Opinion: Fox’s Marketing Campaign for ‘Dawn Treader’
There’s been a lot of feedback on our forum and news story comments on Fox’s marketing campaign for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Mainly, how poor it was based on how the movie is doing in theaters. But is that really Fox’s fault? I’ve typed up my own thoughts on Fox’s marketing campaign.
There were a few things that Fox did I thought were truly brilliant. First, when they opened up The Spit and the Cleveland Point filming locations in Australia to the public eye. Watching the Dawn Treader being built on the opposite side of the world, and even though I wasn’t there, getting to see the daily progress of the sets being built and then filming on them was just so very cool! This was easily when I was most excited about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
The second superb thing they did, and in my humble opinion the best piece of marketing anyone has done for any of the movies, was Operation Narnia. It may not have been the best draw for the movie perhaps, but the concept of it was truly Narnian — reaching out to children in need. Fox did Lewis proud here I think!
My third favorite thing they did was transforming The Matthew into the Dawn Treader and sailing her around England with children from several countries on board! icarus was lucky enough to get to see her, and Paul Martin at NarniaFans.com got to sail on her! Really very cool!
Other things I felt they did well. I felt the timing in which they released their individual marketing pieces (ie posters, trailers) for Dawn Treader was good. It certainly wasn’t like the Prince Caspian marketing fiasco when Disney started building excitement and anticipation really early on and then dropped off the face of the earth for a few months, and the blasted everybody in the face with an overabundance of news two months before the movie came out. For those following the Dawn Treader news, there was a good, steady build of excitement.
I felt worldwide advertising for Dawn Treader was superior to Prince Caspian. I don’t remember getting very much in the way at all of worldwide spy reports on that movie’s marketing, but we got quite a lot for Dawn Treader. The Regent Street Christmas Lights celebration was especially fun.
Advertising to the faith community. Better than Prince Caspian, not as good The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They tried, but I’m not sure the faith community responded.
I’ll give the online marketing an ok in my book. The official website was fun. Towards the end Fox did pretty well putting out trailers and video clips on various movie websites. IMDb got some very nice advertisements for that site. But I’m still waiting for the production to do an official website that releases NEWS. It’s been a long time now but does anyone remember the official Lord of the Rings website? The Narnia movies desperately needed (and still need) a site like that one.
After filming wrapped up at Cleveland Point, Fox really clamped down on the news. You may have noticed the lack of exclusive interviews from the fansites this time around? Well it wasn’t for a lack of trying. We simply weren’t allowed to post anything. On one hand I can understand that because you don’t want film details too early, but on the other hand, you start to get the feeling that the production isn’t excited or doesn’t care about their film.
Well I really felt like there were a few places Fox missed some golden opportunities for marketing. The number one thing that stood out to me was missing Comic-Con 2010. Why was there nothing there? I just didn’t get that. Especially when they showed up at some other place (I forget where now) with some kind of display a couple weeks later. Could they have not had something ready for Comic-Con just a few weeks before?
And then the two killer things: Merchandise being the first. Oy. I understand that Fox doesn’t do as much merchandising as Disney. And maybe the Prince Caspian merchandising failed so miserably at bringing in money that Fox didn’t even want to try, I don’t know. But after claiming to return to making a movie for kids, there sure was a lack of stuff to draw children’s eyes — and in turn beg the parents to take them to see the movie. And I know so many people that would have killed for a Dawn Treader replica.
And then finally, the quality of the marketing pieces. The first teaser poster aside, I don’t know what they were thinking? I mean, I just didn’t get it. To release so many official posters of an obviously incomplete Dawn Treader. And the international poster has the sail backwards. Billboards with one character’s clothing overlapping onto another one’s head. Very, very sloppy. And I just did not understand why as those are fairly easy fixes to make. But they didn’t, and in bookstores in Europe you can purchase The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with an incomplete sail printed right on the cover.
But at the end of the day, looking back at the full marketing campaign, I have to give Fox full marks for at least doing everything they needed to do. Not high marks for quality no, but they told people the movie was coming. I may have a lot of people disagree with me perhaps, but in my middle-of-nowhere town, I saw posters, I saw a theater stand, I saw books and magazines in bookstores, and I saw a couple of commercials on TV. So outside of NarniaWeb and the internet, I knew this movie was coming.
To address something I’ve been seeing all over this site that I know is going to come up again…
“Yeah, but my brother/sister/mom/kids/uncle/cousins/best friend/pet monkey had no idea this movie was coming out til it was in theaters!”
… to which I sit back in my chair and smile wryly. Really? My family and friends knew Dawn Treader was coming out the moment it was greenlit and I never stopped babbling about it til it hit theaters. I still haven’t, actually.
So I think that speaks volumes, if the top fans of the Narnia movies, who visit this site, are not talking about the Dawn Treader movie with their closest friends and family. Yeah, I think that says quite a lot. And I don’t see how the blame for that can be laid on Fox’s marketing department. That ball would be in the filmmaker’s court because they’re not making movies that people find worth talking about.
So there are my thoughts, and we would love to hear yours, so feel free to post in the comments section below or on the forum here.