Alistairm's Blog

Marketing Case Study – Cloverfield

Posted in Uncategorized by alistairm on November 22, 2009

Cloverfield is an American monster film, produced by Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot Productions, directed by J.J Abbrams. The film was marketed in several ways such as film posters; trailers; viral marketing campaigns and interviews. The film is about 5 New York residents who go to a party on the night of a monster attack. The film is known for its shakey camera style of cinematography.

Usually, nameable actors are clearly listed on a film poster, this helps to attribute and sell films based on cast. Cloverfield however was unable to do this due to it’s lack of nameable actors hence character posters weren’t made and the film was marketed in several other methods.

Film Posters

This teaser poster is a successful as a marketing device. Several characteristics of the poster hint towards a monster attack, such as the claw mark in and the decapitation of the Statue of Liberty; these attributes give viewers a notion as to what the film will be about. The poster also pertains 9/11 allusions which inspired criticism but didn’t hinder the film’s success. The image of the stirring water and the ravaged city scape are characteristics of Apocalyptic sci-fi films along with blurred font of the title, which is typical of the sci-fi genre. The tag-line ‘Some thing has found us’ tells us clearly that it is an entity which is the threat however the identity of the threat still remains concealed which is successful in making the film even more desirable to watch.

This teaser poster portrays the notorious monster as a shadow. It is an excellent marketing device as viewers want to unconceal the monster’s identity because of the monstrous characteristics and the obscurity of the shadow. The caption ‘hide’ emphasises the danger associated with the unrevealed monster. The information on the poster is minimal however the film is recognisable by the distinctive monster’s shadow. The film was yet to be named when this poster was produced.

Viral Marketing

A number of sites were created in order to market the film, reportedly only one of them was official ( This interactive site provided potential viewers the ability to decipher the storyline prior to the release. This site would have been a successful marketing device as it would be cheaper to produce than an advertisement and would spread quickly throughout the internet because of the popularity of the film, eventually spreading to those who had not heard of the film via social networking.

Media was distributed when was created. This provided viewers a trailer and a number which, when texted, provided a phone wallpaper of a destroyed Manhattan and a ring tone of the monster’s distinctive roar. These are effective marketing devices as the distinctive roar would spread quickly through a ring tone, and it provides another means of advertising, outside of film posters, websites and trailers.  A ‘widget’ was placed on the site which could be linked in any mainstream social networking site. This ‘widget’ was a brief snippet of the film. A competition arose whereby a user would post the widget on his/her favorite social networking site and, based on the amount of clicks, could win a screening of the movie. This worked as an effective marketing device as the snippet would be spread around the internet and viewed by the vast majority of social networking users. The site also provided a vague synopsis of the film which worked as a marketing device by not providing the reader sufficient information, making them eager to find out.

Susho!,a drinks company, provided images relating to the film of sonar images of a monster heading towards Manhattan. This is effective in advertising both Cloverfield and the company so the advertisement would be inexpensive.


The synergy of film producers allowed them to wide-scale advertise the film as the first trailer was debuted in front of Transformers, which was a summer blockbuster. It was later placed on This trailer provided little insight into the film and the film was still yet to be named, but avid fans scoured the internet in attempt to find any traces of the film hence the success of the viral marketing sites. A second trailer was released which was more of a conventional than the prior. The second trailer, debutted in front of Beowulf (another blockbuster), provided more insight than the ambiguous film posters and other forms of media. This shed light on the shaky-camera style which was incorporated. The use of cliff-hanging moments during the trailer and the distorted story line helps create suspense and entices further viewing. The decimated Manhattan setting portrayed in the trailer helps create an ambience for the film to follow on. The second trailer presented the core group of characters in which we’d follow, fans by this time would know that the film didn’t contain any stars but the success of the film wasn’t hindered by this.


The viral campaigns and the obscurity of advertisement (until the release) inspired fan scrutiny, whereby fans would feel compelled to see the film solely because they spent so much time deciphering the plot of the film. The marketing of the film is very effective and typical of JJ Abbrams in the way that the plot line is distorted as to avoid any spoilers prior to the film’s release.


Genre Case Study – Sci-fi

Posted in Uncategorized by alistairm on November 9, 2009

Sci-fi, or science-fiction, is a genre which is difficult to characterise due to the immense variations in the genre, Damon Knight summed up the difficulty by stating that “science fiction is what we point to when we say it”. Generally, sci-fi films depict an advanced frontier of knowledge or time which the present day has not yet reached. Realistic speculation contributes to the iconography of the genre such as portrayals of future civilisations and of outer space colonisation, such as Dune and the Star Trek franchise. Other common depictions include technological advances such as time travel (Time Traveler’s Wife), Seemingly impossible space travel, such as ‘lightspeed’ depicted on Star Wars and highly advanced common day amenities such as hover cars (The Fifth Element) and nanotechnology such as identity chips, of which are portrayed regularly in dystopian sci-fi’s. Psionic abilities, such as telekinesis and  telepathy is a recurrent theme in sci-fi; The Shining being an example of extraordinary powers.

Sci-fi is easily recognised as a genre through the quasi-scientific iconography, an enhanced or distorted depiction of reality or even a present-day natural disaster. Dystopian societies such as the film adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four and A Clockwork Orange are less easily recognised as sci-fi but are attributed as social sci-fi which concerns itself with human behaviour and development in the long run rather than technological and astrological advancements, this deviates from the commonly displayed Hard sci-fi however shares similarities with Soft sci-fi which, rather than having speculative ideas of the future, use less evidence based facts.

Science-fiction protagonists are often portrayed as heroic (Armageddon), Rebellious(The Matrix) or just curious (The Time Machine). Heroic protagonists are commonly depicted as an anti-disaster force or a figurehead of a revolt in a dystopian society, similarly to that of a rebellious protagonist. The Time Machine hosts a typical soft sci-fi protagonist, a scientist whom creates a time machine to try save his late girlfriend.

Authors of sci-fi often incorporate social themes into the plot line. An example of this is global warming, which was depicted in The Day After Tomorrow as a result of increased social alarm of the situation. A more recent example is the 2012 conspiracy being incorporated into a film. These immediate apocalyptic sci-fi’s are criticised by scientists, claiming that they contribute to common anxiety.

Sci-fi is generally a more open genre that has seen large commercial success (2001 Space Odyssey). The genre will continue to expand with new concepts deriving from fundamental sciences and social studies to amaze, shock and scare the viewer


Common depiction of UFO