What if…we did the publicity for the Watchmen film?


New films come out every day (mostly at a rate of more than one a day too) and we’re constantly bombarded by their advertising jockeying for position. Every now and again a film appears – at least on the release lists – that commands a fair bit more attention than the average. These are the ones that make you sit up and take notice and one such cinematic offering has just come into view on the horizon. Naturally we have taken some time to think about how we might have promoted the release should we have been given the gig.

First, some background. The film we’ll be talking about is called Watchmen and is an adaptation of the only graphic novel to have appeared in Time magazine’s Top 100 novels of the century. It is also the only graphic novel to have won the Hugo Award and is generally regarded as (and we quote), “the most celebrated graphic novel of all time”. It is, as you can see, something of a big deal…

So, to promotion.

Initial promotion would begin on the ground some months before its March 2009 release and would commence with a graffiti campaign. Graffiti has particular relevance in Watchmen and so this would be entirely fitting. A recurring theme within the novel is the sighting of graffiti reading, “Who Watches The Watchmen?” (the novel itself is a journey into the lives of some very real, very human superheroes in the run up to a nuclear conflict) daubed over the walls of various cities. It would seem only prudent to activate any promotional campaign with the placing of this selfsame phrase across walls and buildings throughout major cities in the UK.

We would follow this by returning to the areas graffitied two weeks later and redoing the strapline – but this time adding the release date below.

At this point we would start engaging in secondary activity. This would, in the first instance, be based around one of the novel’s iconic images – that of a smiley face badge with a drop of blood on it. We would hire a blimp and drop thousands of these badges (attached to smiley faced balloons emblazoned with the release date on the reverse) in strategic locations. We would also return to the graffiti theme with the addition of the bloody smiley face to locations in major cities around the UK – and here we would be going for big.

The third phase of our activity would be to start staging “appearances” by one of the novel’s most recognisable characters – the bright blue superhero Dr. Manhattan (we won’t go into the how’s and why’s but he is the novel’s only character with genuine superpowers – and these are virtually limitless. He is, in essence, a god). This would require a fair bit of technology to stage…but the technology is out there and is capable of the following scenarios.

We would begin by projecting immense images on buildings at night. Initially these would be static, but as time went on in the campaign they would start to involve moving images and the projection of release dates also. This activity arc would go on for some weeks before we moved into the ultimate stage of the campaign.

This would take the form of projecting immense images of both Dr. Manhattan’s face and the bloody smiley face logo onto clouds in the night sky. These would alternate with the release date being projected with the original strapline attached. This activity would take place over several nights before the release date.

It’s fair to say that this wouldn’t be the cheapest of campaigns – at least not in the later stages – but it is one we think that would certainly catch public attention and attract much media comment. Another job done then…

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