How do you promote a movie or television series in 2018? The big problem with our current fragmented media landscape is that the days when you could just stick an ad for your new show in front of your old show and say “job done” are largely over.
Think about where you see movie trailers: these days they’re promoted as online events, rather than the ad you yawn through waiting for the feature film to start. Which means that while the big trailers for big films get the big coverage – think of the recent trailer for the upcoming Star Wars spin-off Solo – anything less obviously “big news” sinks without trace. Which is a shame, and not just in terms of advertising: trailers are not only entertaining in their own right, they can often be more entertaining than the finished film. For example, the recent blu-ray release from Umbrella, Drive-In Delirum: The New Batch is the most recent addition to their long-running collection of classic trashy movie trailers from the 60s, 70s and 80s. A lot of these movies you’ve probably never heard of (or have never heard anything good about) – they’re largely action movies, horror flicks and the occasional sexy tale of sexiness – but in tightly edited two- and three- minute trailers these B-movies become A-grade entertainment. Sure, they’re designed to sell you on seeing the finished film; that’s why they have all the good bits. And if you’ve ever suspected that a lot of movies would work a whole lot better if they were cut down to a handful of big moments… well, this definitely isn’t going to persuade you otherwise.
This collection’s a highly entertaining salute to a time when pretty much the only way to advertise a movie was at the beginning of another movie, when producers didn’t have to worry about advance word or snarky posts trashing their trashy film, and when spoilers didn’t matter because you’d put all the best moments in the trailer anyway.
In contrast, season one of US sitcom The Good Place is now out locally on DVD, and it poses a very different question: how do you promote a series’ first season when the second season has just wrapped in the US? Without giving too much away, it’s safe to say that The Good Place is a sitcom that’s proven itself more than capable of burning through a lot of plot twists and turns; as that’s become a lot of the appeal of the show, promoting its’ early days is promoting a show that it rapidly leaves behind.
Fortunately, the early days make for very funny viewing. When Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) wakes up in the afterlife, she’s more than a little surprised to find herself in “The Good Place” – her dodgy life should have made her a prime candidate for the downstairs department. She rapidly figures out that she’d better become a good person before Michael (Ted Danson), the being overseeing The Good Place, figures out a mistake’s been made, and so she persuades University Ethics professor Chidi (William Jackson Harper) to help her lift her game. The Good Place is delightfully offbeat, the cast of heavenly misfits rapidly settle in, and Danson is a comedy titan for a reason; if this was a trailer, that’s all you’d be getting.
By Anthony Morris