Film Trailers – Buzz or Buzzkill?

To me, an art form; to others, a spoiler. For marketers … an opportunity.

Let me start with this: I am not a professional when it comes to films and film trailers. I am simply an admirer of cinema. Like many others, I enjoy them for the entertainment value they provide and for the emotional response they can induce.

Indeed, films had a profound effect on me during my youth. I had a wild and vivid imagination. I would often struggle to distinguish between my imagination and reality, as the latter was so exciting.

As I aged, I was forced to “grow up”, but it is undeniable that the excitement is still deep-rooted in me. I still feel a genuine buzz when a new film comes out, particularly if it reminds me of a fond childhood memory.

I believe cinema and film trailers to be powerful as it facilitates the generation of that unique feeling. It has the power to create real, pure emotion. This is advantageous for marketers, as emotion is key in generating interest and loyalty. The passions displayed by avid Star Wars fans is evidence of the importance of emotion. 


It’s All About the Reboots
Now, as sad as it is for me to admit, some would say that creativity in cinema is dead. I would point them in the direction of films like Chef or The Intouchables in this case, but one can understand this sentiment given the proliferation of reboots in modern cinema.

Whilst the range of reboots may create some negative perceptions of the film industry, the numbers speak for themselves, and the numbers suggest that reboots are working.

As you can see, the best performing movies of 2017 are all reboots or sequels of movie franchises and perhaps this can explain the shift in style of film trailers.

Given the established popularity of these franchises, the production companies designing the film trailers do not need to worry as much about the plot. Instead, they can focus on creating suspense, and tapping into the emotional ties a film may have with its audience. This is an excellent marketing tactic for engagement.

A Well-Needed Evolution
Indeed, movie trailers have evolved quite significantly. There are stark differences between the modern movie trailer and the traditional. One particular difference is the structure of, and the amount of information conveyed in the trailer. From my experience, people who dislike movie trailers feel so because of the perception that the trailer exposes too much of the plot, thus spoiling the excitement of watching a film for the first time.

22 Years later…
Jumanji is an excellent example here. Upon review of the 1995 Jumanji trailer, it is understandable why this perception of movie trailers exists.  The trailer for the film revealed far more than it needed to. It essentially acted as a preview of the film, rather than a trailer. There was no suspense, no thrill. This is particularly concerning as the intention of the trailer is to convert viewers into paying customers. Whilst this style of the trailer wouldn’t have an impact on today’s short attention spanned-audience, one must be sympathetic to the times. The internet wasn’t as accessible in 1995, so marketers needed to push information in the hopes that something stuck, as the audience couldn’t immediately rewatch it on Youtube or on Facebook.

Would this inspire you?

In hindsight, we know that Jumanji 1995 is a fantastic film – yes it is don’t argue – but in comparison to the Jumanji 2017 trailer, below, the 1995 trailer succcccks.

I do believe and feel free to dispute this, that the success of the trailer – which accumulated 25 million views on the Sony Entertainment Picture Youtube page – coupled with other variables such as the impact of Dwayne Johnson on the cast list, influenced the incredible success of the film.

Picture Perfect…

There is the risk that trailers over-hype the film or mislead the viewer, leading to bitter disappointment. However, overall, trailers are curated and published strategically in order to generate the greatest levels of awareness and thus success. Trailers nowadays are designed to incentivise excitement by tapping into a consumer’s nostalgia, and emotional psyche. They are the short-term solution to a need – which, in most cases, is a demand for the film.


Lee is a digital marketing intern at Fox Socks Limited. As smart and he is smiley, Lee is a big foodie with a passion for eating out. When he isn't busy applying his marketing prowess at Fox Socks, Lee spends his time studying for his masters, participating in outdoor sports, and being a social (media) butterfly @EmployMEketer