Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Reel Promotion: Get Your Film Noticed

As a Chicago girl and film nerd, I’ve been lucky enough to see preview screenings of upcoming films in the windy city. Every so often, the studios provide promotional products to help make their film more memorable. Some items are traditional – posters, t-shirts – but others are a little more creative.

The Crazies is the Breck Eisner-directed remake of the 1973 horror classic about citizens in a small Iowa town that become insane and murderous when they’re exposed to a toxin in the water supply. It’s a remake in a season where remakes – though pervasive – are becoming less critically fashionable. The studio execs (more likely the overworked interns) gave away cool swag including an unbelievably creepy poster and water bottles.

Water bottles?

Yes, every water bottle had an Ogden Marsh label, the tiny fictional town where the film takes place. As you’re watching a movie where the townies become crazy (crazier than Midwest townies already are) from drinking the water, do you really want to be sipping out of a bottle that’s sure to spell your doom? If you’re a horror fan and love creative marketing, the answer is an unqualified YES.

I’ve blogged before about how effective “in-world” marketing campaigns can be for promoting entertainment products such as television shows like Chuck. The Ogden Marsh water bottle is the perfect product: appealing to a wide demographic (Water bottles fall under the “universal appeal” heading for all age groups and cultures), affordable, and memorable. Our very own custom Twist Cap Water Bottle must have appealed to a marketing executive somewhere!

A personalized t-shirt, our very favorite promotional product (after custom stress balls, of course), is another frequent choice for promoting films at preview screenings. Not only are t-shirts an affordable mobile billboard, but the item will be attached to a person who’s already seen and loved your product. That’s a walking AND talking advertisement that only costs a few bucks! The advantage to handing these shirts out at preview screenings is that the wearer has many opportunities to start conversations about the movie before it’s even out, building anticipation for the big release day.

The first shirt I received was for The Clash of the Titans. This shirt goes the more traditional route of simply putting the movie’s title across the front. Big and straightforward – that’s definitely a strong marketing choice. However, simply branding the shirt with the movie title may make the person feel a little bit whored out, especially if they’re not so crazy about the movie. Although my own shirt is in the wash, I found the same shirt for sale on eBay, which is pictured below. My only complaint for this particular shirt is that the material used is a little thin. However, the t-shirt I received as a baby doll fit, which is always a pleasant surprise when you’re a female receiving promotional shirts.

Release the Kraken!

Photo courtesy eBay user promo4cheap.

The second was for Going the Distance, an absolutely hilarious “romantic comedy” (I use that term loosely, because I don’t want you to associate it with dreck like Leap Year or Knight and Day) coming out at the end of August. The movie is wicked funny and – while somewhat formulaic – still has memorable characters and doesn’t quite follow the exact path of most romcoms. Anyway, enough fawning over the movie (okay, one more thing: you get to see Justin Long’s bare ass twice, okay, that’s it, promise, but seriously, go see this movie, it’s fantastic): the shirts were awesome as well. As you can see, the symbols on the front are recognizable and give the person checking it out an immediate sense of traveling: a good idea when you’re advertising a film about a long-distance relationship. There’s also the text in between that indicates the shirt is advertising a film (a comedy) and includes the tagline (meeting each other halfway).

It's been way too long since I've written about Justin Long.

Going the Distance opened in US theatres on September 3rd and opened internationally starting August 27th.

The film name and date are on the back, perhaps in print that’s slightly smaller that I personally (in all of my studio executive experience) would have chosen. However, the shirt itself is more attractive with bonus points for the bold color choices for the shirt and imprint.

It's been too long since I wrote about Justin Long.

Seriously, you need to go see this hilarious movie.

That’s the crux of a lot of promotional products: how do you get your logo out there without making the recipient just feel like another salesperson? This job is especially difficult when it comes to things like personalized t-shirts where frequency of use hinges on style and less challenging with something like a custom bandage dispenser where utility trumps look.

What do you think, dear readers? How do these promotional items stack up against other things you’ve seen for promoting movies and television shows? Are they items you’d wear dependent on your opinion of the product or are there other factors? Are you going to see Going the Distance for Justin Long’s bare ass or because of my recommendation (or both)? Sound off in the comments below!

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!


Image Credits


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. QLP Jill

    I haven’t had the chance to see any of these movies you mentioned, but now I’m intrigued even more! I wanted to see the “Clash of the Titans” remake so badly, but no one would go with me…sigh…

    Even if I despised the movie being promoted, I think I’d still be happy to receive a promotional product with the film name/date on it. Case and point: I own a Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe t-shirt that I received at a GameStop when the game came out, and I wear it all the time despite the fact that I didn’t care for the game. What can I say…I’m a sucker for free stuff! That just goes to show that movie t-shirts and swag are in-demand no matter what! 🙂

    I’m so jealous that you get to go to these premieres – what movie is next on your agenda?

  2. Scooby DOO!

    When producers / execs order custom items that relate to the plot or a character in the movie, rather than just a basic shirt with the movie name, the response is far greater and the marketing far more successful. Custom shaped stress balls, bobble heads, lunch pals, and magic cubes are a great examples of items that go beyond the basic, and create more demand and interest.

    Think SuperBad- Who would not want their own custom imprinted movie launch full color lunch-box to put their doodles in?

  3. QLP Kid

    I saw the crazies and that would have been awesome to have a water bottle like that!

    I’m with Jill on being jealous about your excursions you take to movie premiers! =)

  4. Bret Bonnet

    Jill you can HAVE my copy of “Clash of the Titans” on Blu-Ray for free.

    Jana, if I ever catch you wearing that shirt in the office I’m going to, within acceptable human resources standards of course, force you to change into ACCEPTABLE clothing. That movie was so BAD; almost as bad as “The Expendables”.

    I don’t get out very much, so rarely do I get to go swanky movie premieres like Jana does, but I have to admit, if I really liked a movie (“Dinner for Schmucks” anyone?) I definitely think I’d use it – but only as Jana pointed out, if the promotional piece (or imprint) is tasteful. Whatever happened to creative self promotions – gift on pack – when you purchase a new movie on DVD? I can’t recall the name of the film (I think it was a romance movie), but one time when out shopping for a movie I noticed one had a t-shirt included with the film. In some circles that could become a hot commodity, and best of all, adds VALUE to the purchase. I mean; who doesn’t like a free shirt, even if it only ends up being used as a wash rag (just like Jana’s “Clash of the Titans” t-shirt should be used for).

    Anyway, great post, and even though I’m married at all, I think next month is take your boss to a movie premiere month, so why not hook a brother up yo?!?!? 🙂 I’ll buy the popcorn!

  5. skelly

    I’m not a huge movie go-er but I am a sucker for free t-shirts. A giveaway like the Going the Distance shirt above would definitely make the concept of paying $10 for a movie and another $15 for popcorn and a soda way more appealing 🙂

  6. Jana

    Bret, there’s definitely no argument here on how terrible Clash of the Titans was. The shirt’s freaking adorable, though, and it’s actually in a baby doll cut – not the crappy boxy look that we ladies are usually stuck with for mass promotions. There’s another advantage of making sure your product is well designed; even though the recipient may hate the actual service/product you offer, you can still communicate the message on to someone who may not through an awesome PROMOTIONAL product.

    Or maybe people could just make movies that are less shitty.

    And as far as “bring your boss to a movie premiere” month, I might be able to hook you up on something in the future. You have been pretty generous about letting me have the spare promo items around the office…

  7. Bret Bonnet

    The movie would have to be PG or G. I scare too easy! 🙂

  8. Vin

    You are a great blogger. This post is an excellent example of quality content!

  9. Playstation 4

    Super article, thanks for submitting this!

  10. Stace Tan

    Thanks for your helpful Post, I hope you have a good day!

  11. JasonywRider

    Awesome blog thank you!

  12. Tym

    how are you?

    Awesome blog, great write up, thank you!

  13. Jamie Iomo

    Hi there

    Looking forward to your next post

  14. Bret Bonnet

    I just wanted to add that I saw the movie “Going the Distance” this past weekend and it’s got to be one of the most underrated movies I’ve ever watched.

    It’s funny, make that HYSTERICAL, thought provoking, and entertaining.

    Definitely a movie I plan on adding to my collection FULL TIME – despite the Justin Long ass shots.

    Great find Jana….

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