How Cloverfield revolutionized film marketing

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There was a time, not too long ago, when movie trailers helpfully unpacked the entire plot of a movie, sometimes spoiling every twist. Movie ads vary wildly in effectiveness, everyone has missed a good movie because of a bad trailer or been tricked into something terrible with solid marketing. But every once in a while, there comes one that changes the landscape.

Cloverfield was directed by Matt Reeves, now much better known for his portrayal The Batmanand written by Drew Goddard, creator of daredevil and director of cabin in the woods. Despite this, the film was mostly portrayed in relation to producer JJ Abrams and his controversial Mystery Box technique.

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The marketing for Cloverfield began in February 2007. Abrams reportedly came up with the project while reviewing Godzilla toys in Japan. Paramount quietly greenlit the project under its current title, but the production changed its name several times to conceal its direction. The title Cloverfield was derived from the name of the exit Abrams took every morning to get to work. They released other titles during production, including granita, cheese, and Greyshotbut the production had so much hype behind it, the studio had to stick to Cloverfield. Production was deliberately kept away from online publications, an impressive feat even in the 2000s. Concept designer Neville Page designed the monster, but many of his more intricate ideas didn’t make it to life. ‘screen. Of course, not showing the monster is part of the film’s marketing genius.



CloverfieldThe first teaser for is one of the smartest commercials in recent cinema. He was attached to the first Transformers movie and became more popular and iconic than the movie. It is made up of handheld camera footage, recorded separately from the film content. It documents a party in a New York apartment that is suddenly interrupted by a violent earthquake. The whole crowd rushes outside to see a massive explosion. The city is thrown into chaos, people scream in the streets, then the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty slides across the street. The trailer ends with the date, January 18, 2008, and no title. This clever lack of information left people everywhere speculating wildly, and it fueled the conversation with immense fervor.


The title was dropped with an ad attached to the 2007s Beowulf, but there were countless theories and guesses as to where the film was headed at that time. Some have hinted that the mysterious beast originated from the work of HP Lovecraft. Others have suggested the studio is attempting another American adaptation of Godzilla. The most hilarious incorrect assumption came from a misheard line in the trailer. A terrified onlooker exclaimed “I saw it, it’s alive, it’s huge!”, but some onlookers were convinced they had heard “I saw it, it’s a lion, it’s huge !”. This led them to speculate that Paramount’s follow-up to Transformers would be live action Voltron movie. Sadly, audiences never got to see Matt Reeves’ theoretical horror Voltron movie. But behind the scenes, work on Cloverfield didn’t stop with smart trailers.


The studio created MySpace pages for each main character, for some reason. The film’s official website was 1-18-2007.com, and it contained a handful of mysterious stills from the film. There was a cell phone number that viewers could text to receive a ringtone of the monster’s roar and a phone background of the destroyed city. A fictional soft drink called Slusho! was released occasionally alongside the film, and its fake website regularly sent viewers sonar feeds of the monster approaching Manhattan. ARG fans were constantly trying to find out more about the film. These online experiences kept audiences engaged and guessing throughout the film’s production. Its eventual release was a weird payoff, it made a ton of money, but some were disappointed with the fairly simple answer to the many questions raised.



10 Cloverfield Lane characters together

the Cloverfield The franchise has continued to use similar strategies to market its films, hiding huge chunks of content and relying on that mystery to sell the film. It didn’t pay off as well with the sequels, but 10 Cloverfield Lane is an undisputed high point for the franchise. During the same period, Christopher Nolan The black Knight used a similar online strategy to give audiences their first look at Heath Ledger’s Joker. paranormal activity was acquired by Paramount after its original release and its trailers were extremely similar to Paramount’s strategy with Cloverfield. dead Pool had a long marketing campaign that started with leaked images, went through online stunts, and involved comedic and racy billboard ads. There are plenty of horror movies out there that base their entire sales pitch on hiding their central monster, for better or for worse.

Cloverfield wasn’t the first viral marketing campaign. the Blair Witch Project made himself massive with similar techniques. The terrible 90s GodzillaThe only good idea was a series of advertisements proclaiming the massive size of the terrible new design. Corn Cloverfield modernized the approach, made it popular and used it to achieve success. It’s hard to imagine a successful film today, but it was still impressive fifteen years ago.

MORE: Do Cloverfield, Signs and A Quiet Place share the same universe?


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