MOVIE MARKETING MADNESS: “THE INCREDIBLES”

In this space I have, albeit grudgingly, reviewed the campaigns for the latest two animation offerings from Dreamworks, a studio which, given its credentials, should be producing high quality entertainment for the whole family. Instead it has given us both Shrek movies and Shark Tale. Someone in that office needs to review their mission statement.

Pixar, however, has stepped in to offer the proverbial cold (but not too cold) rich full lager to an audience that has had nothing but Meister Brau thrown at them since its last offering arrived in Finding Nemo. Having built a reputation over the course of its first five movies as a studio who knows how to tell a good story for all ages, expectations are high for “The Incredibles”.

The Posters

There are quite a variety of posters, some featuring the entire team/family of The Incredibles and some showing an individual. All follow a consistent theme using the red background. There’s really not too much going on in the posters but all do make a point to remind the viewer the movie is from the “Creators of ‘Finding Nemo’”, a line which will be used over and over again.

The Trailers

Three trailers can be found, one teaser and two theatrical versions. The teaser uses almost exclusively the scene of Mr. Incredible struggling valiantly to get into his costume, which he has grown too big for. It’s a funny bit and is effective at setting the general tone by showing the tongue-in-cheek look at superheroes the movie takes.

The two theatrical versions use bits and pieces of this scene but intersperse bits of humor and, surprisingly, genuine action into the mix. Actually, I’m not that surprised by it. Go back and rewatch “Nemo” or even “Toy Story” and see how harrowing some sequences can be. Pixar doesn’t seem to shy away from bringing audiences to the edge of their seats, but they seem to be actively trying to appeal to a different audience with this rather than just trying to lure the kids who bought stuffed fish at the Disney Store back in.

The Website

Just like the refrigerator in my house dedicated to beer, this website is fully stocked. Even so, it plays more to the kids than the other aspects of the campaign. There are a bunch of portions to the site that just went active this final week before opening so if you visited previously, head on back for new features.

By selecting any of the characters which appear on the main page, you can access their Profile, including video segments. These clips are a nice mix of footage from the trailers and new stuff. Watch the one for Holly Hunter’s Elastigirl for an especially nice performance. The profiles also include stats like you would find on a baseball card or in those cool “Handbook to the Marvel Universe” books that I use to…. I mean.. comics? Who collects comics?

“Video” contains all three trailer flavors, a couple of the TV spots (which work pretty well, but the time constraints really are felt), a behind-the-scenes featurette and access to the same Profiles found elsewhere. There is also a funny bit entitled “1st in Line” detailing the fictional travails of the first person in line for the movie. It’s a nice take on those folks who put on the Darth Vader mask and, I don’t know, quit their jobs for two months to make sure they can buy a ticket. Check it out for a chuckle.

The standard fare is under the “About the Film” section in the form of Story, Cast & Crew and Production Notes. There is also a heading for Partners which has the logos for those companies who ponyed up a few extra bucks. There are no links to those companies or descriptions on what kind of licensed products you can buy from them, so I really see this as a missed opportunity on their part.

“Games” includes three, well, games – two of which are actually kind of fun if you are supposed to be working and instead have convinced your co-workers you need to do this kind of thing to research a website because you think you’re some sort of high-falutin’ “columnist”. This may just be me, though. IncrediColor is just a standard “painting” application but Know Your Strength and Picture Yourself As A Superhero are pretty amusing so check them out.

“Downloads” is chock-full of the latest in things to occupy your time, hard-drive and printer. There are too many to list so check it out yourself if you really need to print out a Mr. Incredible mask or logo iron-on. Finally, “Gallery” has a section for images from the movie or click on “Bob’s Study” to view the memorabilia adorning Mr. Incredibles’ study in the movie.

Overall

I’m a bit surprised that the most kid-friendly aspect of the campaign is in the website. Its interactivity is a natural for the surf-proficient pre-teen but the problem is what is going to drive them there? The trailers play more to adults with their action sequences, only really speaking to kids when they reference Pixar’s previous movies. I get the feeling this is purposeful as the message of the movie will likely resonate more with parents than their children.

Releasing this in Oscar-contender heavy November and not blockbuster-fodder laden July is an interesting choice and may have been a move by Pixar to distance themselves from Dreamworks’ two stink-bombs. Every part of the campaign references Pixar’s previous efforts (except for “A Bugs Life”) so they are clearly trading on the goodwill they’ve built up over the years, a solid if uninspired move to bring people in.

As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Random Thoughts blog.




Posted on November 3, 2004 in Features by
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