Promises, Promises...

E-mail this post

Remember me (?)

All personal information that you provide here will be governed by the Privacy Policy of More...

Here are some comments from critics that I found on today:

On Memoirs of A Geisha: "I was blown away by the trailer, but the movie doesn't live up to that dramatic promise."-- Cherryl Dawson and Leigh Ann Palone, THEMOVIECHICKS.COM

On Syriana: "I'm still waiting to see the film that was advertised in its great trailer."-- Steve Rhodes, INTERNET REVIEWS

If a brand or product is directly tied to customer expectations, be very, very, very careful what you promise your customers.

Case in point: Movie trailers.

Before I get to the point, you need to know that I love movie trailers just about as much as I love other types of ads. Much to my wife's chagrin, I will gladly sit through twenty minutes of trailers before the main feature. As a matter of fact, I make a point of getting to movies early so that I won't miss the trailers.

Yeah, okay, I'm a geek. Sue me.

I don't know if it's just me, but it seems that trailers are really getting lousy these days. What's going on? Who's actually putting these things together? Sales interns? (Ooops. No offense.)

So Hollywood, if you're listening, here are a few tips:

1) A trailer is a teaser. A taste. You're trying to seduce us, not give us a synopsis... So don't show us THE ENTIRE movie! See, when you show every single plot twist and special effect, you're basically making us NOT want to go spend my money on something that our brains have already processed.

2) A trailer shouldn't seem like it was put together in ten minutes by rushed middle-schoolers.

3) Make sure the end cut doesn't look and sound like it got caught in aunt Gertrude's toaster.

4) Every movie isn't "one of the best movies of the year." Every movie isn't good enough to have "Oscar written all over it." Give the fake critics a rest already. It's sad.

Okay, I'm done. (And yeah, I feel much better.)

By the way, the best trailer I saw all year was for The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. Flawless. The three different versions that I saw were obviously put together by someone who cared about the movie and knew how to build excitement without a) lying, and b) giving everything away.

This used to be the norm. Now, it's the exception. Sad.

What's perhaps worse than a poorly produced trailer are misleading trailers. Don't promise "the funniest comedy of the year" if it isn't. Every comedy trailer I saw in 2005 had some such of endorsement from a movie critic whose name I couldn't read. (Microscopic print flashing on and off the screen inside of ten frames is insulting.)

Not every love story is "the most romantic movie of the year."

Not every horror flick is "the scariest American movie of the decade."


Likewise, don't make a psychological thriller look like an action flick. Don't use clips of deleted scenes in a theatrical trailer and make us think we're going to get to see something that we really aren't. Don't make us think we're going to get one thing, and then deliver another.

Breeding cynicism in your customers is not a recipe for growth.

Every year, the US spends less and less on theater tickets. Hmmm... I wonder why.

Promise : Delivery
Excitement : Disappointment.

Not good.

My wife and I went to see Syriana this week. Smart script. Great acting. Cool cinematography. Shame on me for not having done my homework, but up until the end credits started scrolling, I was absolutely convinced that I had watched a Steven Soderbergh film. (What, with the George Clooney and Matt Damon connection, the Traffic-like plot and style, and the fact that some of the trailers I saw mentioned Soderbergh's name, my scattered brain made an assumption.) As it turns out, Soderbergh is only an executive producer on this film. (Along with Jeff Skoll, Ben Cosgrove, George Clooney, and Georgia Kacandes.) The writer and director is actually Stephen Gaghan (who was Soderbergh's screenwriter for Traffic).

The point is that I went to see Syriana because I thought it was directed by Steven Soderbergh... And although it looked, sounded, felt and flowed like a Soderbergh movie, it wasn't. (In hindsight, the flat narrative should have been my first clue.)

I got suckered. Shame on me, sure, but I got suckered nonetheless.

Walking out of a movie (no matter how good) and then realizing that you've been duped isn't cool.

Aside from the Soderbergh thing, check out the trailer on the official site by clicking here (or on the image above). What does the trailer promise? A pulse-pounding thriller. Action. Suspense. Thrills. It's a great trailer.

... Only... the movie isn't exciting. Your pulse will never clock 90. There's no suspense. It's a great flick, don't get me wrong, but it isn't the movie that the trailer is trying to sell you. If you go see this movie expecting it to be like the trailer, you will be sorely disappointed.


Along the same lines, how many people will go see "Quentin Tarantino presents Hostel" because they think it's a Tarantino film? (Being executive producer doesn't mean squat.) The director (Eli Roth) only has one other movie to his name, and it's Cabin Fever. (Arguably the worst movie ever made. If you don't believe me, convince someone you don't like to rent it for you, and watch it. You'll never get those 94 minutes back, but at least, you'll have the satisfaction of not having wasted four bucks.)

In other words, in spite of what the campaign pushing this movie would have you believe, don't expect "Pulp Fiction" meets "Saw II".

You can't sell one thing and deliver another. Contextual bait & switch is just lame.

A word of warning to everyone in the marketing world: Whether you're advertising movies, music, cars, burgers, sportswear or prescription medication, be careful not to extend your creative license further than your customers' expectations will stretch.

Even if you aren't technically guilty of false advertising, even if your product ends up being great, engaging in these kinds of tactics is still slimy. The end doesn't justify the means.

There's a right way to do this. Tricking customers isn't it.

0 Responses to “Promises, Promises...”

Leave a Reply

      Convert to boldConvert to italicConvert to link


ATOM 0.3

  • Helping companies fine-tune their:
  • - Relationship with their customers
  • - Branding and marketing strategies
  • - Communications architecture
  • - Reputations and buzz-worthiness
  • - Creativity and market relevance
  • Office: 864.289.4557
  • Mobile: 510.284.9893
  • Bat Phone: 864.630.7398
  • My status
  • email me
  • View Olivier Blanchard's profile on LinkedIn
    • follow me on Twitter

      TwitterCounter for @nextweblog

    • Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not necessarily those of SYNNEX or any of its affiliates and partners.
    • Subscribe to the BrandBuilder blog

  • Previous posts

    Previous posts

    ATOM 0.3
    This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from Bidulos. Make your own badge here.