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Parodies Make Disney’s Marketing for “The Muppets” Some of the Best I’ve Seen

November 21, 2011

By John C.

Disney’s marketing for The Muppets is some of the best that I have ever seen.  I don’t say this because you can’t go a single day without seeing the film advertised, but because of the genuine inventiveness with which it has targeted a certain audience.  The marketing of a movie is rarely this much fun.

The studio has pulled out all the stops in pushing for “Muppet Domination.”  From parody trailers and brightly coloured posters to the hilarious “please don’t spoil the movie by adding your own soundtrack” ad before all shows at AMC theatres, The Muppets have been everywhere over the last little while.  With our reviews coming on Wednesday, it seems like the perfect time to compile my thoughts on all of these brilliant little pieces of marketing for one of the best movies of the year.

The first trailer for The Muppets was released in May with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, under the title Green with Envy.  Made to look like a sweet romantic-comedy starring the delightful pair of Jason Segel and Amy Adams, it did a good job of showing us the joyful exuberance of the film.  The second trailer dropped a few weeks later to coincide with the release of The Hangover Part II.  Under the pseudonym The Fuzzy Pack, it took a somewhat darker approach with lingering shots of the abandoned Muppet studios.  What’s interesting about this one is that it actually includes a brief cameo from Wanda Sykes and Danny Trejo that didn’t make it into the final film.

A few weeks later, Green Lantern was the source of parody with Being Green.  Paraphrasing the classic mantra of the superhero to hilarious effect, this trailer confirmed to us that the film was “not in Swedish.”  But the best parody trailer was The Pig With the Froggy Tattoo.  Made with the same sort of kinetic editing that made the trailer for David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo so brilliant, they washed out the colour and showed clips of the film that fit perfectly in time with the music.  Playing like the best of YouTube mash-ups, this was just an unbelievably brilliant piece of work.

But perhaps the most unabashedly brilliant was the one that parodied the trailer for Green with Envy.  “Are we doing a parody of our own parody trailer?” says a confused narrator in a moment of Inception-style brilliance, before we are given a montage of clips for everything from Fuss in Boots to Breaking Prawn.  It’s rare that we see a trailer this ingeniously conceived.  The equally great posters that have come over the last few months also deserve recognition.  Pictured to the right and left of this article, you can see delightful Muppet parodies of everything from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to superhero movies Green Lantern and Captain America: The First Avenger.

The brilliant part of it all is that Disney has targeted a certain demographic with these trailers.  They have all been made directly for an audience that remembers the Muppets, and also for young adults who would watch trailers for films like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Hangover Part II.  What they haven’t done is made trailers that market the film directly to kids, because they aren’t the market that needs to be sold on buying a ticket.  If you market a film like this to a slightly older audience, then you bring in a whole demographic of people who might not otherwise see a big holiday release of this magnitude.

The thing about marketing is that it can be a very tricky business.  If you hit the wrong target demographic, then you could make a flop out of a seriously great movie.  Other ones practically sell themselves by being a part of an already successful franchise.  Disney is in a particularly interesting place with The Muppets because it does feature characters that are already beloved by many audiences, but these same characters haven’t packed the crowds into a theatre in quite some time.  Even if none of this pans out to make The Muppets the hit it deserves to be at the box office, Disney should give the marketing team a raise because these last few months have given us some of the most entertaining trailers and posters that I have ever seen.

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