Picking up the Spare: Doubt, The Dark Knight

bowling-pinsDoubt

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.

The Dark Knight

Everyone’s talking about this very cool fan-made For Your Consideration campaign for The Dark Knight. Splash Page has the graphics that have been created and The Cycle has a good background on the creator of the campaign as well as what he hopes to accomplish. Let me just say that this is what happens when you give fans ownership of a brand – they get excited about it and want to see it win.

“Borderline genius”

That’s how one of the Spout folks described the “Create a Document” feature you can add on to your Gmail, whether traditional or through Google Apps for Small Businees, account. It adds a button on the right side of the page that lets you turn that email thread into a Google Doc instantly. So if you have a conversation that’s been going on that you want to archive for later use this let’s you easily and effectively do so.

To turn that on for your account just visit your Settings and then click the Labs tab and scroll down to find it.

You can read Read/Write Web’s write-up of that feature here.

Movie Marketing Madness: Yes Man

yes-man-poster-2We all have regrets, right? Things we wish we’d said “yes” to or even things we wish we’d said “no” to. Life moves by and we try to make the best decisions possible but hindsight often shows that each of those decision moments has long-lasting repercussions. Some of us take things to an extreme, never trying anything new or trying everything that flits in front of our eyes in an effort to not miss out any one possibility.

Yes Man, the new Warner Bros. movie starring Jim Carrey, is about a man who starts off on one extreme and then over-compensates by moving to the exact opposite direction. His character declines seemingly every opportunity and invitation that’s presented to him, afraid to move outside his comfort zone at all. Then he attends some sort of motivational seminar that encourages him to say “yes” more and he takes it to said extreme, deciding to take lessons, do things he never dreamed of and in general go crazy.

The premise is, obviously, not all that high-minded. But that’s all right since Yes Man is very much about allowing for a little bit of audience vicarious wish-fulfillment as they enjoy watching Carrey in a variety of ridiculous situations. So let’s look at how the studio is marketing this seemingly tailor-made bit of escapist entertainment to the masses.

The Posters

Just one poster seems to have been produced. That one shows Carrey skipping through a field looking care-free and unencumbered by the weight </bobseger> of anything in the world. It pegs the movie pretty clearly as being in the “Funny” category of Carrey’s filmography.

It also contains nothing about the story, nothing about the character and indeed just about nothing in general. The entire message of the poster is that there is a new Jim Carry movie coming out and that people should be attracted by his exuberant behavior. It requires no thought of any sort and just requires blind obedience to that call.

The Trailers

The first trailer for the movie presented something that was likely designed to most closely resemble a movie everyone would feel comfortable seeing. Even moreso than something like Wild Hogs, this is designed to be a crowd-pleaser.

yes-man-pic-3The first hints of the depths about to be plumbed are dropped as the trailer opens on a series of oh-so-cute babies throwing attitude and saying “no” to everything. That then transitions to Carrey’s character, who is such a stick-in-the-mud he says “no” to any proposition that’s thrown his way. But attending some sort of motivational conference encourages him to say “yes” to every opportunity and more fully explore his life. That’s the basic excuse for then getting Carrey to do a bunch of wacky stuff like bungee jump, fly a plane and, apparently the epitome of reckless behavior, drink Red Bull.

It’s a definite return to more vintage Carrey antics and your acceptance of the trailer is dependent on your tolerance for his mugging, so be warned.

The second trailer was essentially more of the same. We start off this time at the self-help seminar and are introduced to Carrey’s character once again as someone who turns down most invitations life throws at him, though this time we’re shown fewer examples of that happening. But there follows the same assortment of clips and sequences of him acting all sorts of goofy in his efforts to have more fun and embrace life a little more. The love interest played by Daschnel is given just as little time as in the first stop, though this time through different footage.

Online

The official website opens with a bit of animation of Carrey bungee-jumping and things like that before moving into a trailer that I had never seen before. It actually winds up being pretty effective since it more closely follows, it seems, the arc of the movie’s story. It’s not all that different in content from what has come before but it’s arranged a bit differently and works pretty well. Be warned, though: It keeps auto-playing if you don’t click elsewhere after it ends the first time.

The first section available through the top menu is “Story” where you’ll find a brief write-up about the movie’s story and some of the main cast and crew.

There are about 10 stills, most from scenes we saw in the trailers, in “Photos” and the usual assortment of Wallpapers and Buddy Icons as well as the Poster and a Screensaver in “Downloads.”

yes-man-pic-2There are also sections titled “eCards” and “Bobblehead” but both of those are labeled as still coming soon. Just for the record it’s Thursday when I’m writing this, the day before the movie opens. Wow.

And that’s it. No, I’m serious. No Cast & Crew sections. No production notes. No additional video. No links to a Facebook page or anything like that.

My initial instinct when I’m presented with this spectacular lack of content is that the studio just didn’t care. And certainly the fact that 1/3 of the sections aren’t completed the day before it hits theaters would lend credence to that idea.

But instead it occurs to me that the Internet is just not seen as where this movie’s audience is going to be hanging out. So why beef up the web presence if that’s the case? On the one hand that’s a sound business strategy that is actually appropriate to some campaigns. On the other hand it’s a slap in the face to anyone who might be online and trying to find information about the movie. It’s more than a little shocking that a big release from a major studio would get this sloppy an online effort.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

There were a few TV spots that followed the same basic outline as the trailers but that’s about all I saw. To my knowledge there was limited online advertising done.

Media and Publicity

The cast did the media rounds and there were a few stories about the movie, but it’s not exactly being turned into an “event” film in any way shape or form.

Overall

What. The. Heck. What’s the logic here in not supporting a movie starring Jim Carrey, one of the biggest movie stars of the last decade or so, with a more comprehensive campaign? What’s the logic in not doing more to promote it as holiday entertainment? What’s the logic in essentially ignoring the need to create an actual website for the movie that contains more than a smattering of it’s marketing content.

That lack of support creates the impression, rightly or wrongly, that the studio sees this as a pre-Christmas mid-tier release that they’re just trying to ride the wave on. Hopefully, it seems, enough people will have seen the poster while walking through the theater hallways to and from a screening of Four Christmases and that success will logically follow. Doesn’t seem like a solic strategy to me, but that’s what it looks like from the outside.

Embargoes only work if they’re backed by relationships

Unsurprisingly, Jeremy brings his usual mix of rational thought and actual perspective to the TechCrunch embargo story:

As for the start of this recent PR is dead meme, but let’s put a face to it (with Lois) – it started with the embargoes are dead meme, which is just as dumb, if not dumber. The embargo is based on a working relationship, and when a PR person or firm gets burnt by a reporter or site, you stop working with them (giving them the pre-briefs), and shoot them the news at the same time.

And, really, 90 percent of the embargoes for start-ups are worthless. It’s not embargo worthy news, they aren’t public companies. You don’t send off a release under embargo without getting a verbal or written “yes” that they will honor the embargo. That, again, goes to laziness.

In the era of new media, social media or whatever, though, the embargo might be on its last legs. However, for a public company, it does not. You want to pre-brief reporters on upcoming news, but that pesky SEC stuff gets in the way. So, you do under embargo – usually backed up by an attorney.

The problem, it seems, is that some folks have forgotten the math that needs to go into an embargo strategy.

One more quote from Mr. Pepper:

In today’s world, though, public relations is becoming more and more relevant. With the media shrinking, freelancers becoming more and more prevelant, and, well, online media (or new media or social media) become fragmented where you need VERY targeted outreach to reach the right audiences, well, the PR executive and firm is the perfect choice. And, that includes all the social media / networking brouhaha. Who is better off talking to people than public relations? The classic generalist is trained to work with the media, the public and to engage in discussions, not just one-way messaging.