Today, we’re going to be positive and grateful. For what, you ask?
Though we’re still confused about why the Katniss ad for Always exists, today we will show our thanks that some other character-specific ad campaigns DON’T exist, even though they’re surprisingly more relevant to the story than tampons.
At least we’ve not yet seen…
Peeta’s Pastries - Not the fresh yum yum shop pastries at Comic-Con (even though they totally stole the Effie cupcakes design). We’re talkin’ prepackaged, dry cakes with a frosting filler served en masse! All covered in icing Mockingjays, arrows, arena obstacles, and more! Just like out of Mellark bakery (except with more sugar and artificial preservatives!)
Haymitch’s Liquor - Though we would most definitely name a little homebrew project after Haymitch, could you imagine an actual liquor brand releasing commercials with Katniss’ mentor drunkenly attesting to its level of awesome? Or creating unique labeling with Hunger Games fans in mind using Haymitch? Spit take worthy, possibly hilarious, yet sadly 100% inappropriate. But most fans are old enough to drink anyway, so why not?!
Gale’s Hunting Bows - What product does The Hunger Games show off more than anything? WEAPONS. So why not sell some badass hunting gear?! Promoted by a male character, of course, so that men don’t have to feel shame and outrage because a woman like Katniss can handle a weapon just as well as them!
Johanna’s Body Lotion - If you’re often naked or scantily clad in low cut outfits, you NEED a moisturizer that leaves your skin looking beautiful! Johanna knows the secret to soft, supple skin, even on a recently shaved head!
Finnick’s Manscaping Products - Hair gel, chest wax, self tanner, and more! Finicky probably uses it all. Now he can share his methods with the modern male population so they can ALL be studly! Or maybe just throw him into an Axe body spray campaign, because anyone who looks that good MUST smell good, despite the sweat from continuous workouts!
Aren’t you glad these things DON’T exist? Don’t you feel better?
This doesn’t make every product partnership that’s been associated with the film good (most aren’t), but sometimes we gotta be happy that there’s only one product tie-in tweet we’d categorize as utterly ridiculous.
Of course, we also want to show that specific character tie-ins are tough to pull off for this franchise. The only one we could see so far is Samsung possibly using Beetee to tie in with their technologies, but that hasn’t happened yet. Advertising can be fun, but we just gotta make sure everyone knows THERE’S A LINE!
If You Want To Sell Brands, Maybe Start With A Story That Isn’t About Poverty?
The Girl With The Pearl
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.
As we start the WEEK OF THE MOCKINGJAY TRAILER RELEASE, many questions remain:
Is it a full trailer, or another one of the propaganda videos?
When can I watch it on my Samsung Galaxy Amazing Awesomeness Tablet/Phone?
When is it actually going to be released online?
Well, none of these questions have been officially answered yet, but there are a few good leads.
While Lionsgate in their press release called it a teaser trailer, it seems likely this will be a longer 2 min+ trailer. They may just call it a teaser since it is the first official trailer to come out. (The other two being viral videos, or rather Presidential Addresses)
You can download the ultra-special awesome Samsung app starting on the 28th, so if you were expecting to bypass the trip to the fantabulous wonderland that is a Samsung Experience Best Buy stores over the weekend to see the trailer, I’m afraid not.
While there is no news from Lionsgate, the Russian distributor has said the trailer will be available online at 12am ET Monday July 28 (9pm PT Sunday July 27).
So, as per usual, we’re not left with much of anything concrete yet, other than it’s the T-word. I guess that’s the thing we have wanted for so long, so we should be EXCITED. YEAH. TRAILER IS COMING IN LESS THAN A WEEK ONLINE. WE THINK. PROBABLY.
But given this weird distribution strategy of a weekend Best Buy store exclusive, it’s certainly put a damper on the whole thing. I’ve been wondering if it’s just me and the fans that I know who have been bummed out by it. Are we being too emotional about it? When going through comments and posts, I’ve seen A LOT of negativity, interspersed with Samsung owners who are happy (granted they are usually happy because they mistakenly think they will be able to see the trailer first via their device from anywhere).
Then you have the non-fans or casual viewers who pop their heads in to say that we’re being stupid, BECAUSE IT WILL BE ONLINE EVENTUALLY DUH, and to STOP COMPLAINING. I’ve been able to control myself and not respond to such people, but wow are those non-fan/casual-viewer comments infuriating.
We all have things that we love, interests that we follow closely. For some people it’s a sport/sports team or some other kind of hobby. For others, it’s books and movies. And we love THE HUNGER GAMES books and movies. Last year’s SDCC event was a great day in the fandom. We mistakenly believed that we would get a repeat of that day for Mockingjay Part 1. I’m not saying there won’t be good things to come out of SDCC for fans. I mean, there’s a TRAILER that those casual viewers keep reminding us we can see EVENTUALLY. And usually studios will release posters or other things as well, which I really hope Lionsgate does. But without a Hall H panel or concurrent trailer release, it seems that it will be much more muted than last year, and I think a lot of us are realizing that we better keep our expectations in check.
There’s always next year, right?
We’ve got BONUS guest posts for you this week! Check out another Mockingjay musing from Satsuma, who sees plenty of opportunity of historical parallels in the final two films!
Here I am, trying to make more predictions about the MJ movies. My last post dealt with their possible approach to romance. This one focuses more on the politics. Specifically, whether the movies will continue to make references to historical political events that have parallels to what happens in Panem.I say “continue to”, because both THG and CF seemed to make a directed effort to make viewers consider the parallels, in many subtle ways. Maybe it’s just me, but the “Capitol = Rome” set-up SC created seems to have actually taken a back seat, with more modern examples of tyranny and oppression being focused on more. We have the Capitol set design from THG, inspired by “brutalist” architecture used by the Nazi’s, as well as Tianamen Square; and the use of Henry River Mill village, a real life “company town” (though for a different industry than coal) for the Seam.
And while this isn’t expressly political, I was also quite struck by the Capitol equivalent of a sports book that was showcased in that movie, especially as we see gambling in all forms becoming more and more socially acceptable these days in the US, and states trying to get a cut of the action; not just the state lotteries, but, for example, how Governor Christie of New Jersey recently attempted to legalize sports gambling in his state). And while FYI I admit I never “got” the whole allure of gambling, certainly one can argue that it’s yet another way that the “powers that be” can distract citizens from more serious issues.
In CF, the D11 design actually tweaked aspects of canon, such as showing workers picking cotton instead of fruit as they did in the book, to drive the “D11 = Deep South”, not just geographically but culturally as well, to the extent of giving the Peacekeepers attack dogs that I bet Bull Connor would have loved to own. (Brief history lesson: Connor was a notorious segregationist “Commissioner of Public Safety” in Birmingham, AL, who cracked down harshly on civil rights protestors in the 1960s. I’ve even wondered if Connor’s deceptively benign job title, helped inspire the “Peacekeeper” moniker.)
And not only did CF harken back to the 1960’s, it also showed “rebellion” footage that seemed straight out of the Arab Spring. I’m sure that was no co-incidence.Especially knowing that Danny Strong wrote the first scripts, I’m sure that MJ will continue to showcase these historical and political parallels. (Note that, as has been mentioned on this blog before, “Game Change” actually has a lot of similarities to MJ even though Sarah Palin is VERY different from Katniss in many ways, both feature a female character “campaigning” for a cause and frequently “going rogue” and disregarding the scripts their handlers want them to follow.)
Note that the MJ marketing again touched on the idea of “Panem field hands = African Americans”, considering the race of the woman chosen to represent the Grain district (even though she likely hailed from the Midwest, not as strongly associated with the African American civil rights struggle as the Deep South, though certainly the North had/has its own issues with racism as well.)
Unfortunately, it’s likely too late for the MJ movies to draw the obvious parallels between the MJ rebellion and what’s happening at the Ukraine-Russia border these days, right down to innocent civilians being caught in the cross-fire, with each side pointing the finger at the other as the culprit for a wartime atrocity. Much as in MJ, I wonder if we’ll ever find out the REAL story about who shot down that airliner. (On the other hand, there’s still almost two years worth of marketing to go…)
But we know that the Iraq war helped to inspire SC to write this story, as did her father’s experiences as a soldier in Vietnam. I can certainly see, for example, a shot of rebels dragging down a statue of Snow, much as Saddam Hussein’s statue bit the dust. Or perhaps we’ll see a shot of Snow being dragged out of a bunker somewhere. And while Julianne Moore’s description of D13 seems more consistent with “Jericho” and other post-apocalyptic societies than the historical Soviet Union, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some reference to the idea of “Capitol = US, D13 = USSR”; perhaps a nod to classic Cold War era movies such as “Dr. Strangelove” (which itself based the not-so-good Doctor partly on Werner von Brown, who managed to jump from serving the Nazis in WWII to directing NASA in the 1960s; hmm, that sounds almost like what Plutarch did, actually).
Finally, the reason I titled this post “Applicability”, is that the current events in Crimea really did impress me with how applicable this series is to the Ukraine/Russia conflict, even though SC wrote the books years before this conflict flared up. In both, we have rebels who want to break away from one problematic regime, yet are backed by another regime that has many problematic aspects as well. This is one reason I think this series may remain relevant for a while, even after the last MJ movie.
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.
Today we have a great guest post by Satsuma on a topic that brings out a lot of passion in the fandom.
Okay, first things first. I confess that it wasn’t just the (rather scanty) Mockingjay news so far that brought this question to my mind.
No, I must credit the inspiration for this topic, of how much romance is appropriate for a sci-fi, action-packed “young adult” tale to, of all things, LEGOs — the LEGO ninjas who star in the Cartoon Network show, “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu”. Think LEGO Star Wars mixed with kung-fu. For a series of 22-minute LEGO commercials, the show can be surprisingly deep; there is one Big Bad Palpatine/Sauron-like villain, but other antagonists are quite humanized, including Darth -er, Lord Garmadon, or the snake-like Serpentine clans, who actually have legitimate reasons to be angry at mankind.
The show is targeted mostly at young boys, and the 4 ninjas (Kai, Jay, Zane, and Cole) are all male, as is the Chosen One, Lloyd. But there is one significant female character; Nya, Kai’s sister. Nya is a mecha wiz who dresses up in a robo-Samurai-suit to fight evil, and often bests the boys at their game.
Seasons 1 and 2 of the show had a touch of innocent romance between Nya and Jay, but this was far from the focus. But suddenly, in season 3, Nya wound up in a love triangle between Jay and fellow ninja Cole. A love interest appeared for Zane as well, and it even turned out that Lord Garmadon and his brother, Sensei Wu, had both wooed Padm – er, Misako in the past.
Well, the fan reaction to all this romance, was, essentially, “ewwww”! Not just from the young boys, but the tween girls who were the likely target of it. Many female fans of the show were annoyed that Nya was turned into yet another Bella-like ingenue torn between two suitors, as opposed to a heroine in her own right who just happened to be dating another ensemble character.
And so this brings me to Mockingjay, and the debates over how much romance will, and should, be in the films. It seems the fan consensus for THG was that one of the film’s major flaws was how the K/P ship was not only downplayed, but done so in a way that shorted Peeta as a character. For the CF movie, I was mostly satisfied both with the “balance” between K/P and K/G and the overall amount of romance , but I certainly recall some Everlarkers griping “no plant book scene”, “no rooftop scene”, or “that beach kiss was NOT passionate enough” (I actually agree with the last one; it was cute, but not one that made me think Katniss was having sexy feelings down below, the way the book scene certainly did.)
What will we see in the MJ films, though? Certainly, two films give the film-makers extra time for romance, but that doesn’t mean all the book scenes will make it in. Some of the extra time will be given to added scenes, such as battles, or exposition scenes between Snow and his new adviser, Antonius, and we’ll likely get a peek at Coin’s machinations as well. So in keeping with the general trends, I forecast some romantic scenes being edited, cut down, or merged with others.
Again, the “balance” between K/P and K/G will be crucial, especially given Peeta’s absence in most of Part 1, and the difficulty even SC herself had with sinking K/G not only as a romance, but as a friendship as well (I refer, again, to the many “post-MJ” fanfics that feature a K/G reconciliation at least as friends.)
What I think fans also should keep in mind, is that the MJ book itself was a much less “romantic” a book than certainly CF, or even THG. To me, even before Peeta reappeared, MJ made it obvious that the only potential K/G had, even without the clashes in values, was a “lifeboat camaraderie” type friendship with some “hurt/comfort” thrown in. (And to be fair, K/P has these aspects as well, but goes beyond it in a way K/G didn’t.) Note that SC herself had to be nudged by her editor into writing “more of the Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle”. (Source)
Now, this little tidbit makes me highly suspect that the very Twilight-ish “who will she choose” scene between Peeta and Gale in Tigris’s shop was added on by SC in response to her editor’s suggestions. Considering how the films so far have tended to cut out the “cheesier” romantic scenes and lines, I think that if we do see the scene, it will be quite cut down, though Gale’s “she’ll choose who she can’t survive without” comment may be left in. And it certainly may, as Katniss’s later musings about “what I need to survive” show much about the characters of all Love Triangle Trio members. Also, in the books, Katniss only reflects on this comment internally. Certainly, book!Katniss actually verbalizing her complicated feelings to Peeta (or to Gale) would have been quite OOC. But movie!Katniss is not quite as introverted (a change I certainly prefer to cheesy voice-overs), and it will be interesting to see how the movie converts her thoughts to actual dialogue. In this way, I can see the MJ movies having a more “romantic” component than the books.
My own take on the series is that, romance is certainly a large component of it; certainly more than the Y-7 rated Ninjago. Not only do we have the central love triangle, we also have Mr. M, Mrs. E and Mr. E, Annie and Finnick, and so on. I certainly don’t agree with the extreme anti-romance “Katniss was incapable of loving anyone but Prim, she just chose Peeta because she was stuck with him and did what she could to survive” theory. But in the end, it is NOT a romance in terms of the genre. So I’m not personally going to wait with baited breath for each book kiss to appear on the scene.
I think SC meant for the romance to take a back seat in MJ, and only be established towards the end, in the context of not only two hot bodies going at it, but a long-lasting relationship that produces children, to provide a ray of hope at the end. I also hope the films convey the idea that the “choice” between Peeta and Gale wasn’t just a choice between two men (unlike Nya’s choice, as her suitors are both “good guys” who pretty much look the same except for wig and costume) but one between two different ways of life. Can movie!Katniss become one of the few pop culture heroines who isn’t JUST a “romantic” or “action” heroine, but transcends both?
One can only hope.