Pure Genius

While driving to the gym a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I passed a nondescript, white billboard with black lettering that read, “I’m SO over you Sarah Marshall.” We both looked at each other and said, “Do you think that is real?”

A couple of days later we saw another billboard that said, “You DO look fat in those jeans Sarah Marshall,” and we noticed a web address in the corner of the billboard www.ihatesarahmarshall.com. At this point we knew it had to be some sort of advertising campaign and decided to Google it when we got home… but we forgot.

So, the following week we saw another couple of billboards , “You SUCK Sarah Marshall” and “Mom ALWAYS hated you Sarah Marshall.” Seeing these ads reminded us to do a little research, so we looked up the web address from the billboards and came across this blog – which is another form of advertising for the upcoming movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

The blog is written from the perspective of Peter Bretter who happens to be one of the stars of the upcoming movie. He comes across as a somewhat bitter and dejected man who is struggling to get over his ex (the premise of the movie), and it is rather “real” in appearance… just another ingenious little “hook” to get the readers to buy-in to the movie and associate with the character.

As I did more research I came across a Flickr group managed by “Peter Bretter” as well as his YouTube channel and a news story about the advertisements in North Texas. There is also TONS of discussion across the web about the billboards and the upcoming movie. Way to build interest, you sneaky advertising execs!

I think this has got to be one of the absolute coolest and best ad campaigns I have ever seen (I know some of you might not like the “meanness” of the campaign, but I am talking about the concept). The billboards grab your attention and make you curious, the blog builds your curiosity and your sympathy for the author, and then you find out that it is all about a movie. It has just been this week that I have begun to see the movie advertised in the traditional way… on television, and apparently the movie is set to open on April 18th. INGENIOUS!

I am betting the movie does quite well at the box office because the advertisers have certainly marketed to their intended audience… as well as interesting people who may not have been intrigued by just a movie trailer.

I also think the ad campaign can be a HUGE teaching tool in the classroom when information literacy is discussed… although the blog and billboards look “real,” they are really just advertising gimmicks. With the popularity of Youtube, social networks, online news magazines, etc. our students are certainly going to need to be able to differentiate between what is “real,” what is propaganda, and what is advertising. They need to be able to research and validate “authentic” sources and, with this ad campaign, it is clear that the lines between “real” and fictitious may continue to blur.

So, have any of you seen the ads? What do you think?

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Explore posts in the same categories: advertising, Information Literacy, Sarah Marshall

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