Two Films Fighting It Out In Theaters and OOH. Winner Is?

The battle lines were set for two films opening tomorrow (May 18th) for quite a while – and we’re not even talking about the box office take. Presenting some of the most impressive out of home (OOH) creative we’ve seen in a long time, Paramount and Universal have certainly had some fun with the outdoor creative for THE DICTATOR and BATTLESHIP respectively. Imagine if there were no trailers or TV spots available for films and all they had was OOH creative.  How would they convey the story and what type of impact would they have on sales. If there were a way to deduce who will win the box office race based on OOH alone, this would be a compelling fight.

Paramount  effectively began a campaign that was tied more to the essence of the film than the actual marketing of the film.  There were numerous very large depictions of Sacha Baron Cohen as the Dictator as if he was actually the Dictator of Los Angeles.  Whether it was the depiction of him winning sports awards in a place that is usually reserved for Kobe Bryant or another professional athlete on the side of the Figueroa Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles:

Or, the portrait of him holding the bird of prey in a placement on La Brea in central Los Angeles, Paramount (with considerable input from Cohen and his team) they were able to make a strong presence work without even including the film’s title in a readable form.

They then went on to start putting up some great OOH creative that included the title, but it was easily 6-8 weeks after launching the campaign that they made that jump. It might not be until people actually see the film that they understand the brilliance of the campaign in the way it ties into the narrative of the film. I’m sure it was not a simple approval process to get very long lead in prominent spaces with no mention what it was actually about.  Props to them for taking the risk and pulling that off.

On the Universal side for BATTLESHIP, they went big as well.  Their challenge was in the conveyance of how a board game logically makes a movie.  I don’t believe that their OOH solves the challenge.  They do convey that it is an alien encounter movie with awesome forms of destruction, but until the end, that was about it. They did have a huge placement near Hollywood and Highland that seems to convey the scale of a Summer blockbuster:

But the execution that really excites me is the dimensional billboard that is placed as if in a standoff with the DICTATOR portrait on La Brea.  They actually face each other.  The details are really cool:

What is most interesting is that it seems like the studio’s marketers did a late push to bring some character development into the OOH with a bunch of character pieces coming in late in the campaign.

All in, I don’t know if this will draw many more viewers because they came late in the game and we still don’t know much about the characters.  I wish that they had even listed their names to generate some kind of interest.

For BATTLESHIP, I was just mostly impressed with the dimensional billboard because it was so eye-grabbing.  I think there may be some answers about how the film is tied closely to the game once people see the film, but the big question is whether people will actually go see it.

Its a much larger discussion and deeper bit of knowledge required to establish whether people would see a big action film because it is there.  It’s the same when trying to judge whether people will do the same for a comedy. In both cases, there have been many more misses than hits and it definitely depends on many factors.  But all things being equal – same release date and equally solid OOH creative – which one does a better job of drawing audiences.  Perhaps we will be able to connect the dots after we see opening weekend box office, but I would put my money on THE DICTATOR.  In this face off, who do you think will win the fight?


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