San Diego Comic Con 2014 is in full swing, and the Internet is a buzz with all things Benedict Cumberbatch, Marvel, Hobbit-y, Game of Thrones-y and oh yeah– Lionsgate-y. I’m one of the sad few who is not attending the convention, and frankly will probably never attend, because crowds of that magnitude give me the heebie-jeebies, and trust me when I say this– you don’t want to be around me when I have the heebie-jeebies. Anywho, Comic-Con is a place of fandom-wide fun and excitement, and just all out nerd-gasmic heaven.
Y’all like cupcakes, right? I betcha do! Why not, they’re delicious, and fluffy, and if they’re made right they are moist (not in the naughty way), and light, and put a smile on your face with their fondant, and they’re butter cream goodness. Lionsgate apparently likes cupcakes too, or baked goods if we’re speaking in broad terms. I know this because this weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, part of the fun and festivities are baked goods, including cupcakes. That’s right folks, they have a sleek-looking, Capitol-esque bakery set up on display for the burgeoning public to ooh and ah over. This is awesome for all intents and purposes, ’cause everyone and their glutton tolerant aunt likes some free baked goods every now and again. The only fly in the ointment of this sweet, little gesture is the slightly glaring fact that who ever, or whatever marketing firm chose the designs for some of these goods, well– stole them.
That’s right folks, I just used the S word, and it’s not the shit kind. Nope, I call foul on who ever, or whatever person, or group of people who decided stealing other people’s ideas is an acceptable business practice!
Crystal Watanabe has been a staple in this fandom for years, she’s involved more than a random fan as well– and on top of that she’s got more than a life outside of her endeavors involving The Hunger Games. Crystal used to pretty much run Mockingjay.net, now she’s the founder, and head at Jabberjays.net. Crystal is a master at bento, as well as artisan baking. Which brings me to the previously used S word. Crystal’s designs for two Effie Trinket themed cupcakes are being used without her permission right now at one of the biggest entertainment themed conventions in the world, and all of this is going down without what’s probably most important– credit where credit is due.
I’m just going to say it, but this is not cool! I know that the big guys on top of the money-making machines that supposedly dictate our lives, wholly believe that taking a “little persons” ideas and shilling them as their own, is acceptable. But damn it all to hell– it’s not! I know they’re just cupcakes, but even cupcake designs are things that deserve to be credited to the originator, the designer– who in this case is Crystal Watanabe.
So Hunger Games fandom, if you think it’s cool to steal other people’s ideas– by all means eat up. But if you don’t– say something, that’s what the Internet is for– other than porn of course. This credit issue could be easily remedied with a simple piece of card stock going up on display in that bakery set up. Simple, concise and easy, because this is potential revenue lost to an artist.
Effie Trinket cupcakes designed by Crystal Watanabe of Fictionalfood.net.
Them There Eyes
Yesterday at Comic Con, I was following the tweets coming out of the Community panel. Community is a smart, irreverent tv comedy set at a community college (with very questionable academic credentials). The clever writing and pop culture in-jokes meant it attracted only a niche audience. It’s never had high ratings, but has a very engaged, social-media savvy viewership. With low ratings, every season the show has been threatened with cancellation. And this year, it actually was cancelled by NBC, only to be later (and kind of miraculously) picked up for another season by Yahoo Screen.
To help keep the show running for five seasons despite the low ratings, the show engaged in some very overt product placement with Subway. Subway featured heavily in an episode in Season Three where the story had A MAN AGREEING TO LEGALLY CHANGE HIS NAME TO SUBWAY to “collectively show the humanity of business owners” and win over the public. It was a hilarious episode, that made fun of corporate sponsorship and big companies hurting the little guy while itself being hugely overt product placement. The humor was still very much in line with what Community was known for, so it was a great fit. In season five, Subway again featured in the story (as the villain) as they buy the college in an attempt to turn it into a “Sandwich University.”
Now, fans could have been unhappy about Community “selling out” but they actually embraced this move and actively supported the business. Subway has done a lot of placements with television shows, and they’ve been really smart about it. With Community, Subway entered into the agreement understanding the show, who the fans were, and were happy to play along and be in on the joke. And because Community was struggling with lower ratings, the fans appreciated the advertising support from the company to keep the show on the air.
As Hunger Games fans, we’re familiar with Subway’s partnership last year during Catching Fire. Tying in a restaurant chain with the Hunger Games is a tough fit, but awkward as it was, I gave it a pass. Yes, it was silly to see commercials with Katniss & Peeta on the flaming chariot with Subway talking about fiery sriracha sandwiches, but they did at least try to tie in some charitable efforts to help with hunger. That helped. It was still odd, but I understand the modern movie marketing need to have some of these type of deals. If you wanted to go to Subway, see the Katniss standee and ask for a Peeta cup, you could.
Now we move on to the first major “partnership” for Mockingjay Part 1 with Samsung. A week ago, it was announced that Samsung would be launching an app on their most expensive phones and tablets with exclusive Mockingjay content. Which is lame if you don’t have the most expensive Samsung phones and tablets, but that part, again, didn’t get me too heated because once the app is in the hands of millions of people, everything will end up on the internet about a minute after they are released. Have your silly exclusive on a couple stills for that one minute, Samsung. You’re creating a block in distribution, but fans can subvert that easily enough.
What fans really do care about are the big, meaty, content releases, like trailer releases. So the offensive aspect of this partnership was how it affected the long awaited trailer release. We all pretty much assumed the trailer would release at Comic Con, though we were hoping it would be a repeat of last year. With a fabulous Hall H panel and the debuting of the trailer on a huge screen for maximum impact. Seems Hall H was not to be this year, so instead Lionsgate chose to sell Samsung the trailer to display on their tablets at either their very Capitol-stylized Hard Rock Hotel near SDCC or over the weekend at their “store within a store” Samsung Galaxy Experience areas at select Best Buys. So for about 3 days, Samsung is holding on to this trailer and keeping it from most fans.
Yes, Samsung decided that with this co-branding they would force people to go and touch/use their products to see the trailer. Samsung could still have gotten advertising exposure for an online trailer debut (and maybe they still will) with a Samsung Galaxy ad before the trailer, or a logo skin around the media player for the release on Lionsgate’s featured online distribution method. They could have done that, and not pissed off the vast majority of fans. Yet, they decided to disrupt the online trailer release and create a whole Capitol-esque privileged class of those with the means to buy into their system and see it early versus those in the Districts who either don’t have one of those fancy Best Buys near them in America or the rest of the world. Or they could be like me and just really not want to experience the trailer release on a tablet with some Samsung/Best Buy employee breathing over their shoulder. That is not the “Samsung Experience” I want.
The huge box office for the Hunger Games films proves that the movies don’t need these sponsorship deals to be financially viable. This fact also explains the fan anger towards Samsung, while Community fans embraced Subway. Subway’s support of Community helped fans keep the show they loved on air and alternatively Samsung has CREATED A BARRIER to the thing we love. And I don’t care how cute you think Peeta’s bakery looked in those pictures at SDCC. I’m sure you would rather have seen the trailer today.
Unfortunately for us, Lionsgate has now discovered this new way of making even more money out of the Hunger Games franchise, so I fear a repeat of this scenario again. Maybe they’ll go with a different brand next time and have some other hoops you have to jump through for the trailer, but I’m sadly doubting it will be the fan-friendly-online-for-everyone-at-once release next year. The money’s too tempting, and they’re betting fans will forgive yet again.
Other people may be more forgiving than me. The trailer will be online Monday, and maybe its awesomeness will help us forget about the weekend before. For me, I know I won’t be buying anything with Samsung on it for a long time.
Let’s hope the other Mockingjay partnerships can actually enhance the fan experience.
In case you didn’t already know it, we’re gross. So much so that the whole advertising world is busy telling us how gross we are in an effort to help us conceal our unholy level of disgusting, because we should totally be ashamed!
These companies sell us (and in part help create) our insecurities. But don’t worry! Then they empower us! How, you ask? By making us feel insecure about having said insecurities, of course!
Thankfully, The Hunger Games isn’t like that. They may sell clothes, makeup, and nail polish that represent the selfish, ignorant elitists of the tale that should in no way be glorified. They may try to sell us elongated sandwiches full of irony to promote a film about the struggles of the starving and underprivileged. They may soften the collective fan experience by only letting people who possess certain technologies or live near certain stores get exclusive early access. But they would never exploit Katniss’ gender as a means to pander to a false empowerment campa— OH WAIT.
*blink blink* WHAT?
First off, as many fans have discussed several times over on every Hunger Games related form on the Internet– Katniss Everdeen does things LIKE A GUY. One of the most interesting thing about her is that she transcends gender stereotypes by taking on traditionally masculine roles. If anything, Peeta is the one who does things #LikeAGirl.
Don’t get us wrong– we still think Katniss has a hefty dose of femininity and is a great role model. But she can be a great role model for ANYONE, not just girls. If Katniss and Peeta’s genders were reversed, the main character would still be a great role model. To say that her accomplishments matter BECAUSE she is a woman and that she should inspire girls any more than boys is just ludicrous.
Does she get super secret strength just from having her monthly period? Is that what makes her such a great hunter, strategist, and leader? DID WE MISS THAT PART OF THE NOVELS?!
Also, this totally fails to empower us. It has the opposite effect:
- Katniss Everdeen is made of pure awesome. She fights for justice, leads a nation, and creates a new way of life for the entire populace of a struggling society.. and hey, she’s a woman!
- Well, I’m a woman and I do none of those things. Therefore, I SUCK. And don’t dare try to tell me I could sway the nation and lead a bloody human rights revolution right now, because then you’re just lying.
Then Always jumps in to really drive that point home:
We really, really hope this isn’t a long-term, ongoing partnership with this brand. It’s straight up patronizing: “Oh look, she’s a strong, heroic leader AND a woman! Let’s all stop and treat that like an anomaly!”
A major facet in Katniss’ likability factor is that she hates misleading campaigns that paint her as a false hero for the people. In a strange way, that’s what makes her a real hero.
It’s painful to equate that Katniss’ success and power to the fact that she, just like all the other women out there, survives that time of the month. In fact, it gives us cramps. Katniss never seems to get cramps. Dammit, we can’t ever measure up to this chick!
All in all, we think our friend Joan said it best when it comes to the premise of this whole campaign:
And There Goes The One Topic We Never Thought We’d Come Across Here,
The Girl With The Pearl
Awhile back, like a couple of years ago– I wrote about the prospect of The Hunger Games utilizing the tried and truth money-making method of product placement. However, now that a few major companies have made brief, and lasting partnerships with the franchise (Cover Girl, Subway) I’m struck with the thought again of “what if?” In the case of the most recent news of Lionsgate having sold the trailer debut of the first Mockingjay film to Samsung, I’m struck even harder with “what if?” But now it’s pulsing, and loud, and um… annoying.
What if Samsung are the makers of all those futuristic projection televisions we’ve seen in the last two Hunger Games films. Or worse, what if in Mockingjay: Part Two the Holo that Boggs carries around in the field is made by Samsung as well? What if for some ridiculous reason Lionsgate decides that in the last installments of the series to throw integrity aside, and forget that the companies of our world no longer exist, and have no place in the world of Panem. But alas they start
throwing in familiar, contemporary logos and symbols left and right, like a Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis film. Granted those directors were more tasteful than gratuitous with their usage of product placement, dare I say it– they perfected it, but things could change. They could do close ups on Snow’s white, blue veined hand reaching out and clicking a button on his projection television, and the Samsung logo is clear and prominent, like Audi in iRobot, or Omega in Casino Royale, or Ducati in Tron: Legacy– or the worst offender of them all, almost every frame in Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Speculation you will be the death of us!? Damn… I want a Coke.
Them There Eyes
News came out today that Mockingjay Part 1 would indeed have a presence at San Diego Comic Con. Yay! That’s awesome and great. And expected, since Lionsgate has been saying all along they would be at Comic Con since January. But now we know some of the stars will be there, which is great news for fans who long ago bought tickets thinking that Mockingjay would have a presence at the Con.
But then came the news of the Samsung partnership with Mockingjay Part 1, and how this would affect the LONG AWAITED Mockingjay trailer release.
In a first-of-its-kind experience, fans will have the opportunity to preview the highly-anticipated The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 trailer on the Galaxy Tab S at an exclusive premiere in San Diego during Comic-Con on Friday, July 25. For those outside San Diego, beginning Saturday, July 26, fans can visit participating Samsung Experience Shops within Best Buy locations nationwide throughout the weekend to preview the trailer.
So basically, the trailer will debut at SDCC ONLY on July 25. Then over the weekend you can watch the trailer IF YOU GO TO A BEST BUY STORE. If you’re an international fan, you’re out of luck until next week, when the trailer presumably goes online.
But don’t fear, fans without SDCC tickets or a Best Buy nearby, I’m sure there will be plenty of low quality versions of the trailer recorded on people’s MOBILE DEVICES that will be uploaded on the internet. It’ll be everywhere. Even if you want to avoid it, there inevitably will be screenshots all over social media that weekend.
To say I’m disappointed in this rollout plan would be a gross understatement. The thing I love about trailer releases is to share the experience online with fans around the world. Last year’s online release of the Catching Fire along with SDCC was such a fun event for fans everywhere. This staggered release RUINS the opportunity to make the release a big worldwide experience. To think that fans are going to ignore the LQ versions that will pop up to wait for Lionsgate to post on YouTube is preposterous. We had evidence of that a few weeks ago when the first teaser leaked. It will not work.
The people that really want to see your movie trailer ASAP are your hardcore fans. So a trailer release should be focused around THE FANS and how you can make that experience special. Instead, the rights to the trailer release were sold to Samsung. We certainly don’t question Lionsgate’s right to money off this movie. That’s why they’re in business and we’re very glad they’ve made these movies! But they really should keep in mind who their customers are. The customers who will see the movie several times, buy the merch, and give the movie buzz care THE MOST about trailer releases! Please stop destroying the experiences that they value and have waited for desperately for a few extra bucks.
And so what should be happy news (A TRAILER IS COMING. FINALLY. YES.) is tinged with sadness.
We love Lionsgate, but sometimes these guys just set themselves up!
Behold, Capitol Concerns– an open forum on TheCapitol.PN for the questions and concerns of Hunger Games fans as the release of Mockingjay approaches. As if they didn’t know! As if they haven’t seeeeeen! Of course, the response was exactly what you’d expect.
In all fairness, a few fans tried to express their legitimate concerns about the movie:
Or made snarky commentary on the teaser:
But mainly, as @antovolko pointed out, this happened:
There was even one fan who avoided the “T” word in hopes that skirting around the topic may get a different result:
Maybe it’s just us, but we’re thinking that The Capitol knows what the concerns of the people are. The people are pretty singular-minded. The #FreePeeta trend was a lovely trend and will surely be a concern for some, but most of us have read the books and that worry for hijacked!Peeta will be quickly overridden by knowing what happens in the end.
Much like Plutarch says in the end of Mockingjay, people are fickle and soon forgot the past– including teasers released a few days ago that don’t contain actual film footage. Not that we don’t appreciate the first haunting peek at Peeta gone Capitol, but whetting our appetites has just made us more hungry than ever. And then they opened the floodgates!
We applaud the brave citizens who have made their concerns known, but maybe we should try should try a more subtlety? We need a secret code for trailer or something, right? We’re gonna go with SOCK MONKEY.
Maybe if we stop talking about it, it’ll reverse-psychology the fuck outta the marketing team and they’ll be like “They don’t care anyone! Release it, release it nooooow!”
Meanwhile, We’re All Like “WHERE THE HELL IS THE SOCK MONKEY?!”
The Girl With The Pearl
P.S. If you’ve got trailer thoughts (or any thoughts on The Hunger Games) and want to help me stay sane in the days leading up to my wedding, check out how you can contribute a guest post!
I have a new hobby born from the ever-increasing wait for the Mockingjay Part 1 teaser trailer (or theatrical trailer, I suppose, if they keep delaying). Over the past few months, we’ve had rumor after rumor that turned into nothing. How much longer can this continue, we wonder?
So my hobby comes from a place of frustration. A feeling of utter helplessness. It sucks when you have no control over a situation doesn’t it? And so we all come together in the spirit of unity to… COMPLAIN.
Yes, my new favorite hobby is to track the Mockingjay and Lionsgate tags/accounts in various social platforms and listen to the fandom ask, beg, DEMAND, SCREAM, whine, and *cry* for a trailer. Or see fans joke about the situation with dark humor. Now, some of the comments go too far and are really rude. Let’s all remember that the people who manage Lionsgate’s social media accounts likely have no say over when a trailer is released. I’m sure they really want to make us happy but don’t have much control over it either, so don’t take it too far. Fortunately, the truly nasty comments seem to be rare.
If you’d like to express your feelings about the current state of affairs in a non-rude way, you have my full support and admiration. There have been several trending topics about the trailer which is awesome. So yeah, go share with the world how much you want a Mockingjay trailer. Have fun and be creative while you’re at it.
Here are some that made me laugh.
You can use lines from the previous movies:
No Mockingjay trailer today, No Mockingjay trailer tomorrow, No Mockingjay trailer forever
— ｎｅｗｔ (@IgniteRebellion) June 1, 2014
More movie lines!
And fun with lines from the book!
We’ve got snarky responses to tweets!
@TheHungerGames you know what’s a great plan? Releasing that trailer
— Catnus Iz Divergent (@SoNotDauntless) May 31, 2014
And then there are very direct and to the point responses.
@TheHungerGames TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER TRAILER
— Tiara Jade❤ (@tiarajadeee_) June 1, 2014
Ok, this one is what happens when we get a little too frustrated. But it’s how we all feel when we see another tweet about something released over two weeks ago (even if it was soooo awesome and we loved it two weeks ago). We feel ya.
@TheHungerGames STOP THIS RIGHT NOW WE’VE ALREADY SEEN THIS A MILLION TIMES. IM NOT GOING TO BE NICE ABOUT THIS ANYMORE, GIVE US THE TRAILER
— shrader (@jlawdobrev) June 2, 2014
And here’s one of mine. Yeah, I do it too.
@TheHungerGames I think you’d best release a propo asap. Strong discontent in the districts. Riots imminent.
— JJ (@jj_dash) May 30, 2014
We may have no control of the situation, but we can still have some fun with it.
As a Hunger Games fan are you feeling neglected? Left to roam the pasture alone? Well, maybe it’s because after the massive success of Catching Fire, Mockingjay is being treated as a cash cow? Yes, it seems the Mockingjay goes moo.
No, I haven’t completely lost my mind. I was just listening in to the Lionsgate quarterly earnings conference call today and I started thinking about how this could possibly be playing a role in the lack of promotion. There were a few tidbits learned from the call, like the new mobile game that will be launched, the Hunger Games museum exhibition in 2015, and confirmation that some lucky people in Cannes did actually see Mockingjay Part 1 footage, but mostly it was about other topics (and so I didn’t care). And these three tidbits are of minor interest to me as a fan anyway. I’m primarily here for the movies, and the promotion of the movies. The promotion of the movies is really fun too, but unfortunately this go round has been extremely lacking up to this point.
Indulge me in my silly theory for a moment. For Lionsgate, the fact that the Hunger Games franchise has become their cash cow is great. A cash cow is fantastic thing for a business to have. It’s a concept designed by a business consulting firm ages ago and is now basically a part of every Intro to Strategy course. A cash cow has high market share but is operating in a mature industry with low growth. The idea is modeled after a dairy cow – once you have it on your farm, you just leave it to roam the fields and it keeps pumping out lots of sweet, delicious milk over the years.
And there’s no question that The Hunger Games and Catching Fire have pumped out lots of milk. A lot of the success is to the credit of how they launched (and invested in) the franchise. And now that the first two films were massive successes, they are confident Mockingjay movies will continue to churn out more milk. The audience will come back for more without much bidding. Now, I don’t think the Mockingjay movies fit exactly in this bucket, because there’s clearly room for growth at the box office internationally. But, from our outside perspective, it seems that they’re investing less TIME at least on promoting Mockingjay as compared to THG or Catching Fire. I’m just praying that they don’t skimp on investment in the actual movie production. Please, please, NO.
For the business, having a cash cow is great. For the cow it’s not necessarily bad either. You get to do your thing and not be bothered so much. Well, until you stop producing milk and are put down.
However, if you’re a “city dweller” with no access to the farm (ALL OF US) it’s a sad situation, so I’m not going to pretend to be happy about Mockingjay’s status. And it’s not to say that in the month or two before the film comes out it won’t be MOCKINGJAY PART 1 EVERYWHERE. I’m sure it will, billboards and ad spot after ad spot. That’s just the necessity of movie marketing. It’s a shame that promotion has become so bare-bones in the meantime, because all the build up and the promotion is a huge part of the fun for mega-fans like us.
So in the meantime, we rely on awesome, talented fans to continue to do the promotion. Like this amazingly edited fan-made Mockingjay Part 1 trailer.
Thank you to the talented fans who keep the fun alive while we CONTINUE TO WAIT.
Did you know #Finnick has a new movie out today? It’s called The Quiet Ones, and it has nothing to do with the Hunger Games movies. But #Finnick is in it, and you love him!
— Catching Fire (@TheHungerGames) April 25, 2014
But why stop there? There’s also Divergent. It doesn’t have #Finnick in it unfortunately, but it’s based on a YA dystopian novel with a kickass teenaged heroine, so you’ll like it. I’m sure there have been focus groups to prove this. So after you see #Finnick in The Quiet Ones, be sure to see Divergent (again) too!
You see, it’s not the right time to mention ANYTHING ABOUT MOCKINGJAY in Hunger Games land. Why waste time talking about something months away when you could be spending your money on other things right now! Sure, Mockingjay Part 1 is the main thing you actually care about. But that’s not important because you can’t spend your money on that movie or the merchandise yet.
So here’s some other things we can do while we wait to buy Mockingjay Part 1 tickets:
- See Draft Day and watch a modern day #reaping starring Kevin Costner. Only instead of being reaped to an almost certain death, you get almost certain injuries and brain damage for your trouble. #Peeta
- If you have a cable subscription with AMC, watch Mad Men. Sally Draper is a surly teenager like #Katniss. You’ll like her. You can also buy 6 seasons of Mad Men on DVD and watch it on Netflix!
- While you’re online, check out the Netflix-exclusive Orange is the New Black. It’s about women in prison. Just like #Katniss is a prisoner of President #Snow’s manipulation.
- Make sure you have a subscription to Showtime too so you can watch Nurse Jackie. She’s ALSO surly and battled an addiction to #morphling.
- Sure, the #HungerGames are life-or-death but the country music business is tough too. Watch Nashville on ABC and you’ll see. Pretty much equal amounts of struggle going on.
Whatever you do, don’t mention the M-word. It’s just not the right time.