Movie Marketing Madness: Doubt

There’s little not to love about period dramas from either a studio or talent point of view. They’re pretty easy to market (just show a bunch of old cars and other similar items) and they’re instantly attractive to talent because they have a high tendency to result in award nominations.

That’s why, when combined with the subject matter, Doubt had to be a very attractive option for all involved.

Doubt takes place 1954 at a Catholic school lorded over by a strict no-nonsense nun. The kind that would not look kindly upon either German Bible scholars questioning the primacy of the Pope or Jake and Elwood stealing money, even if it was to pay for back-taxes for the orphanage. Tensions within the school begin to come to a boil when one of the younger nuns begins to suspect that the priest of the school might be abusing one of the boys.

So as you can see it’s weighty topics to cover. The movie is based on a play that debuted a few years ago and is certainly more about what’s been going on now in the Catholic church as opposed to actually being about what might have happened then.

The Posters

The first teaser poster debuted on Cinematical and it’s quite a striking image. The cross that is also a church, with the stained glass windows up at the top, is one that does two things equally well: First, it creates an instant conversation piece since any re-use of the cross is sure to generate some sort of discussion. Second, it shows the movie is all serious and is all about going for the idea that it’s an Oscar-level flick. After all, with that cast and that kind of radical imagery it must be good, right?

Surprisingly that was the only poster there was. Perhaps it’s the notion that putting the stars of the movie on the one-sheet would distract from the content that fueled this decision but I still find it an odd call for them to make. Hoffman, Streep and Adams are now pretty well known among the general populace and so I would have expected them to appear in some regard here. Still, I admire on some level that they decided not to go for the BFH approach.

The Trailers

The trailer starts off with its immediate goal being to establish Streep’s character and her place within the Catholic school. Right off the bat she’s shown to be the harsh disciplinarian at the school, determined to stick to the old ways of doing things and displeased with the very idea of being asked to change.

After that bit of introduction we then meet Hoffman’s priest character and the conflict of the story takes off. Adams’ nun brings her concerns over private meetings Hoffman’s priest has been having with one of the boys to Streep, who then becomes set in her “certainty” that there must be something untoward going on. The two then go head to head and, really, provide the main selling point of the movie, which is the acting squaring off between these two high-quality actors. If that doesn’t convince people to go see this then nothing will and the studio was right to just present it as is and hope people bite.

Online

The movie’s official website at first gives you the option to Enter the Site or to View the Trailer. Considering we just watched the trailer let’s dive into the site and see what we can find.

The “About the Film” section appears right off the bat without any prompting by the visitor. There you’ll see a Synopsis that explains what the film is about and and who appears in it. There are also some Press Notes that you can download and read for yourself.

“Cast” and “Filmmakers” highlight the key players both in front of and behind the camera. Nothing revolutionary here but the entries are pretty well written. Especially in the “Cast” section there seems to be an emphasis on making clear each actor’s Serious Acting Street Cred is established, which isn’t all that hard with this bunch.

Unfortunately “Gallery” is still labeled as Coming Soon, though I’m guessing that would have been stocked with photos had it been completed in time.

Finally, after “View Trailer,” there’s “Acclaim” that brings in some of the key quotes from the rave reviews the film has gotten from various media outlets. Each outlet is named but unfortunately there’s no link so we can’t go read the full review.

The movie was also given some level of presence on Facebook through Miramax’s main Fan Page. There’s not much content from the film there – just a poster and a trailer – but it’s something. Some clips from the film were included on Miramax’s YouTube page as well.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Not much of either, unfortunately. I encountered some online ads around the interwebz but there were no cross-promotions to speak of. Not that surprising, of course, since it’s set in 1954 and involves charges of child abuse. Not really something a lot of brands would race to be associated with.

There’s actually been more advertising done of the “For Your Consideration” variety than anything else that I’ve seen, with all the major players getting promoted for award consideration by the studio. Proof that these sorts of movies are more attractive for their awards potential than for actual box-office returns. Or at least the studio is more interested in spending money to get that award than they are to drive box-office traffic.

Media and Publicity

There was plenty of press involving the movie’s stars and how it was one of a barrage of late-year entries to the box-office that had Oscar or other award potential. It also gained notice when it was announced it would take the place of The Soloist as the lead-off movie at the American Film Festival after that film was pulled and pushed to the 2009 schedule.

Overall

It’s a good campaign but, as is often the case with smaller-scale releases, it’s a bit skimpy. The materials that were created are all of the highest quality but there’s just too little of it. I like the trailer and I like the poster. The site is predictably not very well stocked and, aside from the FYC campaign, the ads weren’t very prevelant.

But Miramax has obviously done what it felt it needed to do to bring X number of people in to theaters. i just wish it had been a bit more.

PICKING UP THE SPARE

  • 12/19/08: Joe Leydon is confused by the appearance of a TV spot for the movie that presents it as a funny holiday caper. I haven’t seen that exactly but yeah, that’s got to be kind of weird.
  • 1/12/09: The marketing for this movie continues to trickle out, with Miramax releasing a new poster that’s heavy on the faces of the leading cast – something completely missing in the pre-release campaign – and including the Golden Globes nominations the film has garnered. I wonder if they’ll be a new campaign component for each set of awards nominations.
  • 1/12/09: Miramax appears to have set itself up for some criticism by using a mash-up of two critic’s quotes in its “For Your Consideration” ads for the movie. That might be even worse than making up quotes from wholecloth. When are marketers going to learn that using the google people can fact-check just about anything and that writers, aside from those instances when they’ve unwisely gotten hammered and fired up WordPress actually remember what they’ve written? Not good. The studio eventually pulled the ad and replaced it with a version that included real, attributed quotes.
  • 3/9/09: The marketing campaign for the movie has helped boost the box-office sales of the Canadian presentation of the original stage play.

Maddux hits the showers

Greg Maddux, one of the all time best pitchers in major leagues, announced his retirement. In true Maddux style the announcement was an example of how to do something: low-key, without a lot of self-agrandization and with an emphasis on how much he’s enjoyed being able to play ball for a living for so long.

As everyone has been saying, Maddux never overpowered hitters. He just out-pitched the other team far more many times than he wasn’t. Put the ball where the bat ain’t. It’s not hard but Maddux did it better than just about anyone else.

Customer Relations 2.0

You don’t need to go too deep into the social media marketing world nowadays before someone will bring up @comcastcares. While certainly not the only example now of a company that’s doing customer service via Twitter, Comcast was one of the first to put a representative out there who was empowered to actually make things happen. There are many, many case studies out there alredy about how people have sent direct messages or replies to that user and gotten immediate or at least drastically speedier resolution to their Comcast problems than they would have had they gone through the usual phone call or email routes.

It certainly is a revolutionary way to do things. This is an authorized company representative that’s out in the community responding to questions, following up on issues and otherwise interacting with customers. To do something like this in the offline world Comcast – or any of other companies like Zappos or Dell or a handful of others using this tactic – would have to put a similarly-empowered representative in local neighborhoods at approximately (based on the number of followers @comcastcares has) one for every 5,000 customers. So in my hometown of Elmhurst, IL there would have to be about eight Comcast employees living amongst the populace, any of whom could knock on their door and expect results at all hours of the day.

And it’s that sort of scalability issue that make this model of customer service almost impossible to bring to the masses. But that’s very much not the point.

Many of the followers of comcastcares and the other companies on Twitter are social media marketing practitioners who are following them for the case study potential. They’re watching how those companies are managing their interactions and other communications for best practice adherence and such. So while they might also be customers of Comcast, that’s a secondary notion to making sure that the company is doing Twitter “well.”

While some hold up examples like these as the future of customer service that’s not really reasonable. I don’t know how many customers Comcast has for its myriad of services, but at about 5,000 per representative you can see it would take a lot more man-power than is truly feasible to expand this model into the non-online-influencer world.

But that’s not the point. Comcastcares and other Twitter-based customer service models are very much about managing the online reputation of the company. If they can make sure these influencers are happy with the product along with other first-adopters and get some good case studies and word-of-mouth generated through this effort then that will influence their search results when the non-influencer hits Google to see what people are saying about the company.

That’s not a bad thing. In fact any step forward in the realm of customer service is a good thing. But I think that some people need to settle down with prognosticating about how this model is going to change things need to see it for what it is and acknowledge the shortcomings before putting all their eggs in this basket.

Google Friend Connect now live on MMM

One more housekeeping post this Monday morning: I’ve added Google Friend Connect to the right sidebar here on MMM. That means you can become a friend of MMM in a very loose way via your Google or other OpenSocial-supported account. You can read all about the release here and check out the video below for a simple explaination of how this works.

Blogger’s future

Despite the fact that I more or less abandoned Blogger as a publishing platform a couple years ago I still remain a fan of the tool and, more specifically, am thrilled with how it truly revolutionized self-publishing online. Before WordPress.com became open for anyone to use Blogger was the go-to tool if you wanted to start writing online for free. I still use it as an example of where to go if you just want to start goofing around and doing some trial and error experiments.

It’s because I still like Blogger and respect it’s place in the history of online publishing that I wanted to point to Evan Williams, Blogger founder and later the founder of Twitter, and his advice for where Blogger should go from here.

Live Universe Watch: Day 3

It’s now been three (working) days since I originally posted on my troubles getting payment or communication from Peerflix or Live Universe, the company that bought it. Still no payment for five months worth of running ads. Still no communication on when said payment will be forthcoming. I plan on posting on this until I get both.

Easy gift giving

I got one of these cards from Netflix the other day and thought it was kind of awesome.

The idea is that they sent me a card with a coupon enclosed as well as an envelope that I could use to send someone a gift subscription to Netflix with. It makes the forwarding very easy and enables the current subscriber to easilty pass along their enjoyment of the service to others. Great idea.