Archive for June, 2010

What is Knight and Day About?: Different Marketing Campaigns For One Movie

June 3, 2010

Knight and Day, the new Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz vehicle, is coming out on June 25 and one thing’s for sure, the studio has no idea how to market it.

So far, there’s been three different television ad campaigns (not including the official trailer), each presenting an entirely different movie.

Commercial 1

The first set of commercials came out in early April. Two months before the movie was set for release, ads for Knight and Day were constantly on television. These spots cast something of a wide net for an audience and were kind of successful at it.

This ad give the audience a pretty decent idea of what the movie is about and the over-the-top fun tone the movie is trying to achieve.

Cameron Diaz has a meet-cute with Tom Cruise on a plane but Tom Cruise is some sort of secret agent/spy. Cruise finds Diaz and they go on zany misadventures together. Diaz starts off as a fish out of water (like any average person suddenly finding themselves in firefights at exotic locales) and then, after some personal and emotional growth, is shooting at villains from a motorcycle.

While it might be unfair to say that both stars have been in a career slump over the past few years, clearly they aren’t at their previous heights. But the original set of ads made Cruise and Diaz look back in the elements where they were most successful. Tom Cruise is a charming, fun, wild card, action hero flashing his world-renowned smile. Cameron Diaz is a daffy dame in over her head and gets to indulge the nervous-goofy side that made her an A-lister.

It’s romance-comedy-action-fun. It’s the type of movie you can imagine suburban people going to on date night.

After playing for nearly a month, out of nowhere, the ads completely disappear. Then the ads comes back where Katherine Heigl has a meet-cute with Ashton Kutcher (or maybe they’re married) but Kutcher is some sort of secret agent/spy. Kutcher takes Heigl on zany misadventures together. Heigl starts as a fish out of water (like any normal person suddenly finding themselves in firefights at exotic locales) and then, after some personal and emotional growth, is shooting at villains from a car.

Wait, that’s Killers (coming out this Friday), which is seemingly essentially the same movie as Knight and Day which is essentially the same movie as True Lies.


Sure Looks Wacky

The next question that emerges is whether Knight and Day pulled its advertisements as not to compete with Killers? If so, why?

Tom Cruise, for all his faux pas and flops, is (best I can figure) a much bigger star than Ashton Kutcher- unless digital camera commercials and Twitter followers are the true measure of a celebrity. (NOTE: Kutcher’s last major starring role was actually with Diaz in 2008’s What Happens in Vegas. To find the last movie that he actually carried, you’d probably have to go back to 2005’s A Lot Like Love (depending how high a regard you place on Amanda Peet) or 2004’s The Butterfly Effect; neither of which would be considered major hits.)

Cameron Diaz v. Katherine Heigl is a harder decision. My personal belief is that Cameron Diaz is a bigger star. I’m relatively sure Diaz is more well known. She’s been in bigger movies (There’s Something About Mary) and better movies (Being John Malkovich) than Heigl. But Heigl has maneuvered her way to become the latest romantic comedy queen. Knocked Up made $150 million (all box office totals are domestic), though much of that probably came from the Rogen/Apatow contingent. 27 Dresses made $80 million and The Ugly Truth made close to $90 million. While those figures might not seem that impressive in these days of $100 million opening weekends, it’s very impressive for the chick-led romantic comedy. (Comparatively, Jennifer Lopez’ The Back-Up Plan has made $40 million and the Amy Adams-led Leap Year only made $26 million.) (Even more comparatively, Diaz’ The Box made $15 million and My Sister’s Keeper made $49 million. Diaz/Kutcher’s What Happens In Vegas surprisingly made $80 million.)

If Heigl keeps this up, in ten years she can win an Oscar (provided she gets a hackneyed script where she puts on a Southern accent and takes up a cause like a slow, underprivileged minority sports player, a poor town’s class action suit, or a drug addict country singer). But Jennifer Aniston will probably get there next.

How To Win an Oscar

Commercial 2

The second commercial (which I cannot find on YouTube) came at the start or middle of May. They start with Diaz standing on a hotel balcony overlooking some foreign-looking city while Cruise flirts with her from an adjoining balcony. The ads, at this point, focus exclusively on Diaz- except now she’s an action-hero/spy with powers and abilities equal to Cruise. No longer is she the wacky broad but, like the armor plated Warrior Princess Maid Maiden in the Robin Hood commercials, someone who can fight and kick ass like the boys. The comedy angle is completely removed. The romantic aspect went from cute to sexual, think more like Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Commercial 3

That leads us to commercial three (which I also cannot find on YouTube) that have started playing over the past couple of days.

This one begins with Tom Cruise narrating about how he’s been framed for a crime (or something) he didn’t commit and is now caught in an elaborate government conspiracy. This is follow with scenes of him acting like Jason Bourne rather than the borderline-superhero in the original set of advertisements.

Cameron Diaz is no longer the girl who freaks out during the “1-2-3” countdown. She, apparently, is the key to all the answers behind Cruise’s situation. Diaz and Cruise are even seen together discussing something in front of a giant white board covered with equations. Like Commercial 2, she is equally as capable a fighter as Cruise. However, this time both the romantic and comedy angles are eliminated.

Why The Change?

I don’t know. To avoid comparison to Killers is the answer that might make the most sense but even that lacks logic, as explained above. If it’s to appeal to even more people (i.e. Commercial 2 for the ladies; Commercial 3 for the guys), Commercial 1 did the job better while offering both genders what the marketers think (probably rightfully so) that they are looking for in a film. I don’t know if the new ads are shorter than the first one (i.e. less time per ad= less to pay for an ad= different ads to appeal to different demographics) but it might be a possibility. The biggest question now is what will Commercial 4 be?