“As it stands, I have no ‘…and then she unzipped her jumper’ stories.”
It’s a throw-away line in Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy but the general idea, that there are experiences in life that we’ve missed out on having because of some circumstance or another, is applicable to so many things that we can all individually point to as missing from our past.
In my case one thing that was missing, at least in my teenage years when it would have really mattered, was the regional amusement park.
My parent’s generation of Chicago area residents had the fabled Riverview, memorialized in countless books and other histories. When I was a kid there was Dispensa’s Kiddie Kingdom in Oakbrook Terrace, the amusement park addition to a castle-shaped toy store. But that closed when I was about 10. Further away in Melrose Park was Kiddieland , but as you’d guess from the name that was geared very much to kids and no self-respecting 16 year old would be caught there. Six Flags Great America, up in Gurnee, was an option but it was prohibitively expensive for more than the occasional visit. So there wasn’t anywhere to hang out and play carnival games and get in trouble with your friends.
I take this trip down Nostalgia Lane because that sort of small, independent amusement park is the setting of Adventureland. The movie, set in the mid-1980’s, follows young James as he settles into the unfortunate reality of working there one summer after finding out his planned trip to backpack across Europe has been canceled because his parents can no longer afford it. But what he thought was going to be month after month of suckage winds up not being so bad when he discovers the insane and misanthropic other employees, as well as the uber-hot Emily who works the park’s arcade.
The first poster did a great job of achieving multiple marketing goals in what is really quite a simple image. First off, the whole thing looks like it’s been printed on the front of a t-shirt, something that gives it a very 80’s feel right off the bat, especially with the different-colored collar, a look that is recognizable not only to those of us who lived through that era and had a ton of such shirts but also to everyone who now sports retro shirts just like this.
Within the main image the cast is arrayed in order of importance, giving us a look at some of the wacky characters that populate the film. They’re set in front of a Ferris Wheel, letting us know it’s set at a theme park and the copy at the top lets us know we’re in for a coming of age type-story that is sure to be filled with teenage hijinks. There’s also a tease under the title treatment that the movie comes from director Greg Mottola or, as he’s referred to here, “The director of Superbad,” a point that’s included to make this appealing to fans of that film.
Finally, this one-sheet provides at the bottom what is perhaps one of the strongest calls-to-action to visit a movie’s official website I’ve ever seen. The site is promoted through the incentive for visitors to “Play games and win prizes” there. While many movie posters include the URL of the official site very, very few – almost none – actually give the viewer any real reason to do so. Props to the marketing team for this movie for doing more than simply checking off the list of things to include and actually trying to add some sort of value. Nicely done.
The second poster was similar in idea but executed a little differently. The t-shirt screen-printing idea is discarded in favor of a simple shot of the main cast walking toward the camera, again with a silhouette of the Ferris Wheel behind them. The “From the Director of Superbad” copy is given more prominence at the top of the one-sheet, making me think that tested well as a reason for people to be interested in this movie. While the official website URL is again listed at the bottom of the poster, there’s no call to action for that this time. Instead audiences are told they can become a fan of the movie by visiting Miramax’s Facebook page. This one doesn’t seem quite as strong as the first, but it’s not by any considerable gap.
The movie’s first trailer debuted on MySpace with an introduction from director Mottola. It starts off with a setup that establishes why James needs to get a summer job and how, after a series of rejections elsewhere, he winds up manning a booth at Adventureland. His dissatisfaction with that situation quickly leads, though, to him not having nearly as much a problem with it after he meets the hot girl he works with as well as the cool older guy who hands out beer, played here by Ryan Reynolds.
Most of the trailer’s running time is devoted to the budding romance between James and Em (played by Kristen Stewart) and the sometimes awkward situations that he gets into. There’s also a healthy amount of comedy that’s provided by the supporting cast and their quirkiness. It’s immediately attractive to fans of comedies that explore the idea of coming into one’s own in the teenage years and presents a movie that looks to be a good blend of heartwarming and outright funny.
Adventureland trailer in HD
There was also a red-band version of the trailer that’s still pretty funny, largely because of the title cards that are interspersed within it. It starts off with the declaration that we’re about to see a red-band trailer for the movie Adventureland and that means it can show you the “naughty bits” which I enjoyed because I see it as a sly Monty Python reference, even if it wasn’t meant as that. It then states, unfortunately, that there’s no profanity (followed by a montage of swear words from everyone), no drinking or drug use (followed by clips of everyone drinking and doing drugs) and absolutely no sex (followed by shots showing there’s plenty of sex and partial nudity throughout the film). It then, almost as an after-thought, reminds us that the movie opens in theaters soon, though it contains an opening date that was subsequently changed.
The movie’s official website opens with the same artwork that graces the second poster. There are links on the front page to view both the regular and red-band trailers, as well as a list of advance screening dates and the chance to win a retro arcade game via a contest on Break.com. Below that are links to the official Miramax profiles on social networks Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and even Flickr. We’ll come back to those in a moment.
Entering the site you get to play a little duck-shoot while Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream it’s Over” and other 80’s music from the film’s soundtrack plays.
At the bottom of the screen you’ll see small pictures of the major cast members. Shooting them essentially launches their “theme” on the site, giving you a bigger picture of them along with a sort of statement of philosophy from them that gives you a little insight into their character.
Below those is “About the Film,” which brings up a map of the theme park. Clicking on the people pictured on the map gives you a brief biography of that actor or director Mottola. If you click the Adventureland logo you get a synopsis of the movie’s plot. There’s also a “Legend” in the bottom-right corner that includes information on more of the behind-the-scenes filmmakers, including producer Ted Hope, who writes the Truly Free Film blog.
Next to “About” is “Trailers” and then “Play the Games,” which launches a separate site filled with carnival-type games you can play and finally “Soundtrack” with information about the songs on the movie’s playlist.
Toward the top of the page there’s also a section of “Photos” with just five stills in it, “Video” which just has the trailer and “Prizes,” which is the section for downloads that contains a Wallpaper, one Buddy Icon and a Screensaver, all of which use the same picture of Stewart.
The movie has, as I mentioned, a sizable social media presence online. The Flickr page has plenty of pics both in the form of stills from the movie and from events like it’s Sundance screening and official premiere. The Twitter stream is actually quite good, not only containing marketing updates but also conversations with others its following there, which is good to see. The Facebook and MySpace profiles have pictures, posters, trailers and more. Like Twitter, the Facebook profile is quite good, with constant updates and conversation with the people there.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
I haven’t really come across that much advertising for the movie within any medium, nor have I seen any news about cross-promotions. It’s not a movie that lends itself to a bunch of tie-ins or anything so I’m not that surprised, though I would have expected to see more TV or online advertising done. I seem to remember seeing a few online ads but that’s about it.
Media and Publicity
There’s been a fair amount of media devoted to Adventureland, largely due to it being Mottola’s follow-up film after Superbad. But that’s about it. Unfortunately it’s being eclipsed by the big tent-pole movies coming out in a month or so (Wolverine, Star Trek) that are making such a big footprint in the media space. It’s gotten buzz around showings at Sundance and SXSW but outside of that there hasn’t been much.
Quite possibly one of my favorite campaigns of the year so far, the marketing of Adventureland has a little bit of everything and winds up coming off as very appealing. The trailers are funny and portray a very genuine and entertaining movie. The posters are interesting and certainly set the scene for the movie’s plot and characters. And the online profiles for the movie are great in that they’re not only informative but truly interactive a very Web 2.0 sense of the word. A great effort that, while small in scale, certainly isn’t unsure of who the movie’s target audience is or of how it’s going to try to appeal to them.