Modern movie marketing's most irritating tactics

We like movies. You like movies. We all like movies. But sometimes, we have to tolerate a whole lot of nonsense in the weeks and months before the movie is released. These are the 10 most annoying things about movie marketing in the modern age…

The trailer teaser

No, not the teaser trailer. The trailer teaser. There’s a difference. The teaser trailer is a proper, scene-setting introduction to the world of the movie. The trailer teaser is a five second clip that tells you the trailer isn’t finished yet but it will be in a couple of days.

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It’s usually a shot of a location, or a prop, or something intended to drum up interest. All they succeed in drumming up is disappointment. In many cases, teaser trailers get trailer teasers, so some are technically teaser trailer teasers. Is it just us or has the word ‘teaser’ now lost all meaning? We can’t even enjoy Maltesers any more.

The post-credits sting

Ant-Man’s mid-credit sting laid the groundwork for 2018’s sequel (Marvel Studios/Disney)

This technique started off as a real treat for dedicated fans to stick around through the credits; a reward that teased (there’s that word again) what’s coming next. Then, after a while, they became expected, and when there wasn’t a post-credits sting – or even a mid-credits sting! – people would get angry. Now studios are so keen to jump on the post-credits sting bandwagon, they often release the sting before the movie has been released, as Fox did with ‘Logan”s ‘Deadpool 2’ teaser. Warner Bros didn’t even bother attaching the post-credits sting to ‘Batman Vs Superman’ to the movie, they just released a deleted scene online beforehand.

Over-used poster trends

Once you see them, you can’t un-see them – the tried-and-tested design techniques that hide on every movie poster. For a while, everyone was using sparks on their posters. Then it was dust. A good five years passed where every major movie poster consisted of the hero stood with his back turned to the camera (see me after class, Christopher Nolan). Now the current trend is writing text all over Matt Damon’s face. Graphic designers working on these projects are usually talented artists – they deserve more than some marketing suit chucking an existing poster on their desk, saying ‘Make it look like that’.

Trailers for the attention-span deficient

A pre-trailer montage from the first ‘Baby Driver’ trailer (Sony Pictures)

Making an impression on social media is like trying to shout your drinks order to the gig bar from the mosh pit – there’s a lot of noise out there. A recent trend has seen studios release their new trailers with mini ‘best of’ montages right at the beginning to catch the attention of those scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al, and to cram in as much on YouTube before the “skip now” button appears. That’s fine, but why ruin it for the rest of us? The social media trailer intros are like little spoiler reels: a barrage of micro money shots before the main event. Are you even still reading this, or did your attention already wander to the next bit?

Slow-reveal marketing

Game of Thrones (Facebook/HBO)

To be fair, this technique is the antithesis to the methods above which are tailored to the impatient – the problem is, slow reveals always, always open themselves up to abuse. We saw a prime example recently when the ‘Game Of Thrones’ S7 release date was hidden inside a block of ice, and each social media comment helped it thaw a little quicker. A neat idea in principle, but people tuned in, watched a block of ice essentially do nothing, then tuned out. Another example was the social media-generated reveal of Bane from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, which was so slow it prompted users to hack the website and reveal the pic. Don’t. Make. Nerds. Wait.

Unnecessary character posters

Beauty and the Beast (Disney)

Everyone likes a good poster set, and if your movie has a varied ensemble cast then by all means, let’s see them each have their own individual poster. However. This only applies to certain movies. ‘Ocean’s 1’1? Fine. ‘The Hateful Eight’? Great. ‘Captain America: Civil War’? Sure. But did we really need to see an individual poster for ‘Beauty And The Beast’ characters Cadenza and Plumette? For the uninitiated, that’s the piano and the feather duster. Come now marketing fellas. Now you’re just wasting valuable ink.

Trailers that give away too much

Doomsday’s big revealed was spoiled by a BVS trailer (Warner Bros.)

Wah wah wah! This trailer is too small! Wah wah wah! This trailer is too long! Are we ever happy? In truth, over-long and spoiler-filled trailers are way bigger offenders than harmless little teasers – if it feels like they’re removing the need for you to actually go and see the movie at all, the marketing team aren’t doing their job. Remember the ‘Batman V Superman’ trailer that spoiled the secret big bad and showcased all the secrets! We want less of that and more trailers like ‘Suicide Squad”s Bohemian Rhapsody masterpiece, although that was arguably better than the movie.


Robert Downey Jr was promoting ‘The Judge’ when he stormed out of his C4 interview (C4 News)

Press junkets are a complicated complaint as for us, as they’re a necessary evil. The problem is that they’re set up in precisely such a way that anything even vaguely out of the ordinary will often be stamped on and suffocated. Media types (including us, we’re all cogs in the wheel at the end of the day) gather en masse to interview the talent on camera, but only the most generic questions are asked (and sometimes, allowed), and only the most vanilla answers are given – you’ve got pioneers like Krishnan Guru-Murthy to thank for that (note to potential provocateurs: we hope your questions are better than ‘What was it like to take drugs?’). Nope, the best thing you can hope for is a volatile star – say, a Tom Hardy or a Shia LaBeouf – taking offence to a stupid question on the red carpet. Otherwise you might as well be reading a press release.

Behind the scenes info that ruins the illusion

The Walk (Sony Pictures)

Any big tent pole movie worth its salt has at least one big fawning magazine piece in it – the bigger the movie, the fawnier the article. Sometimes these are invaluable resources for fans. Sometimes, however, they take a dump on the wonder of cinema from a very large height. Take a Robert Zemeckis’ high wire thriller ‘The Walk’, for example: that looked like a tense night at the movies, until a Vanity Fair behind the scenes fluff piece showed Joseph Gordon-Levitt on set ‘balancing’ on a ‘wire’ the width and sturdiness of a small canoe. Don’t pull back the curtain, you idiots! The curtain is the best bit!

Weird tie-ins

Wayne Rooney, an X-Men? (20th Century Fox/YouTube)

What better way to promote your new movie than to align it with another highly successful brand? Sometimes these mutually-beneficial partnerships work out perfectly: James Bond wouldn’t be 007 unless he was driving a brand new Aston Martin on screen. However, they can also backfire and Manchester United’s partnership with 20th Century Fox is one of the weirdest ones in recent memory. The tie-in generally consists of Wayne Rooney being inserted into trailers for Fox’s biggest blockbusters. He crops up as a mutant with “intensity and incredible focus” in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’, Deadpool has dream about him in another, and he’s a fighter pilot in a particularly weird one for ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ where he proclaims “I’m fairly certain we handle a few out-of-towners”. Don’t give up the day job Wayne.

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