MOVIE MARKETING MADNESS: “BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON”

Despite a few roles in some moderately notable movies, Renee Zellweger arguably arrived in full force as the woman who “completed” Tom Cruise’s Jerry Maguire. Since then she has consistently made movies that show her trying to tread the same path as Meg Ryan before her by alternating quirky romance and comedies with prestige projects such as Cold Mountain.

Barring Cameron Crowe writing “Maguire 2: Electric Boogaloo”, the role of Bridget Jones presented her with her one chance at a “signature” character. I personally didn’t see it as I had to help negotiate an ultimately fruitless peace negotiation between the voices in my head at the time. Priorities.

The Poster

The look on Zellweger’s face is one that I had a hard time coming up with a way to identify. Is it exasperated? Is it shocked? I couldn’t find a good word for it, but do know that the look will pop up again later.

Two more points: 1) Renee looks skinnier on the poster than in the trailer. Obviously a story about a slightly overweight neurotic is fine but the marketers shied away from an actual picture of one. 2) The lettering is in pink and purple, much like all the rest of the “chick-lit” books that followed the publication of Bridget Jones’ Diary. This is good since it allows for easy identification for any otherwise confused men as something they should be afraid of.

The Trailer

Renee Z acts wacky while Colin Firth acts stuffy. On the plus side it looks like Hugh Grant may get the snot kicked out of him at some point. I’d pay at least $3.50 for that alone. Anyway, the trailer is standard rom-com fare with embarrassing situations and what-not, showcasing moments from a half-dozen set pieces scattered throughout the film.

The Website

At first I was surprised by how rich and full the website seemed to be, but then as I thought about it, I wasn’t as much. I’ll explain why later.

The “Movie” section leads things off with a Synopsis (which doesn’t include anything about Hugh Grant shuffling loose this mortal coil unfortunately) and bios/filmographies of the Cast & Crew. “Production” is subdivided into five or six segments for those visitors with the attention span of a rabid ferret.

Music from the soundtrack is playing constantly while viewing the site and visiting the “Soundtrack” section lets you listen to a snippet of each song from the album, including Annie Lennox joining Sting in a remake of his song “We’ll Be Together”. I now have to go slam my head into a brick wall. Feel free to do the same.

“Photo Gallery” contains lots of shots of Renee Z. making that embarrassed/shocked face from the poster and trailer. As badly as this reactive form of acting may work on screen it’s that much worse in still photos. Wallpaper, AIM icons and a ScreenSaver can be found in “Downloads” and “Trailer” is where you can go to find a Korean War era instructional film on how to avoid venereal disease.

There are four sections of the site that actually exceeded my expectations. “Men”, “Friends”, “Family” and “Career” were, I thought, going to contain character profiles that would emphasize quirks and how those people have plagued poor Bridget. Instead these sections are rich in content that, if not especially substantive, is more so than I initially believed.

“Men” is where you will find games such as a Culture Quiz (test your useless pop-culture knowledge), Which One Are You? (where you can find out which character you’re most like, Grant’s or Firth’s) and my favorite – Downhill Disaster. It’s a skiing game where you guide Bridget down a ski slope. Each time you run into an obstacle the Embarrassment Meter grows. This is too corny to adequately explain and you really should check it out yourself.

The other three parts are slightly less fun. “Friends” contains a Relationship Cocktail, where you get to project all your own neurosis and some E-cards. A fairly slick feature can be found in “Career” that enables you to essentially create your own trailer by pasting four segments of the movie together. It then intersperses text between the clips. Finally “Family” contains an Embarrassment Timeline featuring Bridget Jones’ greatest embarrassing moments with audio.

Overall

The campaign, as well as the movie, relies heavily on recognition of the first. Otherwise people are not going to know the back-story on Bridget’s relationship with Hugh Grant or just what she had to go through to get Colin Firth.

There’s something here for all straight men to be offended by and for all women to be attracted to. Bridget acts as a surrogate for the insecurities and neurotic tendencies of all women, allowing them to laugh at themselves. This is why I ultimately was not surprised that the website was so full. It’s perfect for women to get involved in Bridget’s world by seeing just how embarrassing she can be.

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 10, 2004 in Features by
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