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Viral ad campaigns that took movies to the next level

(image: Thinkmodo)

These days, there are two ways of marketing a new movie:

1) You can release trailers and put up posters all over town. It’s a tried and tested formula that has worked for decades; or

2) You can think outside the box and create something a little bit special in order to promote your film.

This week, Motherboard released three short film prequels to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. All of them were tightly-told stories taking place in the decade since the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. If you haven’t seen them yet, you should really check them out. This one is our favourite:

But this isn’t the first time that movie studios have been creative with their promotional campaigns. Here are some of our favourite viral ads from the past few years.

Toy Story 3 (2010)

(image: Disney/Pixar)

(image: Disney/Pixar)

There are a lot of real-world playthings in the Toy Story universe: Mr Potato Head and Barbie are just a few of the characters that existed before Pixar brought them to life.

So when it came to creating the villainous pink bear Lotso from the third film, the makers of Toy Story 3 decided to give him a retroactive history, complete with an advert from the 1980s:

Even better is this fake Japanese version! (Wait for the moment where the other toys are forced to bow to Lotso)



Limitless (2011)

(image: eOne)

(image: eOne)

This Bradley Cooper thriller centred on a pill that allowed people to ‘unlock the potential of their brains’, effectively turning them into super geniuses. Playing on this idea, these fake ads featuring Cooper’s face were plastered all over the London Underground:

(via callmemrmilly)

(via callmemrmilly)

Also, they released this fake viral video that showed a man hijacking screens in New York’s Times Square.

We’re not sure how this is related to the movie, but it was a pretty cool stunt, nonetheless.

Prometheus (2012)

Fans were invited into the world of Ridley Scott’s Alien and Prometheus with a number of viral videos. First of all was this TED Talk from the year 2023, in which industrialist Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce) lays out his creepy vision of the future.

And taking a lead from Apple’s iconic promotional videos, they also released this equally creepy advert for Fassbender-bots.



District 9 (2009)

(image: TriStar Pictures)

(image: TriStar Pictures)

Neill Blomkamp’s debut feature was set in a future version of South Africa where aliens had long since landed on Earth. Almost all of them live in a demarcated zone known as District 9. To promote the film’s release, an expansive and inventive poster campaign was employed, echoing the xenophobic tone of the film’s characters.

(via amandacobb.co.uk)

(via amandacobb.co.uk)

(image: TriStar Pictures)

(image: TriStar Pictures)

(image: TriStar Pictures)

(image: TriStar Pictures)



Carrie (2013)

(image: MGM)

(image: MGM)

There are also hidden-camera pranks, which are especially relevant when you’re promoting a horror film. For the recent Carrie-remake, a camera crew rigged up a coffee shop and filled it with actors. It was all for the purpose of terrifying the public, one caffeine addict at a time.



Curse of Chucky (2013)

Chucky

And what better way to market a horror movie than by terrifying some poor Brazilians?

So come on, movie companies! The bar for marketing stunts has now been set. What are you going to do next?

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