movie is going to come from. There was also one for the “murder consultant” played by Foxx that was also quite funny.

The three images were then edited and all included on a single one-sheet that just used a word description such as “Psycho” or “Tool” for each boss, putting the image of their put-upon employee underneath them.

Six more character banners were released. Three of them featured the protagonists and had the copy “Ever wish your boss were dead” on them while the other three featured the bosses themselves along with some copy that acts as a description of what their particular claim to the “horrible” title is.

The Trailers

The first trailer is kind of hilarious. It sets up the relationship between the three friends and establishes that they all have terrible, terrible people as bosses. Nick’s is a sabotaging jerk who slips him some scotch like it’s part of a celebration only to then use that against him later. Dale’s is always sexually harassing him and even threatening to lie about their relationship to his fiancee. Kurt’s is an intolerant ass with a bad comb-over who wants him to fire the fat and handicapped where they work. So they conspire to murder all their bosses but of course hilarity ensues.

It’s a very funny trailer that shows off how things are going to go down in the movie but without spoiling things entirely. Mostly it shows off the great comedic chops of Bateman, Sudeikis and Day, who play off each other very well, though certainly Farrell really comes out here as well.

Later on a red-band version was released that was even funnier. We start off with the three friends having an awkward conversation with their “murder consultant” that shows just how inept and clueless they are. We then get a glimpse of just how bad their bosses really are and how they’re abused at work. The rest shows just how bad the communication among these guys really is, culminating with the hiring of a gentleman who they presumed to be a hit-man but who engages in…other activities. It’s really good.

Online

When the official website finishes loading the all-ages trailer begins playing in full screen video, but you can skip that and continue on to the main content of the site. Despite my instincts, there’s nothing that is clickable about the series of photos of each character that appears when you do so.

The first section in the menu that’s hidden in the lower left hand corner is “About” which is where you’ll find a pretty good Synopsis as well as Cast and Filmmaker information and PDF Production Notes for you to download if you really want to dive into the film’s making.

Next up is “Meet the Bosses” which gives you a look into just who these terrible people are and why they’ve been targeted by our story’s heroes. Since this is the central conceit of the movie it’s actually kind of cool that they decided to break stuff out like this.

“Video” has the one green-band Trailer as well as two TV Spots. There are eight stills from the movie in “Photos” “Downloads” then has Posters, Wallpapers and Buddy Icons you can grab and use.

Finally there are sections for “Tickets,” “Sweepstakes,” which has links to sites that ran contests related to the movie and finally “Soundtrack” which lets you play clips from the movie’s album.

The movie’s Facebook page has a lot more video, a lot more photos and more insights into the movie’s characters than the official website along with updates on the release of extended clips, media appearances and more.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There was quite a bit of TV advertising done, with spots coming in both 30 and 60 second flavors. Most hit many of the same notes the trailers do and feature primarily the same clips and gags that are seen there, though a couple include some new shots. But the point that’s sold is that these bosses really are horrible and deserving of death and that the three friends aren’t exactly the most hip cats on the block.

Media and Publicity

I’m not sure if it was on other people’s radar before this but the first time it popped up on mine was after a story pegged it (Los Angeles Times, 8/10/10) as the next potentially big R-rated comedy breakout hit. It got some mentions a bit later (LAT, 3/17/11) about how it was part of a new wave of comedies set primarily at an office of some sort. And then shortly after that (Entertainment Weekly, 3/31/11) the movie got a spread collecting some of the first official photos from the film.

Later on and much closer to release there were stories about how the movie’s story was based on the real life resentment held by its screenwriter (BusinessWeek, 6/30/11) and how writing the story was basically him acting out wish fulfillment from his previous careers. There was also a profile of Bateman (New York Times, 6/30/11) and how he’s become such an in-demand ensemble comedy player.

Overall

This is very much just my perception, but somewhere about a month or so ago Horrible Bosses all of a sudden became the most anticipated movie of the summer. As comic book adaptations were coming and going and nothing was really lighting the world on fire I think people – including myself – began looking at this movie as being the brightest potential light that was on the horizon.

That more or less coincides with when the marketing for the movie kicked into high gear, with trailers and posters being released pretty regularly. Those trailers and posters have all used the movie’s strongest asset – a top-flight ensemble cast – as the main reason why people should want to come and see this movie. It might be an uphill battle against the sheer media overload that’s been utilized by campaigns for Transformers and other tentpoles but this is a strong campaign for a movie that looks really funny.