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TMNT and Marketing for Dummies

tmnt-560-103811So this morning, Paramount tweeted out their new Ninja Turtle movie poster and then after they got some flack, immediately pulled down the tweet and recalled the poster.

Ok, three guesses… without reading anything else first (from this blog or elsewhere on the internets), what is wrong with this movie poster? (You can click on it to see it larger) Write it down… ok, now lets talk about it.

So I’m personally of the opinion that in making art, nothing is off the table. You should be able to be as offensive as you want in the name of artistic expression. One of these days I’m totally going to make a movie where Jesus is portrayed by a 67-year-old cuban lesbian and rapes baby seals and there’s going to be a big sign over her head that says “World Peace” and I’ll totally be seen as a visionary. You know…  years after I’m dead of course. But the thing is, marketing is not art. The job of your marketing department is to trick the masses into thinking “hey, I have to see this movie. I bet it awesome” even if the movie is a complete piece of shit.

So really, let’s think about this. The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is probably going to be kind of shitty. Here’s how we know…

1) the last several TMNT movies were really kind of shitty.

2) It’s being produced by Michael Bay, who I actually LOVE sometimes (Bad Boys and Bad Boys 2 are a couple of the best movies ever!!!). Actually, I thought it was being directed by Michael Bay, until I started writing this blog entry and looked it up. It’s only being produced by him. Which is to say, that Michael Bay, of all people, actually said “you know what…  I’m going to pass on that script.” Anyway, Bay is fun to bash, but I think he does have his place in the world. What he is looking to do he does very well, but lets not pretend that he actually is even remotely interested in making quality cinema here. Which is why he cast…

transformers 63) Megan Fox stars in it. You don’t cast Megan Fox for her acting ability. You cast her so that guys will come to your movie and go “oh my god, Megan Fox! I bet you I’m going to see some titty in this!” Granted, this defies all logic. She’s never posed nude. She probably won’t be anytime soon. Even Jennifer’s Body, a movie that has no redeeming qualities whatsoever other than obviously it’s written so that we can see naked Megan Fox, she doesn’t actually get naked. She certainly isn’t going to in a movie that is auspiciously targeted at children like TMNT. So really what you’re looking for is a scene like in Transformers 2 (also directed by Michael Bay) where we first see her kneeling prone on the back of a motorcycle literally inviting the viewer to fuck her doggy style. Either that or she’s attempting to actually fornicate with the bike itself, which seems ridiculous, but this is Transformers and Michael Bay, so you never know. In any case, clearly the message here is “hello heterosexual middle-aged men in the audience. We are sorry that you have been dragged to this movie by your children. Here is something just for you…now discretely excuse yourself to the bathroom for some alone time…” Three cheers for the male gaze!

4) My god… have you seen the trailer?!?!?

That’s quality dialog right there!!!

Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtles-2014-Movie-Poster4So anyway, back to the movie poster. Movie posters are supposed to be iconic. Comic geeks and children already know about the movie. They’re as sold on it as they are going to get. So you don’t really need to market to them. That means your poster should be something either iconic and mysterious that generates some buzz  or it should be something sexy or exciting that makes people who don’t know what TMNT say “oh, I need to find out more about that!” This original poster is a good start. I look at it and if I don’t know that it’s Raphael’s hand and sai, I go “What is that?!?!?! I need to look into this!”

But lets go back to the new poster. The one linked to the top of this page. The top 75% of it is ok I guess. “Oh look, it’s the Turtles! And they’re jumping from an exploding building! That’s kind of exciting I guess.” And then you get to the bottom you see the most problematic thing . Did you notice the new release date for the film? September 11th! Here’s the thing. You don’t get to make a movie poster featuring an exploding skyscraper with a release date of September 11th. You just don’t! I mean, ok, maybe this might not even occur to most people. Maybe enough time has passed that the marketing department just saw it as another day. And yay, we’re healing as a nation.

Except we’re not! This is a shit storm waiting to happen. (and it is happening) and it’s the marketing department’s job to say “hey! this might be a bad idea!” Paramount has since pulled the poster. But seriously…. what the fuck were they thinking in the first place?

Really, the original series of turtle hand posters were great. I say go back to those. Those will grab your die-hard comic fans because they’ll go “oh my god! that looks awesome this movie will be cool as shit!!!!” But those guys were going anyway. If you really want to sell the movie, here’s my suggestion. Try something like this:


Yes, I realize my version of the poster doesn’t have Donatello on it. Actually it does, it’s just that he ended up being right behind Megan and it would have been too much work to move him. And really, for the marketing segment the poster is made for, do you even care?


18 comments for “TMNT and Marketing for Dummies

  1. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Oh my

  2. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    The Yankees button on Leonardo’s sash?

  3. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    What *isn’t* wrong with this poster?

  4. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I posted the excerpt backwards… read the whole blog and you’ll see what’s wrong with it.

  5. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    I spotted the “official problem” right away… even before I got to the release date. I thought the somewhat humanoid figure disintegrating in mid-air (just below Don’s staff) was a particularly bad touch.

  6. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    there… Facebook link fixed.

  7. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    You have not addressed the obvious need to transform that towel into a slice of pizza.

  8. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Brigid, you are officially hired as my assistant marketing director.

  9. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Events happened almost 13 years ago, it’s entirely possible that a person of, say, 22 years would have very little idea about the cultural impact. However, a person with no awareness of cultural history has about as much business in marketing as a person with no math skills does in engineering.

  10. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    i have a hard time believing that a 22 year old is in charge of marketing for a paramount franchise with this big a budget. And yes, exactly… regardless of their age, the entire point of having people in charge of these things is to think about stuff like that.

  11. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Yeah, I realized as I was writing it just how stupid that would be. And yet we have that movie poster.

  12. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Um….my real job is Marketing Manager. I’m not sure if that’s a step up or down, but I don’t like the Assistant label. Better give yourself a promotion and pop me in as Director.!

  13. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    That works for me.

  14. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 4:53 pm


  15. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    If the movie was released on a Tuesday in March it is a building. A September 11 release means a grown up at the studio was not paying attention when they approved it.

  16. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Yeah. That’s my point?

  17. avatar
    July 29, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    I read it was as an Australian poster. Is it possible that contributed to the oops?

  18. avatar
    July 30, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    September 11th isn’t a big deal in Australia. Not everyone celebrates our holidays

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