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Marketing the Media

March 8, 2010

For all their self-aware humor this year, the Oscars will never own up to the fact that one unhonored function essential to the success of every Hollywood movie is marketing.  So, for the sake of honesty, let’s pick up where Hollywood left off and honor one side of the town that has just as much creativity as the other…well, at least as much potential creativity…

Every award-winning film needs a trailer to get people interested in the first place, but sometimes they can fail to give a movie the unique shine they deserve.

Maybe the problem is that tw0-and-a-half minutes are too little time to convey the unique qualities that comprise a film.  But then think about how the mind-boggling task of distilling a movie into a single tagline that simultaneously captures attention and interest while communicating a premise or a plot without giving away too much.  A recipe for disaster or brilliance?  What would your pick be for the best Hollywood movie tagline (out of 66 “nominated” by virtue of this page’s selection)?  Here are a few suggestions:

The 40 Year Old Virgin: “The longer you wait, the harder it gets.”

Army of Darkness: “Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas.”

Dumb and Dumber: “For Harry and Lloyd, every day is a no-brainer.”

A Fish Called Wanda: “A tale of murder, lust, greed, revenge, and seafood.”

This Is Spinal Tap: “Does for rock and roll what ‘The Sound of Music’ did for hills.”

And how about some tagline Razzies for the ones that just totally botch the actual content of the movie?  E.g.,

The Big Lebowski: “Her life was in their hands. Now her toe is in the mail.”

Full Metal Jacket: “Vietnam can kill me, but it can’t make me care.”

The Matrix: “Reality is a thing of the past.”

Saw 2: “Oh yes, there will be blood.”

House of Wax: “On May 6th … see Paris die!”

Ok, I guess that last one was actually both accurate and the smartest way to sell the movie. Regardless, taglines are impressive feats of careful writing.  It’s tempting to attribute the wit of the better-crafted lines to the latent strictures of brevity, but let’s not sell the enterprise short.

Then again, as Jay Leno’s Hulu tags suggest, maybe the most informative and entertaining “advertising” still lies in the words the crowd uses to describe the media.

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