lots of commentary

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What is going on in movie advertising? A summary.

As I go back and look through my blog posts for the past couple of months I am noticing a trend in what I have had to say about the industry. Almost every post starts by me explaining how it is getting harder and harder to stand out in a market with so many products. This is fairly obvious in my post entitled “Too many Movies??” on October 13th about the challenges of finding your audience. Technology is becoming cheaper and easier to get a hold of. The Internet is unlimited. And people have a lot to say about a lot of issues. These three things are making movies easier to make and distribute. Because of this, we have a crowded market. And only the people that can use those tools to their advantage gets a good pay-off, not to mention a post about them on Tags Talk.

Check out to find the newest HD cameras for sale. These are great for a family to record their memories in Hi-Def, but that is not all they are being used for. A young filmmaker can go out and buy one of these and instantly improve her or his production quality in order to get noticed. The ad from Sony even says, “Shoot like a network cameraman.”

When I was in Singapore I was asked to be in a short film being produced by my friend’s friends. They needed a white guy to play an American and I fit the profile perfectly. The production company is bad alliteration productions. Check them out at Basically they are three guys that had a sony handycam with the dream of someday making full length feature films. They have the technology. Madhav bought a camera and some editing software. Their sound guy Siddesh has bought all the equipment needed for a mini-recording studio. And their go to man for everything else, Varun, can get the rest. Madhav is a banker by day and by night he reads up on editing and shooting movies using the Internet and the occasional book as sources. Spend a little time on their website and watch some their short films and you’ll see that they definitely have something to say about what is going on in the world today. “Fuel for Jimmy,” is the movie I star in. It is about the west’s need for oil and disregard for human life.

These guys are definitely on the far end of the spectrum. They don’t have a lot of money or time. But there are plenty of indie filmmakers out there that do. And they are doing what they do best, make films that offer a unique perspective on life. The only problem is there are so many on them, I can’t watch them all. I summed it up well in my September 12th post:

“…there is a crap load of indies out and none of them are breaking the clutter ( Even with box offices turning in record highs this summer, the spin-off companies of the major studios that invest in independent movies (you know, the ones with olive branches framed around "first place at blah blah blah" and stuff in the trailers), aren't getting recognized because everyone is doing it now. Hollywood reporter says that Fox Searchlight was one of the first to get into the indies and when people saw they were making money off things like Warner Independents' March of the Penguins everyone wanted a piece of the pie.”

The movie industry is starting to look more and more like the blogosphere. It takes very little money to set up a blog. Heck, use your public library and it's free. There are very few roadblocks, practically none. And the roadblocks for producing a movie are being reduced as well. This means that more and more opinions will be shown in theaters everywhere. And it’s up to the marketing gurus of the world to lift up the best and most provocative.

“Breaking the clutter,” probably the three biggest buzz words in the marketing handbook. But never have they been so true. Production companies are going to need to be creative in order to stand out. I posted about a few creative forms of advertising in the past month. The Nines had a make-a-trailer contest to introduce people to their film and add invested interest in its success. Leonardeo DiCaprio’s The 11th Hour used a cool widget with lots of fun features to spread the world about global warming. And some people like Michael Moore can just walk around and talk about his new movie to get noticed.

That is the issue in movie advertising right now. How do I get noticed? There is no longer an advertising and promotions formula to make your movie successful. You can’t just send out the trailer and go on Lettermen and expect big results. Advertisers need to look at the individual movie and see what the feel of it is, and then match the advertising and promotions to the movie. If it is a hard hitting documentary, you want a hard hitting feel to the advertising so you don’t draw in mockumentary fans that are going to SMS their friends and say, “it sux.” (see SMS Marketing, September 19)

I also posted about a new indie movie entitled, “Outsourced,” that may have a solution to mis-advertised movies. They are cutting out the middleman and doing their own. I love this idea. The same people that had the creativity and the passion to put together a film that they care about should be the same people to market that film with the same creativity and passion. Audience research is full of phony numbers and statistics on demographics and psychographics. Most of it is intuition anyway. So let the people that love their movie market it. You don’t need a marketing degree to see everyone is doing the same thing and know that you need to be out of the box in order to get noticed.

Giving power to individuals is changing the way people research audiences. In my Audience research class, we talk about, “cost per thousand,” and, “gross rating points,” amongst a myriad of other ways professionals measure how effective a particular ad strategy will be. They use these buzz words and numbers to justify their spending where an independent person would just go with their gut. My professor said at the beginning of the semester, if you came up with the Nielson system of measuring TV ratings and handed it in as your final project at any university, you would have failed. Yeah, it’s that bad, and that is what the pros are using to spend advertising dollars.

I job shadowed a professional in NYC and found out some more cool stuff. The pros are moving away from GRPs and such. A GRP from the radio is not the same as a GRP from TV. Nor can you really measure GRP from a facebook group, or sticky notes posted all over a subway, or from a huge truck with your movie’s poster and soundtrack blaring while it drives through the city. Every ad agency is coming up with new abbreviations to describe how involved and effective a medium is. They are going through all this red tape so that they can prove to their clients that they are using their money wisely. Well and indie filmmaker is using her or his own money and more importantly investing themselves. These people are only going to pursue what they think will work. And they are not answering to some executive. I can see more and more indie filmmakers moving away from the big production studios in order to promote their movies the way they want to, the way they should be.

Just like the blogosphere, the movie business is getting crowded. Maybe crowded is the wrong word. It assumes that there is a finite space that will eventually have no more room.
Just like the blogoshpere, the movie business is becoming populated. And hopefully it will continue to grow in numbers and be filled with individuals that think for themselves. Those are the people I want advertising their movies to me.

There is a lot of opinion and voice in what I just wrote. And I love blogs for giving me this opportunity. I wrote this blog for class, Audience Research, as I have stated before. But I feel like I learned more about blogging then the movie advertising business. I found out it is hard to keep up a blog over time, but after talking with some professionals, I think it’s worth it. You may know Greg Verdino from Crayon Marketing, he keeps up his blog. He said to me that sometimes he feels like the blog is a lot of work too. But then someone calls him about something he wrote and asks him to come in and meet with them. Then he realizes it is worth it.

I think so too. I will keep bloging. As I look for jobs throughout my life, my blog will act as a cover letter to everything. People can see what I think and what I like. They can get to know me from my commentary on different things and hopefully look at whatever issue I am talking about a little differently. And who knows, some day I just might find myself being contacted because I said something someone important liked. So look for J Tags in the future for more fun commentary. And get your own, there are never enough voices in the blogosphere.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Theater Commericals

The National Guard has just officially launched their ad campaign for theaters (click here for story). Their first short feature entitled "Citizen Soldier" has already appeared in theaters around the country but starting next month will be seen in about 65% of all theaters. Those are really good odds that you are going to be seeing this.

The feature is directed by Antoine Fuqua, the director of the Academy Award-winning film, Training Day.” And it has an original song by 3 Doors Down with the same name. It is not just a dinky commercial that you could see on tv. As a person that loves to get to the movies early so that I make sure I see the trailers, I am OK with this type of advertising before a movie.

I can't stand a 30-second spot before my movie! Nothing bothers me more than a coke commercial that I saw on TV a few days ago. I really like trailers because they are entertaining. Yes, they are trying to sell the movie to me, but they are also trying to prove that it is going to be an entertaining movie and therefore make the trailer entertaining. So I like the fact that the National Guard is not shlopping together a 30-second spot to get recruits. They put together a pretty cool highlight real of the Guard and all its glory to not only recruit the men and women looking to serve their country through military service, but to also entertain those that are paying ten bucks just to be there. That is extra entertainment, so National Guard, keep the cool videos coming, I'll watch 'em.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bee Movie's tagline not so sweet

Jerry Seinfeld's new movie "Bee Movie" is facing some legal trouble as the studio is being sued for using the slogan, "Give Bees a Chance," in their marketing campaign. Beeceuticals is an organic cosmetics company that makes its products from honey and other bee byproducts. They are suing Dreamworks and Paramount Pictures, claiming that they have had the slogan trademarked since October 2006 and have lost business due to Bee Movie using it.

Two things here that I have to say:
1. Giving Bees a Chance?? Is it really that good of a slogan. I can see why Paramount did not look very far into whether or not this line was trademarked. it is not very good, for either business. I haven't dissected Beeceuticals yet but I don't think that "giving bees a chance," is using their honey that worked so hard for. And it is not even a play on words or anything.

And Bee Movie has a lot more better stuff than that. The only thing that slogan does is give a little glimpse at the plot. But I don't think that is really Bee Movies style. Which brings me to number two.

2. I love how Bee Movie has been advertising itself. Jerry Seinfeld is at a very key point in his career after his show has ended and enough time has elapsed that it is not odd for him to be doing other things. So I love how the trailers show him struggling to do a movie. The trailers make it look like he is trying to put the movie together like he would a show. And it is not working out.

The campaign gives a good look into the idea of the film and doesn't try to sell you on the plot. The trailer tells me that this is going to be a funny movie because there is going to be a lot of Jerry Seinfeld comedy. I like that. I watched all the trailers a few times to see the story unfold until Spielberg finally tells Seinfeld to animate it. So Bee Movie, I love what you are doing, tough break with the crapy slogan lawsuit.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Too many movies??

Well this weekend was yet another awesome weekend for movies. Elizabeth: The Golden Age; We Own the Night; Lars and the Real Girl; Sleuth; and Across the Universe all opened around the country this weekend. These are just a few of the movies that came out. I am not even going to go into the tons of indy films that came out too.

Professionals are saying that now more than ever, there are a lot of movies. Chalk it up to more indy studios like Fow Searchlight and Warner Bros Indepent, or chalk it up to studios trying to release their films at the same time of year in order to set up their films for a better chance at producing a good Oscar buzz, but whatever you chalk it up to, know that it is harder than ever to get your movie noticed.

And with so many movies, it doesn't have more than two weeks in a theater to work its magic. Theaters are getting movies in and out as fast as they can.

This weekend I went to see Across the Universe, the new tripy Beatles movie. Wow was it amazing. But I will admit, if it wasn't for my friends being crazy about the Beatles, and getting high, I probably wouldn't have chosen that movie. So the moral of the story is that you have to get a few people fired up about your movie. If you can appeal to someone so strongly that it cuts through the clutter for them, then they will get their friends to go to. There are so many choices, people will gladly take a little guidance from someone that garuntees a good movie experience.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Assassinating Movies

Did you know that "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is coming out this Friday? Neither did I. There are lots of others that didn't know either. It turns out that the distributor, Warner Brothers Studios has just released the movie all willie-nillie-like. Little advertising and almost no promotion.

The trouble with deciding to release a movie quietly and neglecting to announce it until a few days before it is released is that there cannot be press screenings for the movie. And in the places where the theater scrambles to put together a press screening, they have to do it after many of the writers miss their deadlines.

Perhaps Warner Bros. did not think that Jesse James would do very well and decided to just wash their hands of it and let it go. But come on WB! The least you can do is release it in a normal way to encourage the usual publicity a movie gets. They didn't even get Brad Pitt to go on Conan to promote it.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but critics are giving it pretty good reviews. This might be robing people of a good movie experience. That doesn't bother me very much though, its not there is a noble cause promoted in the movie. But what does make me mad is the fact that it is someone's art being treated like a piece of crap. WB, I am disappointed in you.

Friday, October 5, 2007

"Thanks Blockbuster," says Netflix

There are three categories of movies in my life. I'll see it in theaters, I don't even want to talk about it, and of course I'll rent it. But that used to mean a lot more than it does now. My system was developed during the ice age when you had to walk down the streets of Reynoldsville, PA to go to video store, pick it out and tote it home. Then you had to worry about taking it back.

Now-a-days we are accustomed to just adding a movie to our Netflix list and wait for it to show up at our door. That's how Good Luck Chuck made it onto my list of renters seeing that I wouldn't have to actually exert effort to see it.

But it is not just Netflix's system that caters to lazy couch potatoes that has boosted its stock to about $22. Blockbuster is helping out. Noticing the new trend to buy and rent movies online, blockbuster started its Total Access campaign to tap into the online market. This proved to not be profitable at all. The only thing that happened was it took away business from the walk in store buyers. Now enter the genius move. Blockbuster saw the non-value of advertising for its Total Access, and oops more online business goes to Netflix. The old bait and switch. Only not on purpose.

So if you are looking to invest in the movie renting industry, may I suggest the $22-a-share netflix as opposed to the $5 Blockbuster.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Convenient Advertising!

Well we have all heard of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Well Leonardo DiCaprio is hosting the next installment in the the-world-is-going-to-hell-unless-we-do-something-to-stop-it series. The new movie, "The 11th hour" picks up where Gore left off and talks about global warning thanks to the industrial age. But wait, there's more! The 11th hour goes on to talk about what we can all do as individuals in order to turn our worst hour, into our finest. That is some good stuff.

And they are teaching us to fight g-warming with style. The marketing plan for 11th hour is making it easy to spread the word about the movie, about the issues it talks about, and get involved in the solution. reports that the great organization behind the film, along with this cool widget, is revolutionary for a movie like this.

This little widget features the trailer, links to environmental sites like its sponsor Gaiam, the option to mail to a friend, and even the embedded code to make it supper easy to place in a blog or social networking site. If you care about green issues, you can spread the word like hot butter on toast!

The widget technology also allowed non-profit websites to post it on their sites with their logo instead of the trailer's. This makes them look better while spreading word. Basically, the trailer can be distributed by individuals AND organizations. I love the cause, I love the fact that the marketing reflects the cause, and I love the environment.

And in honor of World Vegetarian Day, and National Vegetarian Month, I want to remind everyone that eating vegetarian conserves energy and helps turn the 11th hour into our finest.

And here is a funny video about veggies.