John What? The Importance of Good Marketing by Heather C. Coman

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This is an interesting article because it comes from outside the “movie universe” and is an observation on marketing i which the author articulates the idea that there was a lessons to be learned from John Carter.

by Heather C. Coman

Everywhere I go these days, everyone is talking about marketing. How to do it, how not. What works, what doesn’t. When you need it.

Which is always. Really. If you self publish, expect to market your heart out. If you are lucky enough to get a publishing contract, still expect to market because the publishing companies won’t spent the money unless you’re Stephen King or the equivalent there to.

But, you say, what if I go for word of mouth. I’ll tell my friends, they’ll tell some friends, and some more friends, and tweet a bit, and I’ll sell a bunch of books.

Well, in a way, that’s marketing. But, you also have to sell the right kind of book to the right kind of friends. If you write romance and all your friends love romance, great. If you write hard science fiction and all your friends love hard science fiction, great. If you write romance and all your friends love hard science fiction… yeah, problem.

I’m getting to a point here. Or rather, a case study. You have to market the right story to the right people in terms they understand. Or it all goes wrong. And my example for today is my favorite movie of the year, the movie touted as a flop from day one, Disney’s John Carter.

“John what?”

Yeah, I can see a lot of people saying that.

“Oh, is that the poster with the funky JC imposed over a wasteland shot, or that thing with the big white hairy monster?”

Yeah, I can see a lot of people saying that too. Because that’s how John Carter was advertised. The images were simple, told you nothing except it was and action flick with lots of CGI, and 10 to 1 you didn’t remember the preview by the time you left the theater after the movie you came to see.

There’s no merchandise for John Carter, no tie in with Disney. So it can’t have been a big deal right? We know how Disney advertises big movies. Look at the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

Read the rest.


  • “So what went wrong? Disney didn’t advertise to the fans, didn’t advertise in a manner that would let the critics understand the source, or encourage everyday movie goers to give the classic a try. They advertised it like another Conan movie, and no one got it.

    Until they got to the theater. Oh, some people hate it. There’s always someone who hates a given movie. But most people, once they get past the bland advertising, are flabbergasted to find its really just “a good movie”.”

    Resounding marketing lesson: embrace the property unashamedly.

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