Movie Marketing Madness: Going the Distance

Long-distance relationships are hard. Something about never being able to actually see the person you’re dating and communication being awkward after a while…it all sounds, quite frankly, ghastly. I’ve never been in one myself, but that’s what I hear at least from the few friends who were in some kind of long distance relationship. These rarely worked out because there was always lots and lots of suspicion going around on both sides about what the other person was doing while so far away, most of it well-founded.

Making a long-distance relationship work is the premise of Going the Distance, a new romantic comedy starring Justin Long (he’s a Mac) and Drew Barrymore. The two meet in New York City and begin seeing each other, really enjoying each other’s company and definitely feeling a spark. But then she has to move to San Francisco just six weeks after they begin dating. Determined not to let the miles come between them, though, they decide to keep it going with all the inherent problems such an arrangement creates.

The Posters

The movie’s one poster isn’t all that interesting but it does show more or less exactly what the audience can expect from the film. Long and Barrymore are making goggly eyes at each other as they stand there about to make out against a brick wall. On that wall has been painted a scene combining the two locations they’re going to be living in, SF and NYC as a way to set the audience’s expectations for where the story takes place.

It’s a bright poster that makes it clear that all you can really expect from the movie is a light, funny movie with a couple of actors who rely heavily on charm to see them through. So in that respect, despite whatever design shortcoming there might be, it works.

The Trailers

The first trailer starts off on the first date between the main couple, where he’s charming and funny and she’s just eating it up, something seemingly designed to confirm to the men in the audience that it’s true when women say they’re looking for a guy with a good sense of humor despite the fact that’s totally not true and all of them really just care about…

…I may be veering off course here.

The rest of the trailer shows them deciding to stick it out despite the distance and then encountering all the problems that go with that, including annoying friends, a busy-body sister the pent up frustrations of not having your significant other near to you.

But despite the sometimes serious looks on the character’s faces, the trailer never really loses its upbeat tone. There are still lots of shots of having fun and joking around and the music that plays over all that keeps things on a light note.

A second trailer was released that hit many of the same notes but used different scenes and a different arrangement of the narrative to do so.

We see clips from many of the scenes we did in the first trailer but different excerpts from those scenes. We also get a lot more of the interaction between Garratt (Long) and his friends, something that I’m interpreting to mean the studio is going after guys and trying to sell this as amusing for them as well as mushy for the ladies.

The key component of this trailer is that it really shows off Charlie Day as one of Long’s friends. Based on this he apparently steals every scene he’s in.

Online

The official site opens with a recreation of the poster’s key art and then begins playing the second trailer automatically.

First up in terms of content is the “Synopsis,” which gives visitors a nice overview of the movie’s story, not that there are a lot of twists and turns that were hinted at in the trailers. But it’s decently written and then talks about not only the movie but the credits of the director and more.

“Photos” has about 18 stills from the movie, including a couple of behind the scenes shots. “Video” has both trailers, two TV Spots and a video for the song “If You Run” by Boxer Rebellion, one of the songs on the soundtrack as well as a behind the scenes video from the shooting of that video.

There’s information on the cast and crew as well as some Production Notes under the “Cast and Filmmakers” section, which is surprisingly robust considering some of the efforts I’ve seen on sites of late.

“Downloads” is where you’ll find a handful of Wallpapers and Icons to grab if you so choose. “Soundtrack” has information and samples of the songs on the movie’s soundtrack, obviously. Finally, “Partners/Sweepstakes” has information on companies that have partnered with the movie for promotional purposes as well as links to sites that were giving away prize packs of movie merchandise.

There’s also quite a lot on the site in terms of fun activities.

“DJ Your Hook-Up” lets you select what kind of whoopee you’d like to make and where and then gives you a playlist of songs you can play or then buy.

“Getting to Know You” lets you fill in the answer to a question like the kid you’d be asked on a first date or rate the answers provided by others.

“Date Planner” is actually a Facebook app that lets you create a special date with the person you’re away from.

Lastly, the “Long Distance Relationship Quiz” lets you see if you’re the type of person who could survive such an arrangement.

The movie’s Facebook page is pretty good, with lots updates on where and when the cast would be appearing on their promotional outings as well as photos, videos and the other details that have become standard on these pages.

Advertising and Cross Promotions

The movie certainly didn’t lack for TV advertising, with at least two or three spots running in regular rotation, all of which were variations on the themes of the trailers, showing the couple meeting, deciding not to split just because one of them was leaving and then getting into all sorts of hijinks, including trying to get it on on her sister’s table, a gag the trailers and commercials come back to often.

Listed on the site are a number of companies, raining from Shuttle Computer, which is running a sweepstakes giving away one of their ultra-slim PCs to Skype, which sells itself as being able to connect far-apart people over VOIP and video chat.

Also included here Sprint, Southwest Airline and Arden B., which is running a promoting giving away movie tickets with $75 purchases.

Other than Arden B. and Shuttle there’s no information on specific promotions given on the websites of the companies.

Media and Publicity

The cast, especially Long and Barrymore, have been going gangbusters on the promotional circuit raising awareness of the movie, but there hasn’t really been a wave of publicity about the movie that was designed to cut through the clutter. I would imagine by virtue of its strong advertising campaign and other activities there’s high enough awareness of the movie in the target audience but from what I’ve seen there haven’t been a lot of press stories run.

Overall

A completely pleasant and charming campaign for a movie that I suspect is completely pleasant and charming. Your mileage may vary depending your particular tolerance for the romantic comedy genre in general, the level of your animosity toward Justin Long and other factors. But looking at it from top to bottom it’s not a bad push for a movie that has the potential to pick up the audience that felt disappointed by The Switch a couple weeks ago.

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