March 11, 2023 Maggie Griffin

The Stories We Tell: Movie Posters & B2B Marketing

And the Oscar goes to …

Awards for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Styling, Best Cinematography will be handed out on Sunday, March 12 at The 95th Academy Awards. The nominees in all these categories work tirelessly to infuse their respective films with the energy, look, and feel needed to translate the story beyond the screen into something much more tangible and memorable. But even before the movie, the poster design and the marketing of the film give us a major clue into what’s to come. The Oscars doesn’t award Best Poster Design or Best Marketing, so we took it upon ourselves to look at the nominees and see if there were any worthy candidates for this accolade.

Reviewed by Graphic Designer Maggie Lemley

The design elements of Elvis had to appeal to two distinct audiences: both the audience that witnessed Elvis’ career in real-time and the audience that knows him only by his legacy. They took design elements from the 50s, 60s and 70s and managed to balance a level of nostalgia with a fresh and exciting energy. This impressed and entertained younger generations while simultaneously giving older generations a sense of nostalgia for the Elvis of their time. Elvis’ vibrant and colorful outfits were attention-grabbing, standing out against modern performers’ fashion, while also maintaining the authenticity and originality that excited fans and non-fans alike. As promo for the film, they teased images of Elvis’ iconic looks and the figure of the actor playing Elvis (Austin Butler) complete with Vegas-style glitz and glamour. The marketing for the film left me in such anticipation to see it, and it did not disappoint.

“The Batman”
Reviewed by Graphic Designer Spencer Hopkins

Robert Pattinson’s incarnation of the Batman was an amazing standout. Simply from a design perspective, this film was incredibly well put together. I echo those who have said this before—there was not a single frame from the film that couldn’t be printed out and hung on the wall as a poster. The highly artistic cinematography was reflected extremely well in the official posters for the movie, which effectively captured the mood of the film while also honoring the heritage of the Batman legacy. The modern content and subjects of the film are laid out in such a way that beautifully recalls the illustrative styles of legendary poster illustrators such as Richard Amsel and Drew Struzan.

This film is, refreshingly, not an origin story. No strands of pearls bouncing on the pavement, no flashbacks to a scared boy trying to cope. Instead, this film has a new focus. We follow Bruce Wayne as he learns how to be Batman. We see him get his bearings, struggle with things, and learn from his early mistakes, which is something that most superhero movies tend to skate over. They would much rather portray the hero as infallible and thoroughly competent, but this new take is a fresh look at the human side of a superhero who is, after all, just a man.

From every angle, this film was a knockout, and come Sunday, we’ll know if The Batman wins in any of its nominated categories – Best Sound, Best Hair and Makeup, and Best Visual Effects. Although we may collectively be feeling tired of the superhero genre as a whole, this poster will stay on my wall as one of my favorites for some time to come.

Reviewed by Associate Creative Director Jake Hicks

Todd Field, a name that strikes fear in the heart of anybody in a stable marriage (dare we discuss 2006’s ‘Little Children?’), has once again delivered to his adoring fan an Oscar-worthy masterpiece with “Tár”.

The marketing of “Tár” was minimal at best. The psychological-drama-comedy’s (physocomdram if you will) poor performance in the box office, garnering a paltry $158,620 its opening weekend in the U.S., is a testament to its marketing material lack of mass appeal. Though, it is worth a discussion if the film was meant for mass consumption at all. In a post-Covid world, art houses and small theaters that would normally celebrate such a high-brow concept film, have shuttered their doors in the last few years, an estimated 40% decline in small theaters since 2020. With the data on our side, it wasn’t hard to predict such a low turnout in a mass market, even with the name “Blanchette” blazoned in yellow on its otherwise minimal poster.

Perhaps the marketing department of Focus Features understood that the target market for “Tár” was never going to come out in droves to their local cineplex, and instead used what budget they could to focus targeted advertising to those who would ultimately consume it the most, home streamers. Regardless of intention, it’s not hard to make the stretch that the poor performance is linked to its minimal if not total lack of mass marketing.

But still, despite its uphill battle with the common man, the tour-de-force against new societal trends that is “Tár” did garner overwhelmingly positive reviews from both critics and filmgoers alike. And ultimately earned accolades including high praise from Leonardo Dicaprio’s biggest fan, Martin Scorsese.

So while it’s easy to look at Tár from the outside and deem it a commercial failure. Given that it failed to attract the attention, of well, anybody. Perhaps its greatest success is that the mystique created by its minimal use of advertising, allows its real target audience to seek it out as a reward from the otherwise mundane.

To quote Indiewire’s David Ehrlich, “Tár” will probably gross all of $57 at the box office (give or take), but everyone who buys a ticket will be inspired to destroy their own German orchestra from the inside out, or at least write a thinkpiece about why.”

“Everything Everywhere All At Once”
Reviewed by Creative Director Maggie Griffin

Big, bold, in-your-face text. An explosion of vibrant red, with debris flying. A trio of figures, whose clothing I can’t pin to a certain era but that read as commonplace, in at-the-ready stances. A mysterious figure in the back, hands positioned as if they have brought about this chaos and are reveling in power. All that in one poster. What am I to infer from all this? This is a story with many moving parts, involving characters who may not expect to embark on the journey that will take place but are nevertheless, prepared to face what challenges are to come.

In a second poster, the motion comes in the positioning of the various characters around a circle at the center of the poster. Chinese characters and symbols, Pomeranians and raccoons, missiles and gas masks, eyeballs and psychedelic swirls of colors are strewn about a cast of characters. The individuals in this poster seem to be involved in their own worlds, but their placement in the circular motion, tells us that these stories will all be woven together in some way. The main character is shown twice; at the bottom of the poster, her gaze is lifted and her arms are open, light streaming from behind and above her; directly above, she is now positioned upside down at the top of the poster, in meditation, light coming from her. Can she be both of these things? Can we be searching for something and find out that that very thing exists within us? Is it the people we encounter that take us on this journey? These are questions the poster offers, but does the movie answer?

The actors in this film have been sweeping up awards at the pre-Oscars ceremonies. I expect it’s because the film delivered on the message first brought to viewers in these posters. While they stylistically contrast each other, there is a similar story being offered in these visuals, and I’d happily award the designers for their effective storytelling.

B2B Branding & Movie Posters

Just as movie posters and the visuals used in the marketing of a movie are used to engage audiences and communicate the story, the designs we create, from social media posts, to blog headers, to tradeshow banners, help to tell the story of our client’s businesses. Like some movie posters, graphics can end up being a big miss and poorly communicate a story, leaving people in total confusion. But, like the best movie posters, graphics can intrigue and excite a potential viewer and get them engaged in the story and leave them wanting more. It is our responsibility to our clients to thoroughly understand their audiences, the accurate imagery associated with their professions, and the ins and outs of graphic design in order to deliver a story with each content piece. It’s a tall order, but that’s show business B2B Marketing, baby.

About the Author

Maggie Griffin Maggie Griffin, graphic design extraordinaire. Though she earned her degree in Medical Humanities from Baylor University, her love of design led her to seek out opportunities where she could put her creative talents to work. She is an entirely self-taught graphic designer and lettering artist with a teachable spirit and undying desire to learn more. Armed with gratitude for the role itself, Maggie carries a great deal of care for her work while also never failing to rise to the challenge of creating something new.

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