Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bad Marketing 101: movie posters that tell me what to do.

You're a movie poster. Your job is to advertise a film and make that film look enticing to me, the ticket buyer. You are not a parent, teacher, advisor, or self-help guru. Therefore, it is not your job to tell me how to live my life. It is not your job to offer theoretically empowering suggestions about how I choose to lead my existence. A moment of scorn for obnoxious movie posters of the last decade or so that saw themselves fit to tell me (and you) what to do. You're a movie poster. You are not the boss of me and I don't need your advice. Your only advice/order should be 'buy a ticket for this movie' and/or 'buy some popcorn and a soda'. Period. Enjoy some examples after the jump.

Thanks for the advice, Crazy/Beautiful. You felt you were so real, you were more than willing to not stand in the way while Disney studio execs cut your film down to ribbons in order to secure a PG-13. I think that counts as letting something stand in your way, so don't dare try to lecture me about making life-altering decisions.

Go? Go where? Engage in unhealthy habits, drug abuse, and/or wanton sexual promiscuity? Oh, you meant 'let yourself go' to the movie and buy a ticket to the latest Julia Roberts vehicle, because that's the only place you should be telling me where to go. Such arrogance...

First of all, those are some very specific instructions you've got there, Mr. Rider. You're implying that I should overthrow the current regime at my school and impose my own unelected authority, thereby saving the world? I suppose saving the cheerleader no longer causes said world to be saved? I see a bunch of helicopters and scary men on motorbikes, so is this an armed coup of some kind? Is collateral damage acceptable? More importantly, if you've seen the movie, the film has absolutely nothing to do with Alex Rider's schooling. At no point does his education, or the place where he is educated, play a role at all in the James Bond Jr. narrative at play. So, not only is it stupid advice, it is inaccurate advice in regards to the movie being sold.

How exactly should I go about raising hell? Should I commit random acts of violence to terrify the populace, or were you referring to a more biblical interpretation of 'raising hell'. Because if you merely meant that I should buy a ticket to this long-delayed (and allegedly quite terrible) Nicolas Cage/Ron Perlman adventure picture, then I hardly think that qualifies as even slightly subversive behavior.

Why exactly must I 'take back my life'? Who has taken my life from me? I was not aware that, except perhaps in some existential sense, my life was not my own. You could of course argue that, as a parent of a three-year old, I am no longer the primary decider of my own fate, but I hope you're not suggesting that I hire a gun-toting Liam Neeson to take care of that particular problem for me? Not that I'm too worried about that, as I'm pretty sure Allison would kick his ass and have him writhing on the floor while she repeatedly kicked him in the nuts screaming "Who's not-Abraham Lincoln now, bitch?" Point being, the marketing campaign for this film is pretty mediocre. How about less time telling me to 'take back my life' and more time actually making Unknown look like something worth giving up two hours of my life.

Wow, not only does this poster offer two empowering pieces of advice, but the title itself doubles as an order to boot. Don't hold back? Thanks, I'll remember that, especially when I'm genuinely upset at family members and/or people in authority. Don't give up? Sounds like logical advice, although it depends on what I'm attempting (sexual harassment, domestic terrorism, movie piracy, etc). Raise my voice? Um... in a movie theater? I don't think the other filmgoers would be too thrilled with that.

And that's the first batch I was able to track down. Feel free to send in your favorite examples of obnoxiously bossy and/or patronizing movie posters.

Scott Mendelson

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