When consumers can watch whatever they want on the screen in their pocket, how do you get them into movie theaters?
The thing that makes entertainment marketing interesting, is that the strategy and approach for each film is so different every time. I worked with Warners Bros over two years on a number of films. Some big, some smaller, some sure to be critical darlings and box office smashes and some that were more challenging.
The goal is always the same. Make it feel like more than a movie. Make it feel like an unmissable cultural moment.
Our process starts with landing on a smart strategic insight and a compelling cultural context for every movie. From there, we develop a powerful creative platform that can work across every media channel available. The work that extends from each creative platform finds its way into the world in a number of different deliverables over a variety of mediums.
Ready Player One
Strategy: In a world where you can be whoever you want, it’s only what you do that matters.
“Ready Player One” is a great book. And with Spielberg at the helm, it became a film that audiences really love. We came up with the manifesto, power lines and the use of the Drew Struzan-inspired art below, bringing the nostalgia of 80s adventure stories into the virtual reality age.
We also created the experiential activation below. Inspired by the “Ready Player One” logo that was itself a maze, we came up with the idea of bringing the logo to life in a huge, immersive and interactive way, where people could go from room-to-room and experience a taste of the storyline first-hand. It was a huge success for WB, and the tickets for the experience sold out in just a couple of days.
Below are a couple of ideas that came close to being made for real. A giant human-powered wallscape. The idea was to hire stuntmen and women to play for a crowd of onlookers below. And a spectacular that saw the Back To The Future Delorean jump from one poster to another.
Strategy: To catch a dirty cop it takes a couple of really filthy ones.
CHiPs was a little different, mainly because the deservedly “R” rated film veered so far away from the squeaky clean image of the original 70’s TV show. WB asked us to create an “adults only” marketing strategy and campaign that would clearly communicate that CHiPs was a raunchy comedy in the vein of “American Pie” and “Porky’s.” So that’s exactly what we did. We developed poster lines and social posts, among other activations.
But my favorite was an experiential idea for SXSW, where we created an “R” rated, cop-themed donut shop (because policemen like donuts, of course). It was called the “D Hole,” and well, it wasn’t exactly Dunkin’ Donuts.
Strategy: It took a man raised in the streets to become the kingdom’s most just king.
Guy Ritchie’s retelling of the legend of King Arthur needed an iconic look. Arthur is part king, all gangster. We went with a bruised, battered image of Arthur, seemingly rising from the streets, licked with gold foil type.
Other designs we explored played off those same themes in different ways.
Strategy: The ultimate puzzle solver is also the world’s greatest puzzle.
Central to The Accountant is a character (Ben Affleck) and story driven by duality. By leveraging the power of paradox, we sought to engage our audience at every touchpoint, making The Accountant unmissable and creating curiosity and conversation.
Our goal was to create experiences that left our audience asking questions only seeing the movie can answer. Among other activations, we developed an escape room filled with clues related to Affleck’s motivations and secret persona.
We also created online advertising that brought this duality to life.
Strategy: Inspire a nation to wake their inner hustler.
This was the first project we worked on for WB, and we were brought in not long before the film premiered. Which meant that they didn’t have a lot of marketing dollars left to bring new ideas to life. A fact we certainly took to heart.
“War Dogs” is the true story of two guys who, through happenstance and dumb luck, somehow made $300 million as international arms dealers. We called what they did “Hustling their way to the American Dream,” and all of our work revolved around the idea that nearly everyone has a side hustle. Our goal was to bring that to life in a fun, intriguing and sharable (plus inexpensive) way. We we started with a really simple idea: Plastering “help wanted” flyers guerilla-style in major markets across the country. The reaction all over social was priceless.
The posts led to a very basic landing page created, presumably, by Jonah Hill’s character, where people could learn the ins and outs of hustling their way to the American dream.
Strategy: Differentiate and revitalize the DC cinematic world.
A manifesto for Warner Bros and the worlds of DC. WB wanted to position DC so they could reclaim their iconic place in culture in a world where superheroes rule the day. The manifesto was the first step, and it was written to speak to fans of DC films specifically (as opposed to comics, tv or games). It became a much-loved brand film, shown in Hall H at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con.