March 18, 2015

Ingenious Event Marketing Breaks The Fourth Wall

I’ve had a serious case of fatigue with event marketing (particularly pertaining to movie/music releases) of late. It seems like the default approach is to simply try to saturate the media with a copious quantity of slightly varying ads — and as a general rule I’ve found that the more bombardment with social promotions, trailers, teasers about release dates, the worse the product tends to be. It feels too much like a hard sell, and, to be frank, a cop out.

Not so with two recent examples of note. To say my head perked up at the inspired promotion of Zoolander 2 with “Derek Zoolander” and “Hansel” strutting the catwalk at Paris Fashion week, and the tongue-in-cheek office stock photo collection released featuring the cast of Vince Vaughn’s new flick Unfinished Business would be an understatement. These two marketing campaigns subvert the traditional channels for event marketing ingeniously; with results so memorable they’re being talked about long after the fact.

By contextually inserting themselves into the real world iterations of the respective topics addressed by their movies — satirical commentary on the fashion industry for Zoolander and parody of corporate America in Unfinished Business — they’re connecting on a more authentic level with audiences. They’re breaking the fourth wall and taking characters with cult status (in this case I think Vaughn qualifies as a character himself) beyond their respective static worlds and into “reality” with a playful wink at the audience. Not only does this appeal because it feels like an inside joke or an insider secret you’re being let in on, instead of a hard sell, but it’s also simply an instant breath of fresh air.

Granted, the above examples lend themselves to this kind of hilarious (mis) appropriation, but I think that belies a larger point: Audiences don’t like dumbed-down marketing on repeat, as if by hypnosis the “SEE THIS! BUY THIS!” message will sink in. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills! It’s a disservice to underestimate the power in assuming a little more capacity for appreciation of the art of subtlety. Marketers: Content creation need no longer be limited to endlessly replayed and reused commercials and social content. There’s an opportunity to opt out of the shotgun approach, and instead find places where it makes sense for your product or brand to be and find a clever way to position it in those places.