There are a number of things to expect during rush hour at Waterloo station: queues, a lot of shuffling, elbowing, perhaps the odd bit of swearing if you miss your train. What you don’t expect is to come across a pack of velociraptors.
No, not a disturbing infestation ‘65 million years in the making’, just a compelling marketing campaign that Universal Studios has deployed for the summer blockbuster, Jurassic World. To coincide with the film’s release, one of London’s busiest commuter hubs recently went through a drastic makeover and was fitted with gargantuan branded floor graphics, immersive visual materials depicting scenes from the movie and audio systems that emitted ambient sounds.
Best of the bunch? The inclusion of life-sized 3D models of the aforementioned raptors in the middle of the station. Travellers were invited to take pictures with the dinos and share them online, bookending each post with the hashtag #JurassicWaterloo.
Fifteen years ago, this overzealous level of promotion might have been considered too pricey but now, in an age when social media means we expect to be engaged instead of targeted, marketing departments for the film industry need to respond with more creativity to catch our eye. More importantly, these campaigns require a distinctive visual flair if they are to be shared across numerous social media channels and raise awareness of an upcoming release.
Consider Disney’s extravagant PR stunt back in 1998, when giant graphics of gaping asteroid-blown holes were printed on the sides of buildings in Los Angeles for the promotion of Armageddon – visually striking, yes, but imagine the kind of following it would’ve generated had those awe-inspiring feats of advertising been shared on Twitter and Instagram. Instead, they mainly caused major gridlocks on the Interstate 5.
Then again, it’s not all about the size of the campaign. For the upcoming Marvel blockbuster Ant-Man, a series of ant-size billboards have been popping up in several Australian cities in recent months, a theme that neatly ties in with the titular superhero’s shrinking abilities. This is yet another example of a promotional campaign that lends itself well to social media and stands out from the competition.
With this level of invention going into film promotion, it seems that the films themselves are no longer the preserve of cinematic creativity.