Top 5: Irritating and overused techniques in blockbuster movie marketing

The movie marketing for Prometheus was an example of many annoying trends
The movie marketing for Prometheus was an example of many trends

In the increasingly saturated movie market, it’s of paramount importance to create buzz around a film in the lead up to its release. Unfortunately, this advertising urgency has given rise to a number of very irritating trends in movie marketing that seem to occur again and again.

Below are five of the worst.

5. The ‘Inception Horn’

First appearing notably as part of Hans Zimmer’s great score for Inception, this particular sound has become a regular fixture of blockbuster trailers over the last few years, along with other close relatives. Prometheus released millions of trailers featuring the noise and it has been used and abused by just about every single major release that wants to appear dark and mysterious (see the supercut above).

It was a nice movie marketing technique when it first became popular, but now its use just seems lazy and unimaginative.


4. Identical promo images

Promotional image for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
The Harry Potter saga released hundreds of promo images online

This is something that big franchises find it almost impossible to avoid. I remember the gaps between Twilight and Harry Potter films being full to bursting with near identical images of characters doing things that weren’t especially interesting. First, there was Daniel Radcliffe looking concerned, then Emma Watson looking concerned, then the entire trio looking concerned. It just didn’t stop. We got the message long ago.

Of all of the movie marketing techniques on this list, this is the one caused most by movie news and gossip websites. Studios know that if they continue to release these images, the websites will continue to report them and the buzz is consistent.

They could at least try to show something interesting though.


3. Character posters

Series of character posters for comedy superhero sequel Kick-Ass 2
Kick-Ass 2 had an eclectic cast, almost all of whom got their own poster

It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment at which movie marketing teams decided that every character in a film had to have their own poster. Whole walls of multiplex cinemas are covered in images of every single character that appears in a film, regardless of how tiny their role. Helena Bonham Carter only got a few scenes in The Lone Ranger, but she sure as hell got her own character poster.

Similar to the promo image trend above, the constant flow of posters is just another way to keep the internet talking about a film and is a clear sign that studios have little or no imagination. There’s no need for every character to have a poster and any new material released around a film should at least be interesting.

To see this movie marketing technique done right, check out these great one sheets for The World’s End. It takes the boring status quo and does something interesting to actually tell the audience about the characters.


2. Motion posters

Still from the 2013 remake of horror classic Carrie
The upcoming Carrie remake has a particularly poor motion poster

This one is also completely the internet’s fault. Apparently, as well as a million different posters and bland promotional images for films, we also need uninteresting, looping GIFs as well. They only really discovered popularity last year, but have been hugely popular this year as well and really reached their nadir with the messy clips montage for the Carrie remake.

Often, as in the case of Star Trek Into Darkness, these are just a way of releasing a teaser trailer (see below) without actually releasing a teaser trailer. It’s yet another lazy way of providing movie news sites with a constant stream of content and is the ultimate example of using technology just for the sake of it.

Please stop.

1. Trailers for trailers

Trailers for Ridley Scott's Prometheus were unavoidable
Trailers for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus were unavoidable

Step forward Prometheus. No film in my memory has ever received as many promotional videos as Ridley Scott’s sci-fi prequel. But before audiences can have a trailer, they have to have a shorter teaser that explains when the trailer will be released.

Sci-fi masterpiece Looper also experienced this fate and it seems that this is here to stay. It is increasingly becoming nearly impossible to see a film without being exposed to almost all of its footage during the publicity campaign. Movie marketing is showing us too much, and it needs to bring secrecy back.

Do you agree that all of these movie marketing techniques are overused? Are there any other trends that you think deserve a place on this list? Let us know in the comments section below.

5 thoughts on “Top 5: Irritating and overused techniques in blockbuster movie marketing

  • 30/08/2013 at 22:47

    Uh oh. Lolol. Oh nooo….lol. (Haven’t read it yet, I just think it’s funny that in making and marketing a film you can go wrong and wrong, no matter how large the budget.)

  • 30/08/2013 at 22:52

    Lol. I agree and agree concerning your last line. Great piece!!!!

  • 30/08/2013 at 22:53

    Reblogged this on Archaic Sugar and commented:
    “Movie marketing is showing us too much, and it needs to bring secrecy back.” (Is he right or what?)

  • 01/09/2013 at 13:41

    Very good list. I agree that these techniques all are overused, especially teaser trailers. I am also always annoyed to see trailers which end up to be 100 per cent better than the films. That’s the new trend ‘let’s make a trailer which cannot compare in quality to the film’. Back in the day trailers reflected more the true essence of the movies, now it’s just fraud 🙂

    • 01/09/2013 at 18:35

      I find that horror films are especially guilty of that. It’s got to the point now where it’s almost a rule that a good horror trailer means a bad horror film.


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