X-Men: Days of Future Past isn’t scheduled for release until 2014 but the marketing activity has already begun with a series of anti-mutant posters and a fake ad for Trask Industries. But how effective are these campaigns?
It seems as though no release of a superhero or sci-fi themed film is complete these days without a huge marketing effort filling in the backstories of the key characters and organisations involved. For 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, LA-based agency Ignition Creative has built a detailed website for Trask Industries, the company supposedly responsible for building the Sentinels, a robot army bent on destroying all mutants.
The site presents Trask Industries as “the world’s leading full-spectrum genetic security and containment company, Trask Industries continues to uncover new ways to control the mounting X-gene threat. We are proud to bring decades of experience, along with 118,000 innovative minds as we continue to secure human freedoms in every nation on Earth. Our goal is to solve tomorrow’s problems, today.”
In the site’s ‘media’ section, two downloadable posters address the mutant ‘threat’ (see top and below).
In addition, Ignition and production company Logan have created a fake Trask Industries commercial
In a feature in our June 2012 issue, film writer Adam Lee Davies traced such complex, multifaceted movie launch campaigns back to 42 Entertainment’s work for Dark Knight Rises in 2008 (with a nod to 1999’s Blair Witch Project).
A particular early favourite here at CR was the email campaing supporting the 2000 fim of American Psycho whereby you could sign up to receive missives from Patrick Bateman on topics such as the marketing genius of Prada and the advantages of using a prvate airport as well as cc’d emails to his therapist. (Read the full list of emails here)
This one reads “I have long ago given up worrying about man’s ability to devise new ways in which to spend a disproportionately huge amount of money in order to show his fellow man that he has amassed huge piles of it. Forget cocaine. It’s place in the luxury goods market has been usurped triumphantly by Prada. I applaud the brilliance of those minds behind this phenomenon. Where else can merchandise made primarily of nylon and leather be fought over by patrons wearing Diamonds and Sable? Prada. More than a brand; A mantra. A greeting. “Prada?” Soon to be right up there with Shalom, Ciao, and Aloha.
Since then, we have seen increasingly elaborate campaigns for films such as District 9, Watchmen and, most notable of all perhaps, Prometheus, which included this fake TED Talk by character Peter Weyland.
But, as Lee Davies notes, impressive as these campaigns are, they may just be preaching to the converted. Marc Berry Reid, regional director of digital communications agency Way To Blue, concurs in the piece. “The big question for me is how can viral campaigns break out of just appealing to the core audience. They are typically adopted by the ‘fan boy’ audience who, it could be argued, are going to see the film anyway. Avengers Assemble is a good example of a movie that, even though it screamed for one, had no elaborate viral campaign. Did the lack of one impact the movie? The box office so far doesn’t seem to suggest so.”
Robert Marich, contributor to Variety and author of the book Marketing to Moviegoers has harder evidence. “It’s absolutely shown by interviewing American moviegoers that the most impactful marketing is the in-theatre screening of trailers and TV commercials. Online comes after. That’s unlikely to change for the foreseeable future.”
The immaculate, award winning campaign for Tron: Legacy failed to put bums on seats, while James Cameron’s Avatar had no viral campaign to speak of.
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