The International San Diego [Comic-Con](tag:1029427) conference is an orgy of consumerism, commercialism and apolitical superficiality which has seen the event rise from humble beginnings to a pop culture singularity. The Con is a mass celebration of the arts and pop culture that we all love so much, but most of all, SDCC is a huge melting pot of consumers and marketing giants ready to ship the latest content for a profit. This is hardly surprising as the event attracts an estimated 130,000 attendees and contributes in excess of $163 million to the local economy. The cultural phenom is, as Matthew Putz stated, "The ultimate merging of culture and commerce."
Thus it's easy to see why so many studios choose the event to debut new trailers, content and announcements. Albeit one of the most lucrative events for studios, it is also one of the most competitive. With hundreds of thousands descending upon San Diego for the duration of the conference, what is key for the longevity and success of films beyond the event is their marketing strategies. Something that [American Ultra](tag:1165829) has not just capitalized upon, but absolutely nailed in its entirety. The marketing team behind Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg's upcoming stoner-comedy thought completely outside the box, paving a way to compete with the larger block buster announcements.
It all started with a relatively chill approach. Taking a creative approach with the medicinal status of marijuana in the state of California, a package was sent out to media outlets containing a redacted flier recruiting program participants. The flier directed people to 'The American Ultra Program' website - functional only on GPS-enabled smartphones - alongside a lighter and a jar. All pretty cryptic.
Now comes the crazy part: American Ultra was delivering SDCC patrons an exclusive strain of marijuana named after the film, along with some promo items via bike messenger to 14 locations throughout the city. There was a slight catch, though! In keeping with the law, patrons had to have a legal cannabis card allowing them to carry and consume small amounts of marijuana. But not to worry if you didn't have this specialized "green" card, the studio was still giving patrons an exclusive new clip from the film once you scanned the rolling papers or comic book cover with the Blippar app.
It was refreshing to see a studio take such a creative approach to marketing, breaking the mold and taking chances to think outside the box in such a fun and socially engaging way. Hollywood is currently facing a dilemma when it comes to marketing, especially its advertising. Some trailers are giving us very little - if anything - whilst on the other hand, some are giving away far too much. Something both Colin Trevorrow of Jurassic World, and Alan Taylor of Terminator Genisys took issue with. Hopefully we can expect to see more stunts and creative PR campaigns from studios in the future!
Below is the official synopsis for the stoned action flick:
A stoner and his girlfriend’s sleepy, small-town existence is disrupted when his past comes back to haunt him in the form of a government operation set to wipe him out.
Hitting theaters August 21st, [American Ultra](tag:1165829) will star Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Walton Goggins, Connie Britton, Bill Pullman, and Tony Hale, and will be directed by Nima Nourizadeh.