Movie Marketing Madness: Salvation Boulevard

Any time an idea becomes too deeply entrenched in someone’s mind that they stop listening to outside opinions things have the potential to become dangerous. We can all disagree about various topics or approaches but the conversation hopefully always remains civil and friendly. If we lose that then bad things start happening.

The new movie Salvation Boulevard, based on a book of the same name, is about just such a rivalry that goes south. Pastor Dan Day (Pierce Brosnan) is a revivalist preacher with a fiercely loyal following of people who believe he can do no wrong. In the press his chief rival is Dr. Paul Blaylock (Ed Harris), a scientist who is constantly sparring with Day over the two’s contrary world views. One day their friendly competition goes a bit far and, ultimately, complicates the life of Carl (Greg Kinnear), one of Day’s congregation who knows the bad things Day has done but who doesn’t exactly find a receptive audience in the people from the church.

The Posters

The first poster for the movie was kind of corny and ridiculous. A big set of praying hands are holding Kinnear in their grasp, a shocked expression Photoshopped on his face. Those hands are surrounded by a ring of faces of the other major cast members while the copy “Faith alone doesn’t cut it anymore” manages to be both unfunny AND blasphemous, a nice trick to pull off.

The Trailers

The first trailer starts out by introducing us to Carl, who’s held up as a shining example of Pastor Dan’s teachings. The both of them go to visit Blaylock, who wants to co-write a book that contrasts their world views. But then Dan shoots Blaylock, later blaming Carl for what he says was an accidental shooting. Carl of course denies it and points the finger at Dan but everyone around him, from his own wife to his best friend, doesn’t believe him, insisting that he needs to just confess what he did.

It’s pretty funny, obviously playing the Pastor Dan character for laughs and Brosnan seems to go all in on the portrayal, which is good. I’m kind of liking the vibe this trailer gives off, which is tongue-in-cheek to an extreme, but am unsure how that’s going to play for the entire feature length.

Online

Coming from IFC Films means the official website for the movie isn’t all that robust. Just the poster, a Photo Gallery, the Trailer and some Clips along with a cast list and plot descriptions.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing that I’ve been exposed to.

Media and Publicity

The movie debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival as one of a handful that looked at different forms of faith (Los Angeles Times, 1/27/11), a debut that was good enough to warrant a speedy pickup for distribution by IFC Films and Sony (Hollywood Reporter, 1/27/11).

That’s about it, though.

Overall

Certainly nothing big and the expectations can’t be very great but it’s not bad. There’s nothing here that comes off as super inventive and it’s not going to light the world on fire but it might connect with an on-demand audience who’s looking to check out an irreverent take on the televangelist concept.

Movie Marketing Madness: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

There’s always risk when you launch something new. There’s the oft-cited statistic that X number of all new restaurants that open are closed within a year and similar figures can likely be found for any category of business or other venture. While you can say the same about movies – that this or that percentage are going to bomb each month/year – there are even bigger risks involved when you’re discussing the launch of a potential franchise. Especially one that’s already proved to be popular in another medium.

Such was the case 10 years ago when Warner Bros. launched the first Harry Potter movie based on the first entry in the popular book series. If it had bombed – and we can look to adaptations of books like The Golden Compass and others – then it would have been more than just the failure of one movie; It would have meant the studio didn’t have the weight to make movies based on any of the subsequent books and a major franchise would have been, for all intents and purposes, stillborn. It would have been years before it could have tried again with a different approach.

But it didn’t bomb and in fact went on over the next decade to be one of the studio’s most successful franchises.

Now, though, we’ve come to the end of the line. While each of the first six books from author J.K. Rowling has been the subject of a single movie the last novel was split into two films, a decision likely made for equal parts artistic (it’s a big story and too much would be cut in a single two-hour feature) and monetary (two tickets is twice as much as just one), and now we’ve come to the release of the second part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The quests and missions begun in the first part of the story are now nearing their completion as Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and all their friends and family come ever closer to the final confrontation with the evil Lord Voldemort and his armies of darkness. That will culminate in final battles both grand as masses of wizards battle for each side and personal as Harry confronts once and for all the monster who killed his parents and wants him dead now as well.

The Posters

The first poster for this half of the larger movie showed the main point of the movie, which is the final duel between Harry and Voldemort. So the two of them are shown in the extreme close-up staring each other down, both clutching a single wand between them and both of their faces marred and dirty from the fighting that’s already taken place. The copy at the bottom promises that “It all ends 7.15.”

The next teaser used a similar approach as that of the first movie, showing a close-up of Harry looking just slightly off-camera, his face dirty and bloody as sparks and such flew around in back of him. Similar posters were created for Hermione, Ron, Neville, Snape, Draco Malfoy, Bellatrix and Voldemort.

 

An even bigger batch followed that of action shots of the above characters with the addition of McGongagall, Griphook and Fred and George Weasley.

A huge banner was released that showed the Gringotts-guarding dragon that the characters encounter and which plays a rather large role in the story. While this is interesting it’s also slightly odd that such a specific plot element would be portrayed in the marketing like this when everything else is more focused on the characters and the final, bloody confrontation.

Another banner would get more on-point, with the good guys on one side and the bad guys on the other and streams of magic meeting in the middle and creating a huge flare.

The assembling of armies on both sides would be a theme that continued in the next set of two posters that were released, with one showing Harry at the front of his group of classmates, teachers and friends and another with Voldemort running point on his band of miscreants and minions. Both of these continued the “It all ends” copy theme and be similarly grimy and blood-soaked, as if we’re seeing but a pause in the middle of a larger battle.

Yet another series of one-sheets showed Harry, Ron, Hermione and Voldemort standing more or less still but still with the fire and dirt swirling around them.

The Trailers

The first trailer for this installment starts out mysteriously, with all sorts of odd images being shown before Voldemort starts taking the scene and things get serious. Explosions at Hogwarts, people being thrown around by magic and more. There are shots of armies marching and snakes crawling and people looking very, very emotional over what’s going on. The last 45 seconds or so kicks it into overdrive, with one battle sequence after another being shown as people run and scream. With all this going on the focus does occasionally come back to the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort before prompting the audience to go finish the sage in 3D.

The second and final trailer, which came just a few weeks before release and followed a ton of TV advertising, is the most violent and epic of them all for either half of this final installment. It starts out by retracing Harry’s life and pointing out that everything he’s done has been in preparation for this final moment, which he must now face with his friends and teachers. There’s not much story laid out here but there doesn’t need to be. This campaign, and this trailer in particular, is all about selling the massive scale of the final battle between the light and the dark and the relationships that go into each side, even if it all does ultimately come down to Harry and Voldemort facing off against each other with wands at the ready.

Online

The official website opens with the final theatrical trailer, which you can skip if the player makes your entire computer freeze up and crash.

In “About the Movie,” the first content section in the main navigation menu, you’ll find the usual assortment of information like the Synopsis, Cast and Filmmaker biographies and downloadable Production Notes.

“Video” has just the Teaser and Theatrical trailers, a small selection that’s surprising considering the number of TV spots, featurettes and retrospectives that were produced for this final film installment. There are 14 stills in the “Photos” sections and “Downloads” has Wallpapers, Buddy Icons, Posters and a Screensaver.

You can listen to portions of the score in the “Soundtracks” section and find a list of sites doing giveaways in “Sweepstakes.”

Things start to get a little more interactive with the “Parseltongue Translator,” where you can enter a message to hear spoken in snake-speak. The “Muggle Hub” is just a sub-site that has many of the same features and media as the main site. “The Quest” is a game where you can answer questions and win points to redeem for prizes and recognition among your peers.

“Shop” and “The Videogame” are just interested in selling you things while “Spells App” takes you to information on the iPhone app you can use to trade spells with other users and “Part One” takes you to information on the first part of the final movie.

Lots of stuff from the official website is ported over to the Facebook page, which also then adds more media (including a full collection of TV commercials and other video that was missing from the main page) to the mix along with the usual stream of updates about the movie, the cast and general fan exclamations about how excited they are.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV commercials began running in mid-May that, like the first trailers, made it clear this is the final confrontation between the two rivals. It’s the same voiceover of Voldemort taunting Harry over the death of his friends while he has remained safe but it’s pretty good, even in 30 second form. Some started off much more gently than others, with the drama slowly building and others took viewers right into the action but almost all of them ended with the promise of a huge battle involving all the characters we’ve seen to date but which ends with Harry and Voldemort going toe-to-toe.

A huge in-theater standee was created that mimicked one of the banners mentioned above, with the forces on each side of the battle shown as the two primary characters faced off in the forefront.

Media and Publicity

One of the first shots from the publicity effort for the movie was the announcement that a sneak peak from the film would air during an ABC Family marathon of the earlier entries in the franchise.

The movie also got some promotion at 2011 WonderCon (Hollywood Reporter, 3/31/11) where several minutes of footage was screened for the crowd of both exhibition executives and trade press.

There was also the continued travels of “Harry Potter: The Exhibition,” an exhibit that’s been touring museums across the country for a couple years (New York Times, 4/5/11) now showing off some props from the movies and other wizarding memorabilia.

The film was one of many to get some promotional time at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards, where Watson appeared and debuted a new clip (Los Angeles Times, 6/6/11) but where it failed to pick up any awards.

There was a lot of retrospective press going around, a trend that was epitomized by a story in Entertainment Weekly (6/30/11) that looked back at the histories of each of the actors, the production designers and some of the other talent involved in the film as they reminisced on their involvement with the franchise and how things have evolved over the 10 years since the first movie hit theaters.

Overall

I’m trying to figure out if there’s any one consistent theme that the campaign was hung on…I’m just not sure if there’s one phrase that was used over and over again on all the posters and in all the trailers to let the audience know that this was a big event or the end of the film series.

Oh wait…that’s almost all the campaign was; a constant repetition of the fact that this is where “It all ends.”

Aside from that this is a decent campaign that stands in stark contrast to the marketing for the previous movies, which contained bits of story that moved us toward the conclusion but which were also more adventurous and whimsical in nature. As with any finale the marketing here has to be bittersweet in part because this is the audience – and the studio – saying goodbye to these characters and this world for the foreseeable future.

Movie Marketing Madness: Winnie the Pooh

There’s so much noise in the world these days that it can be difficult to convince your brain, which is now wired to always be looking for the latest status update from friends or whatever, that it’s alright to sit in the backyard and enjoy a summer afternoon’s breeze without any technological or other distractions. We don’t always need to be doing something, we can just enjoy the simple things in life and give our over-addled minds a break every now and again.

Cinematically we suffer from much the same problem. We are so used to something – multiple things – always happening on screen that whenever there isn’t a cacophony of action assaulting our senses we almost begin to become uncomfortable. But just as in real life it can be good to to take a timeout and enjoy something that doesn’t move at 97 miles per hour just so our senses have a chance to actually take in what we’re viewing.

Filling that need this week is Winnie the Pooh. The first big-screen outings for this cuddly character and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood in decades (apparently we’re not counting things like The Tigger Movie), it also seems to be the first time in a while that the focus is squarely on the title character and not spread out quite as much to his supporting characters. The story is, appropriately, simple: What starts out as a simple search for more honey Pooh Bear and friends wind up believing they need to rescue Christopher Robin.

The Posters

The first – and it turns out only – poster was simple and wonderful, showing the whole 100 Acre Woods crew afloat on a sea of honey like the explorers they are. It immediately tells the audience that this is a return to the simple, classy and charming roots of the characters.

The Trailers

The first trailer is every bit as charming and gentle as you would expect it to be. It’s just an introduction to the characters and an alert that there’s a new movie coming out. So we get brief glimpses of all the characters in very familiar situations. Pooh wants some honey, Eeyore mopes around, Tigger is overly energetic and Owl tries to issue plans. All of that is wrapped in and presented as coming from the same kind of storybook as the original film, with pictures being presented as if on pages and Piglet bumping into words on the page. It’s all great, even if it doesn’t get into the story but instead rests on the strength of promising the return of some old friends.

Online

After you get past the trailer that plays when the official website loads there’s a lot of good stuff. Some material is presented in a nice flip-book kind of feature in the middle of the page but we’ll focus on the main navigation schemes.

That starts with the menu off to the left where the first section is “Movie.” That houses much of what you’d regularly expect on movie sites, with sub-sections devoted to the Trailer, the Music of the movie, a Story synopsis, a gallery of Photo stills, the Posters that were created and Cast biographies.

“Characters” is next and lets you learn more about the personalities that are in the story in case you’re not already familiar with them. Each character section also has games, activities and more that are related to that character. “Fun Facts” gives you a map of the Hundred Acre Wood that you can click various parts of to learn more about the characters and the world they inhabit.

There are lots of things to play in the “Games” section. “Videos” has the Trailer, some Featurettes and character profiles and “Printables” has activities you can download and print out.

A handful of the site’s features are replicated below in big graphics that will attract young eyes.

The movie’s Facebook page opens with the Personality Quiz that was on the main site and also has photos, a bit of video and other updates, including a regular countdown to the film’s release. There were also Facebook pages setup for Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore and the other characters from the movie.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

A good amount of TV advertising was done that played up the adventure of the story as well as the gentle humor and good natured antics of the characters. A couple of spots were created and released that started off like they were commercials for Harry Potter, with dark clouds and warnings about final battles before giving way to the nice, gentle footage from this movie. This is similar to what Disney has been doing for The Muppets, which hits theaters later this year, but doesn’t work quite as well because it doesn’t commit fully to the joke.

Media and Publicity

The movie got some industry promotion when footage was shown at CinemaCon 2011 (Hollywood Reporter, 3/29/11) to exhibitors as part of Disney’s larger presentation at that event.

Other than that much of the conversations have come about as a result of the release of marketing material, including clips and so on.

Overall

There’s a lot to like here in how Disney has, with one particular exception, decided to sell the movie based on what it appears to be, which is a brief chance to enjoy something that allows you to catch your breath in a summer of sensory bombardment. The poster and trailer are both simple efforts that play up the gentle nature of the story and that’s carried over into the website, which is certainly friendly for the under four-foot tall crowd.

The one exception are the TV spots that include the Harry Potter-esque openings. I get that they’re done with tongue in cheek and that they’re actually meant to acknowledge the fact that this movie is going up against that 800 pound gorilla (the audiences probably overlap more than I’m comfortable pondering) but they just don’t work in the context of the rest of the campaign. Unlike The Muppets, Winnie the Pooh has never been meta or otherwise referential of the outside world and so to introduce that just comes off as dissonant with the rest of the campaign, which is very nice.

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.

Movie Marketing Madness: Zookeeper

We’ve all sat there at some point and seen if we can pinpoint the exact moment the light in the refrigerator goes off as we close the door. We want to know for ourselves that the light does indeed go off and that the information we’ve been fed over the years is true and isn’t just another batch of lies and misinformation along the lines of how you can’t get a suntan on a cloudy day or who our real father is MOM!!!

The new Kevin James comedy Zookeeper is similarly about what happens after the lights go out. James plays a keeper at a zoo who has a great connection with the animals under his care. In fact he’s so in tune with them that he doesn’t want to go anywhere else, something that leads his girlfriend to reject his proposal of marriage and him as a whole. Fast-forward a while and he is, ultimately, considering leaving the zoo. The animals, though, don’t want to see him go and so reveal to him that they speak English and then work to help him become more adept in the ways of love so he can be happy *and* continue working at the zoo.

The Posters

The first official poster almost completely sets the movie up as being Night at the Museum but set in a zoo. We get James’ character standing outside the gates of the zoo as the animals poke their heads around those gates in back of him. That’s all there is, just his name and the image. Your interest in this will entirely depend on whether you found NatM or Paul Blart funny.

The Trailers

The first teaser trailer almost completely sets the movie up as being Night at the Museum but set in a zoo. We get that James’ character is a bit surprised to find the animals there talking like human beings and he gets to run around and fall down a bit but that’s it. Your interest in this will entirely depend on whether you found NatM or Paul Blart funny.

The first full length trailer starts off with Keyes going through an elaborate proposal scheme, only to have his girlfriend turn him down because he’s a zookeeper. Years later he’s given a second chance – and an opportunity to get a different job – and so decides to leave the zoo. But the animals don’t want him to leave and so reveal they can talk and try to teach him how to get a woman.

The movie is basically an excuse to give James lots of opportunities to run into things, create a mess of things and otherwise act like a bull in a china shop, all situations he throws himself into with his usual vigor. It’s not great – it’s not even good – but it’s going to appeal to vast swaths of the moviegoing public so what are you going to do?

Online

When the official website loads there’s a series of prompts off to the right that entices the visitor to take any of a number of actions. You can view the trailer, download the iPhone app that teaches you how to be a zookeeper or “Unleash the Zoo Buddies,” a tool that puts some of the animals from the zoo on any website you enter and lets the wreak havoc there.

After you Enter the Site you’ll be presented with a map of the zoo. When you hover over the different animals on the map a video clip pops up featuring that animal or another scene and then you can click through to view more. Each animal-centric section also has content about the movie.

“About” has a brief synopsis of the film’s plot and “Cast” has just a list of the actors in the movie but without any information or career backgrounds or anything like that so we’re in “minimal effort” territory here. “Videos” appears to just have the two trailers.

In “Games” there are two (one, really, since the other is still labeled as Coming Soon) casual games to play. There are a scant five stills in the “Photos” section and “Downloads” has Wallpapers, AIM Icons and Twitter Skins related to the movie.

There are some interactive features, including a few ported over from the official site, at the beginning of the Facebook page along with photos, a lot of video and updates on the promotional push for the film. Similar updates can be found on the official movie Twitter feed. There was also a Twitter profile for Bernie the Gorilla that, oddly, was a Verified Account, meaning it received an official Twitter stamp of approval.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There have been multiple TV ads running for the movie that play up the broad physical comedy James is so well known for, meaning the commercials are heavy on him running into things and falling down. They also are pretty clear in portraying that there’s a big talking gorilla in the movie. So if nothing else you can’t say the advertising didn’t sell the movie accurately.

Media and Publicity

Nothing big that I’ve seen. Some talk about the various marketing materials and such but no big industry-level pieces designed to really get the word out about the movie. The studio must be banking on the idea that people are just going to naturally come to see it in the same way the general public flocked to see Paul Blart.

Overall

There’s obviously, based on my multiple references, not much effort here to differentiate this from either Blart of Night at the Museum movies since it was decided, by all appearances, that doing so would actually detract from people’s interest in the movie. So instead the audience is sold the most generic of movies featuring jokes that we’ve seen in dozens of other movies and featuring James taking a hit to the head we have in countless other scenarios. So it’s all about selling the tried and true here under the hope, apparently, that people are going to be so desperate for something to just check their brains and laugh at while not having their senses inundated or minds overwhelmed that they’ll come steadily to the box-office.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

  • 07/07/11: An image of the movie’s title was digitally added to reruns of “How I Met Your Mother,” something that got a lot of people talking.