In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, movie buffs were surprised to find IMDb pages popping up online and unexpected trailers dropping for what appeared to be a reboot of Crocodile Dundee. The trailers for Dundee looked expertly shot, with a dazzling cast of Danny McBride and Chris Hemsworth to match. Viewers soon learned the marketing for Dundee was a sham. There was no movie, but instead fans were watching a campaign from Droga5 for Tourism Australia.
A few weeks earlier, Taco Bell dropped an equally deceptive trailer, starring Josh Duhamel, to announce the addition of fries to Taco Bell’s menu. Other brands have tapped into the growing trend of disguising fake movie trailers as ad campaigns—from a fictitious film trailer by fashion brand Robert Graham, to the NFL’s cinematic trailer, “Hope,” ahead of the 2017 season. It’s keeping consumers on their toes and tapping into humor in a new way that viewers seem to welcome.
“These brands are using self-effacing humor to generate likability between themselves and their audience. … These companies are overtly making fun of themselves and in a marketing climate filled with over-promise and brands that hold themselves up in the highest regard imaginable, the honesty of this approach is a breath of fresh air for consumers,” explained Mike McKay, chief creative officer at Eleven.
One explanation for this new trend is that people can identify more with a film than a traditional ad campaign, Red Interactive CEO Nick Phelps argued. “Few things transcend culture as much as movies and get people passionate. It makes perfect sense to use that for the purpose of your brand,” Phelps said.
While creatives who have worked on these projects argue the process to create a normal ad campaign and one for a fake movie trailer aren’t that different, there’s a lot more attention to detail when marketing a fake movie. So attempting the stunt isn’t for the faint of heart.
Taco Bell payed particularly close attention to how to market movies, when thinking about its creative approach for the “Web of Fries” launch.