Not sure if you’ve seen but there are a few monoliths going around. Popping up in Utah, Romania and now California, and then disappearing just as quickly, these metal monoliths have people around the world scratching their heads. What could they be? Leftover film props? Aliens? An elaborate marketing ploy?
It’s that last one that we’re here to talk about. Over the years plenty of brands have used off-the-wall guerrilla marketing tactics to get attention. And if this is what the monoliths are trying to achieve – it’s working. As for what they are trying to market, another mystery. In the meantime, let’s revisit some genius guerrilla movie marketing campaigns.
The Blair Witch Project
Probably one of the most famous guerrilla marketing campaigns to date, the filmmakers of The Blair Witch Project marketed it as a documentary. And people actually bought it because this was one of the first movies to use the found-footage style.
It all began with a website that gave backgrounds on the missing students, a history of the Blair Witch and clips of footage. The team then infiltrated online chat rooms, spreading the rumours about the Blair Witch and whether the film was real. They even falsified missing person reports and published them in local newspapers.
The tactic worked because everyone was then intrigued enough to see Blair Witch and find out what the deal was. It made over $250 million from a budget of $25,000. We really do love our unsolved mysteries.
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight conducted a marketing scheme worthy of a Christopher Nolan film. Titled “Why So Serious”, the campaign conducted an elaborate ARG in 75 countries across the world. From comic book shops to Comic-Con, the marketing team invited fans to be a part of the war between Batman, The Joker and Harvey Dent.
Fans worked together to uncover clues that led them to things like mobile phones hidden in cakes, defaced dollar bills and casting votes in the Gotham City election. All of which tied in to real events in the film.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
To try and make waves, the PR team promoted Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom by sending a T-Rex down the Thames in London. The full-size T-Rex model could be seen breaking out of a shipping container as it cruised down a boat on the river, emulating the plot of the movie where dinosaurs had to be shipped out of Isla Nublar as it exploded. An interesting stunt, but T-Rex’s have nothing on 2020.
Josh Trank’s low budget superhero film Chronicle caught the attention of locals when it sent up human shaped RC planes into the sky, to replicate people flying. The stunt did pretty well for raising awareness about the indie film, it ended up grossing $126 million.
Gracing us in Australia were these billboards for Ant-Man, that were made for ants. To promote Marvel’s newest tiny hero, the marketing team stuck tiny movie billboards all around Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Ants needed to know, you see.
Also, unfortunately, gracing us in Australia were these creepy red balloons above drain pipes promoting the new IT movie. In the film Pennywise the clown is known to live in sewers and carry signature red balloons – so this tactic was simple and very on-brand. It also had a lasting impact on any coulrophobics (me).
Star Wars: Episode VIII
Who knows why the Star Wars marketing time decided that flying a giant lightsaber around Sydney was a good idea, but they did. The giant lightsaber was airlifted by a helicopter and made to match Kylo Ren’s crossguard sabre from the film The Last Jedi. A strange effect of the lightsaber was that taking a slow exposure picture (or just shaking your head rapidly like an idiot) revealed a hidden message – the tickets were on sale at Hoyts.
The campaign for horror movie The Nun annoyed some of the team at YouTube who ended up having to pull its ad from the site for violating its content policy. The ad was made to be unskippable before watching a YouTube video and featured an unexpected jump scare. YouTube had to pull it for its violent and shocking content which traumatised viewers everywhere. Watch it if you dare.
Now back to the monoliths. Who knows if they’re a wild PR stunt promoting the next big thing. Could it be Dune? The next Independence Day? Is this their way of telling us that they’re remaking 2001: A Space Odyssey? Either way, we’re on the edge of our seats waiting to find out.