Monday, May 23, 2011

My Highest Ad Campaign Rating Ever: Not Terrible

I've been under pressure lately to blog about some billboards that I actually like. Wha--? Me? Negative? As my father often exclaims to express his disbelief, "The hell you say!"

Actually, a few gems have caught my eye in the last few weeks, the nearest release of them being the next chapter in the popular "Pirates" series, Pirates of the Caribbean: Something About Mermaids or Some Bullshit.

I truly do prefer to discuss billboards, as opposed to posters (or 'one-sheets,' as we call them in the biz), because what interests me is not the design of a single poster, but the entire print advertising campaign a studio decides to put forth. I am not usually able to find images of billboards, but in this case I was able get the one most often used in the PotC: OST campaign.

Click to embiggen.
A nice smattering of piratey motifs, no? Let me start my first 'good' review by expressing that I am not a designer, I have not taken any sort of visual arts class since high school, and that I can only tell you what appeals to me personally. That said, I do like this. This billboard does one of my favorite things: filling the frame without being too busy (other good examples include the billboard versions of The Legend of the Guardians and Transformers: Revenge Blah Blah Blah, as well as these for Yogi Bear, which certainly push the 'too busy' line, but I think they make it work). As you can tell, I also like color. This campaign has a good scheme going and narrowly avoids the orange/blue contrast so prevalent in film advertising, opting instead for the daring yellow/blue.

Another thing I like about this one: no tagline, no title. Very few films have the brand recognition to advertise sans title, and if they do, will often stick to the number of the sequel in the franchise's trademark font. Seems like half the movies that come out these days are titled simply "2" or "3" <-- (lol). On Stranger Tides is a 4, and for advertising purposes has decided to forgo a title altogether. On TV spots for this film, you'll only hear it referred to as "Pirates of the Caribbean." (By this point, many franchises do attempt an in-series reboot by dropping the number and returning to the original title. See: Fast and FuriousTHE Final Destination, Rocky Balboa, and Rambo.) What we get instead is a skull and crossswords, but you don't really need anything besides Captain Jack, who is probably the most recognizable original character since Darth Vader (or is there another?).

The one-sheets for PotC: OST are much more derivative, but still, not terrible. Except for this giant skull, which was featured on Disney's exclusive spot on the side of the Westwood Medical building, it's all character posters.



Penelope Cruz as some girl with swords,

And I actually did see this mermaid on a bus stop.

Click through to see how stupid these scales are.
Can anyone tell me what's the deal with the fact that her scales crossfade into skin?! What kind of freaky mermaid is that? If you touched the part that's half scales/half skin, what would that feel like? I mean, I can see going for some type of transition between skin and scales, where it's like scale-ish skin, but to go for a straight up visual fade between the two? I'm sorry, is this West Handkerchief High School's AV club or Walt Disney Studios and one of the most successful franchises of all time? Put your back into it a little bit.

Also, what's the deal with mermaids always having knees? That's ridiculous.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I honestly can't decide what I hate most about this.

Sometimes you think you've reached your capacity for hating a certain thing, say, the movie Zookeeper after seeing a TV spot for it. Then something else comes along to make you realize, no, you have much much more capacity to hate that thing, say, this poster.

This is an image of Kevin James riding a roller coaster with a gorilla.
My, what harsh shadows are cast on the roller coaster's yellow harness, yet what soft light has fallen on the zookeeper and his gorilla! So, I don't want to become the "bad photoshop guy," in fact, I don't even know how to use photoshop. Seriously though, you guys know that it's better if your poster doesn't look like complete shit, right? Compared to the shadows on his hands, his chest and face look like a cardboard cutout! Also there's a gorilla riding a roller coaster.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The THOR posters are really terrible.

Boy was the ad campaign for Thor a swing and a miss. Well, it was more like a bunt and a miss.

This is what Thor, the comic book character, looks like.

On a cliff.
Summoning lightning.
On a cliff summoning lightning.
Knowing pretty much nothing about Thor, and I truly don't, it's pretty easy to discern a few things about him: he has a hammer, he is apparently on good terms with lightning, and he has a penchant for hoisting his hammer and being struck by lightning, as well as standing on rocky crags.

Now lets move from this fairly standard image of Thor in the comics, to the one-sheet of his very own movie.


Let's go right past the obvious, (Nickelback cover band frontman) and straight to the humongous missed opportunity of a completely badass ad campaign. I imagine it probably shook out something like this:

Young creative: So, I was thinking we could pose Thor on top of a cliff, have him hoist his hammer in the air, and do some cool lightning effects that will really show off the great costume we've created. I think it will make our posters and ad campaign really pop, and give people who have never heard of Thor a good idea of how exciting this movie is going to be.

Studio exec: Well, you're obviously fired.

Young creative: What?

Studio exec: Yeah, get out. Immediately. So.....I've been seeing lots of these posters with close ups of characters' faces with words over them. Can we do something like that?

Sniveling yes men: Great idea, boss! Knocked it out the park!

Studio exec: And while we're at it, lets do it all in red and black, so you can't see what's going on or tell anything about what the movie is about or who the characters are.

Sniveling yes men: He's done it again!

Studio exec: And don't let him wear that silly hat with the wings on it. Make him look like a construction worker. Middle America doesn't want wing hats. Trust me.

More gems from this campaign:

Still too colorful!
No no no! I can almost tell he has a helmet on!

Did you ask if we could just put them in t-shirts? Branagh said no? Okay, print it.