In Contention


Phase two campaign messages give it their best shot

Posted by Kristopher Tapley · 10:38 am · February 4th, 2011

I’ve been, unintentionally, taking note of the various tactics this year’s Best Picture hopefuls have been using as phase two barrels ahead and members have ballots in hand.

The smartest stroke, I think, was The Weinstein Company following up the “Some Movies You See, Others You Feel” campaign with a “Find Your Voice” push for “The King’s Speech.” It’s obviously two-fold.  Yes, it indicates the narrative of the film, but it also works wonderfully in a “don’t let anyone tell you what to vote for” kind of way.

Meanwhile, Sony is perhaps reaching a bit to find its own campaign voice for “The Social Network,” as “One Movie Connects Us All” is a bit faux-profound.  Show of hands of who’s mother isn’t on Facebook?  But that making-of documentary (which is available online, on demand and came in disc form in the trades this week) was certainly a smart play.

Fox Searchlight is plugging a “Dare To Be Bold” tag in print ads for “Black Swan,” which is the kind of thing that can seem a bit forceful, but it may stop just short of being too much so.  It’s also using what it has to show for itself.  A TV spot on The Tonight Show last night noted, “The only movie nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress.”  Can’t argue with that.  But “The King’s Speech” had an another, boasting that it is “the most celebrated and acclaimed film of the year.”  Well, hang on a second…

Stretching can be found elsewhere, too.  Ads for “True Grit” call it “the most honored American film of the year” (NOTE: Nathan makes a good point in the comments below that I must have missed, but I guess that makes the point that clarity is everything), while the “Toy Story 3″ campaign is leaning heavily on Rotten Tomatoes for its “best reviewed film of the year” claim.  It’s as applicable a source as any, but the designation is nevertheless arguable.

Then there is “Inception.” Warner Bros. bought a giant gatefold card stock ad in this week’s Hollywood Reporter (and I imagine elsewhere, too).  It kind of accentuates the epic nature of the film, but then quotes emphasizing “wholly original,” “wildly ingenious” and “masterpiece” start to lose the focus by bludgeoning.  I’d stick with one quote noting the originality and ingenuity of the film contrasted with something like this gatefold, which punctuates its blockbuster nature, and therefore establish it as an intriguing, ahem, “paradox.”  But what do I know?

That’s just on a first pass of the week’s materials.  I’m sure there are other twists and turns on the campaign trail to come.  For instance, I get the sense Paramount is content to let the two frontrunners fight to the death before unleashing something special for “The Fighter,” but we’ll see.  There are, interestingly enough, already Best Director FYC ads online that state, in no uncertain terms, “the comeback story of the year.”

It’s all about the journey.

[Photo: The Weinstein Company]




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→ 23 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

23 responses so far

  • 1 2-04-2011 at 10:53 am

    JJ1 said...

    I feel like ‘The Fighter’ is just so agreeable.

    I don’t know if there’s enough goodwill for the most #1 votes (or however the voting process goes), but I really think that there is passion there (moreso, even, than ‘True Grit’).

    ‘The Fighter’ has a strength with the actors. It has Wahlberg (on a hot streak lately). It has strength in it’s director/writers/editor. And it even had respect from below-the-line (costume, make-up guilds).

    I’d love a complete surprise like ‘The Fighter’ coming up. Still don’t think it’ll quite happen, though.

  • 2 2-04-2011 at 11:04 am

    Maxim said...

    I was pondering some of the same thoughts when I first saw that “One Movie Connects Us All” slogan.

    Personally, I’d love to see the “Social Network” guys match “King’s Speech’s” below the… er, brow, slogans with the likes of “Some movies make your Regret, others make you Proud”.
    Can you imagine the response to something like this?

    I mean come on, it’s not like that “Find Your Voice” thing is fooling anybody. Nobody is being subtle and neither should the opposition.

    The Social Network… It’s OUT THERE.

    And that “Defines a generation” crap? Throw it out the window. Go with:

    One movie DEFINES ALL GENERATIONS.

    They could also go with something hip/cheesy like

    Only one film this year is +1.

    Black Swan? That one’s obvious: You felt it.

    Inception? The movie that’s STILL spinning in you head.

  • 3 2-04-2011 at 11:34 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Don’t quit your day job, Maxim.

  • 4 2-04-2011 at 11:37 am

    San FranCinema said...

    I saw an ad today for “The Fighter” that was emphasizing David O. Russell’s direction. It included a video clip of him on set. Also, on “The FIghter”‘s official website they have a front-page link to his recent public interview with Spike Jonze.

    Maybe they see an opening for a best director win — those who don’t like Fincher/The Social Network, but don’t want to vote for the relative newcomer Hooper, might pick Russell as their guy?

  • 5 2-04-2011 at 11:40 am

    Maxim said...

    The joke’s on you, Tapley. As it often is.

  • 6 2-04-2011 at 11:47 am

    Nathan said...

    I think the accent is on the American portion of True Grit’s campaign. I think that True Grit is directly referring to it’s number of Academy Award nominations, not at overall honors this year, and jibing at The King’s Speech for being a very pro-British Monarchy film. In other words, if you are a true ‘merican then you vote for True Grit.

  • 7 2-04-2011 at 11:47 am

    red_wine said...

    RT against all argument, have given their Golden Tomato award, which they give to the Best Reviewed Film Of The Year to Toy Story 3. So the claim stands. And it is as applicable as any other claim, TS3 is undeniably massively acclaimed.

    One Movie Connects Us All is a bit arguable.
    Its the one movie which has really divided the people following the Oscar race and made it bitter and malicious. Though of course I speak in jest :P

  • 8 2-04-2011 at 11:56 am

    Maxim said...

    “And it is as applicable as any other claim, ”

    No, it isn’t. As in there are better ways to measure it.

    Remember that RT’s score is an estimate. And even if it wasn’t, all RT’s score does is show how broadly liked some is. Real acclaim depends on acclaim.

    And the best way to measure critical acclaim is to look at critics top ten lists. And Toy Story 3 is not at the top there.

  • 9 2-04-2011 at 12:19 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    But it’s a valid thing to point to and say, “See?” As in it’s not patently false even if it is something that is up for nuanced debate.

    I’ll leave your “joke’s on you” barb alone since it makes no sense (and since you clearly missed my own joking tone to begin with).

  • 10 2-04-2011 at 12:21 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Nathan: Ah, good point. Noted in the piece.

  • 11 2-04-2011 at 12:26 pm

    Maxim said...

    Kris, my response was equally jokey, actually :) . You know I never realy mean to offend.

    That said, my… slogans… were… um… completely serious. I am being serious.

  • 12 2-04-2011 at 12:31 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    The internet. Misleading user tone since 1992.

  • 13 2-04-2011 at 12:32 pm

    Collin said...

    The question is, will any of these strategies work? Can anyone unseat Hooper/Fincher or Kings Speech/Social Network? Really?

  • 14 2-04-2011 at 1:36 pm

    Jacob S. said...

    It would be awfully cheesy if they have “Like this ad on Facebook” next to all the TSN ads. I hope they do it.

  • 15 2-04-2011 at 2:01 pm

    RealDogBoy said...

    I find “One Movie Connects Us All” a bit creepy — in a big-brother-of-the-internet way. It’s a phrase that can be taken more than one way.

    Full disclosure: I’m rooting for True Grit for Picture and Director.

  • 16 2-04-2011 at 2:17 pm

    Graysmith said...

    The King’s Speech just landed its biggest supporter: The Queen of England, daughter of the film’s main protagonist. According to a THR article she was moved by it, so chalk that up as another nail in the coffin!

  • 17 2-04-2011 at 3:20 pm

    qwiggles said...

    The Social Network campaign’s insistence on arguing for the film’s relevance by playing on what Facebook does is as goofy as all its Zuckerberg ass-kissing. What baffles me is that there’s plenty of emotional content in the film to draw upon without cheaply bowing to Facebook. It’s no accident, for instance, that the otherwise rather unorthodox Reznor score got nominated: those opening credits scored to “Hand Covers Bruise” are poignant. So is it’s portrait of a guy who worries, years after the fact and a billion dollars later, about that mean thing he wrote about his ex-girlfriend’s blog size. And so is the sad business with Eduardo. Emphasizing the connectivity angle when promoting a film about a guy who, when we leave him, is obviously pained by the bridges he’s burned, seems like a total wrongheaded move. Are they begging for more people like Franco to say “that’s not even depicted in the movie”?

  • 18 2-04-2011 at 3:22 pm

    qwiggles said...

    “his ex-girlfriend’s blog size” — That’s right: I just typed that. Feeling a little Zuckerberg blogger’s remorse.

  • 19 2-04-2011 at 4:14 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Added a note re: Russell and The Fighter.

  • 20 2-05-2011 at 3:45 am

    Glenn said...

    The new “King’s Speech” slogan: ‘The Best Reviewed Film of 1996!’

    Put *that* on your marketing!

  • 21 2-05-2011 at 7:14 am

    JJ1 said...

    What are our thoughts on Melissa Leo’s personal campaign?

    I mostly feel bad for her. It’s like: part pathetic, part understandable.

    The woman is a great actress who, at 50, is finally getting some recognition for a long tv/movie career. And it’s true, other than winning awards, she’s not been in the spotlight this season. And I guess she figures this is a way (albeit strange) to get some notice.

    I just wonder if it’ll backfire. I don’t think so. But I wonder.

    I never thought she was about ‘awards’, but it seems she’s caught the bug. We’re all human. And if she loses, I think I’ll feel worse for her now that I see this frailty.

  • 22 2-06-2011 at 8:52 pm

    Joe7827 said...

    For the record, I liked Maxim’s “some movies make you regret, others make you proud” idea. It got me to thinking of other ideas.

    INCEPTION: Some movies were kind of original, others are incredibly groundbreaking.
    BLACK SWAN: some movies you think are weird, others you think are OHMYGOSHWHATJUSTHAPPENED crazy.
    127 HOURS: Some movies you walk out unharmed, others make you lose an arm.
    TRUE GRIT: some movies look nice, others look breathtakingly beautiful.
    THE SOCIAL NETWORK: Some movies come back for just the 30%, other come back for everything.
    Yeah, this isn’t going so well. I’m not quitting my day job either.