If you watched the original Hangover, two things probably happened: 1) you probably busted a gut laughing and 2) some of the imagery in the photo montage at the end probably took you by complete surprise, completely pushing the envelope of anything you’ve seen.
That’s why I’m blown away by the little marketing stunt going into the second one. It has all the outrageous character of the first movie and made headlines immediately.
If you’re not up to speed with what’s going on, Warner Bros. sent a letter to all theaters showing the trailer to cease running it. Why? The trailer included a raunchy scene involving a monkey performing a simulated sexual act with a bottle which they snuck past the MPAA. Oops!
Whatever your feelings are about monkeys engaging in such activity, and I know that’s a hot-button issue, here are the marketing affects:
1) The movie received a ton of press. Many of the articles included the movie’s release date, priming the public and creating a ‘countdown’ effect for opening weekend, which has become more and more critical to a movie’s success.
2) Everyone’s going to be hunting around for the original Hangover 2 monkey trailer now that it’s banned. This will draw a ton of traffic to YouTube or whatever site it’s found on, introducing more people to the movie. As Bob Cialdini points out in his marketing classic Influence, scarcity drives demand.
3) The fact that the trailer got pulled for monkey business indicates that Hangover 2 promises to be just as outrageous if not more than the original. Much of the 1st movie worked because of sheer shock value – the message here is: “Guess what. This one’s going to be just as insane.”
Now, I don’t advocate putting banned material in your law firm marketing to draw attention. That will get you in a heap of trouble. But what I want to point out here is how differently great marketing people think about things and how they employ the levers of our media and news saturated society to generate effect.