Saturday, March 27, 2010
How (not) to advertise your movie
There will be a lot of people seeing How to Train Your Dragon this weekend. I may even be one of them.
But if I am, it will be because of the first trailer I saw several months ago, that really whetted my appetite. Not because of the spate of advertising that has followed, which has done its damnedest to kill that same appetite.
Shall I count the ways I have been numbed of my desire to see this movie?
1) If you don't live in Los Angeles, you may not have heard this story, but a man was arrested for putting up the so-called "supergraphic" you see above. This kind of advertising is now illegal, so the man was jailed and given an original bail of a staggering $1,000,000. His intention with this graphic? To get it in the background of the hundreds of cameras that would be filming in the vicinity of Hollywood and Highland for the Oscars. And it might have worked, had he waited a little closer to the telecast to put it up. But he was forced to take it down before he had the chance for his moment to materialize -- and he still faces the criminal charges. Is there a Darwin Award out there somewhere for this guy? Such large graphics have been deemed a safety to motorists -- especially when they feature a large mythological creature flying directly at you through a ring of fire.
2) And let's talk a bit more about that ring of fire, which alternately has the rider and dragon flying through it, as above, or has the dragon peaking through innocently. In the six weeks since the How to Train Your Dragon campaign has been in full swing, I have been assaulted by this giant ring of fire in no less than 397 different places around Los Angeles. On billboards. On buses. On bus stops -- both in the stop itself, and on the bench. Painted on the sides of horses. In place of stop signs. Tatooed on the insides of my eyelids. And when you see one image so many thousands of times -- I've passed some of these 397 places more than once -- you never, ever want to see it again. It's probably my duty to mention that many of these billboards also have a an actual plastic dragon walking atop them. If I'm most sick of that ring of fire, I'm second most sick of that dragon.
3) But perhaps the most obnoxious way this film has been advertised has been on television. Some of you have no doubt noticed that they've stopped calling this movie by its actual name in the ads. Instead, it's "Come see Dreamworks' Dragons!" Ugh -- let me pause a moment while I kill myself. There's nothing more insulting than being told you are too stupid to remember the full title of a movie. If they really didn't think we would be able to handle the outrageous grammatical complexity and highfalutin vocabulary of the title How to Train Your Dragon, they should have called it something else. It's not like it's The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. It's not like it's Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. It's not like it's Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which was abbreviated as Zack and Miri, or Zack and Miri Mrfmr Flf Pfrmrm, with the announcer swallowing the rest of the title so tender ears wouldn't be offended. It's a fairly simple, straightforward, inoffensive title, that only needs to be abbreviated because Dreamworks considers its consumers to be moronic monkeys who can only remember one word of anything. "Hmm, I knew there was something I wanted to see this weekend. It had something to do with dragons. Oh yeah! Dreamworks' Dragons! That was it." It disgusts me.
But, I will probably still see this movie. In the theater. In 3D. In IMAX 3D.
Hey, I can't boycott everything.