7 Of The Most Ingenious Movie Marketing Ideas

Including Ant-Man's teeny billboard campaign and the Prometheus TED Talk

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1 | The Small Ads
Ant-Man, out 17 July

So what’s the USP of Marvel’s latest superhero to get his big screen debut, Ant-Man? When he puts on his suit, he turns mini. So how to market him? Mini ads! There’s been a mini trailer teaser only a few pixels wide, a mini poster that was 99 per cent blank space, and a campaign of mini light-up billboards at Australian bus-stops. Simple yet effective (more so if you had a magnifying glass to hand).

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2 | The TED Talk
Prometheus (2012)

Given how tedious some TED Talks can be, it was ambitious to create a fake one and expect it to go viral. But the presentation at TED 2023 by Sir Peter Weyland, CEO of Weyland Industries – and played by Guy Pearce in Ridley Scott’s Alien-prequel-but-not-quite Prometheus – was a smart move, serving as a teaser for some of the major themes of the movie. Plus it was only three minutes long.

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3 | The 'Found' Footage
The Blair Witch Project (1999)

It’s easy to forget that Blair Witch came out when the internet was still some radical new thing that your dad told you about (remember when he called you from the toilet on his new mobile phone?), but when the trailer first came out, featuring supposedly found footage of the world’s most ill-fated student film project, it put the wind up us all, good and proper.

4 | The Online Game
Inception (2010)

Given how hard it was to unpick Christopher Nolan’s Inception while actually watching it, the promotional online video game Mind Crime (mind-crime.com) was rather a useful primer. After creating a city blueprint, a player has five minutes to retrieve secrets from a safe hidden in the dreamer’s subconscious before the dream collapses. Which, as you’ll remember from the film, makes COMPLETE AND UTTER SENSE.

5 | The Linkedin Request
Nightcrawler (2014)

When a request came into our inbox asking us to add to our LinkedIn network one Lou Bloom, CEO of Video News Production, something about it rang familiar. “Who am I? I’m a hard worker, I set high goals and I’ve been told I’m persistent...” the request began. Oh yes! Bloom was the salacious gore-whore anti-hero of Dan Gilroy’s takedown of 21st-century media, Nightcrawler. Come to think of it, the fact that his profile picture was Jake Gyllenhaal might also have been a clue.

6 | The Temporary Landmark
The Simpsons Movie (2007)


In America, The Simpsons Movie was heralded by the conversion of a dozen 7-Elevens into Kwik-E-Marts stocked with Buzz Cola and KrustyO’s. In Britain, the 17th-century chalk drawing of the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset was joined on his hillside by an immense Homer Simpson in his underpants holding aloft a doughnut. The local pagans branded it “ridiculous” and prayed for rain – the Cerne Abbas Giant’s own enormous hard-on, however, was deemed just fine.

7 | The Death Threat
The Ring Two (2002)


There’s nothing like a hoax death threat to catch your attention, as marketeers twigged when they set up 7daysleft.com to plug the home entertainment release of The Ring Two. You entered a friend’s email and phone number, who was then sent a mail linking to the trailer. Part way through watching, their phone would ring, and they’d hear a voice whispering, “Seven days”, which if you’ve seen the Ring movies you’ll know is bad news. (And hilarious.)

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