5 Best Summer Movie Marketing Campaigns of 2014

We love the movies. Especially summer movies. When they’re good, summer movies are joyous escapism at its finest. Just a fun couple hours lost in pure imagination and a bucket of popcorn.

And almost as interesting as the summer movies themselves, is the marketing that draws us to them. 

Last summer, we released our inaugural list of Summer Movie Marketing Winners & Losers. Today, we’re going back to the well for our second annual list. Except this time we decided to focus solely on the winners.

So without further ado, here’s the list…

2014 Summer Movie Marketing Winners

Here are our picks for best summer movie marketing in order of release date:

Neighbors

Sometimes simplicity is the best marketing strategy. And so it was with Neighbors, which boiled its premise down to three words: Family vs. Frat.

 

Neighbors Movie Marketing

 

For a comedy that’s all you really need to know. And mixed with the marketing visuals focused on the two leads, a lot more was implied—old vs. young, slob vs. hunk, mundane vs. wild. That made the movie appeal to a wide audience, and resulted in a take of $150 million at the domestic box office.

Godzilla

We won’t go too deep here into the fantastic marketing for Godzilla since we already devoted an entire blog post to it. But we will say this is our pick for best all-around summer movie marketing of 2014. From this great teaser trailer that popped up way back in December…

 

To some creative guerilla marketing efforts spanning from Toronto to Japan…

 

Godzilla Guerilla Marketing in Toronto

Godzilla Guerilla Marketing in Japan

 

The marketing for Godzilla really made this movie seem like a must-see summer event. The result? A colossal opening weekend gross of $93 million.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn gets our vote for best  marketing use of a review call-out. You see movie marketing use review call-outs all the time, like “Four Stars” or “Powerful”. So much so that they’ve essentially lost their impact.

But Dawn found a line that encapsulated everything they wanted the audience to take away from their marketing in this review from The Hollywood Reporter.

 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Movie Marketing

 

When you get a line like that—which speaks so directly to the film’s target audience—you snatch it up like an ape going after a banana (sorry, couldn’t resist). That line definitely popped for us in the marketing. And apparently for others too, as Dawn has earned $205 million at the U.S. box office.

Lucy

If Neighbors had the best tagline of the summer, Lucy had the most compact messaging. Here’s what the marketing told us: (1) Scarlett Johansson. (2) Butt-kicking female protagonist. (3) She can use 100% of her brain! That’s all viewers needed to know to make Lucy the surprise hit of the summer.

 

Lucy Movie Poster

 

It’s pretty safe to say no one expected this movie to beat out the masculine action of The Rock in Hercules on opening weekend or go on to earn $114 million in the U.S. (and counting). But Lucy delivered. The film’s strong, clearly defined marketing campaign undoubtedly helped make that happen.

Guardians of the Galaxy

We’d be remiss if we did not include the summer’s biggest hit on this list. But Guardians earned its place here. While this is a Marvel movie, it’s one that came with a lot of question marks. Most viewers are not familiar with these characters (like they are other superheroes) and the film looked downright odd.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy marketing made the movie seem fun

 

So no one really knew how well this movie would do. One of our MONSTERS even questioned whether the film would find an audience on this episode of the Speaking Human podcast. He’ll spend the rest of the summer eating crow.

Obviously, Guardians of the Galaxy did find an audience (U.S. box office numbers stand at $265 million and still going strong). Give the marketing a lot of credit for that. They played up the Marvel brand, and didn’t shy away from the movie’s weirdness—with characters that include a raccoon and a tree.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy was not an easy marketing sell

 

Most importantly, his movie was a ton of fun, and the marketing put the fun front and center. As a result, Guardians dominated the summer movie galaxy.

Our Top Takeaway from Summer 2014 at the Movies

If there is a trend to be found here, it’s that the marketing for all these films managed to effectively boil the movies down to a single, simple message. A message that compelled a specific audience to take action. That’s something your business should aspire to with each and every marketing effort.

We’ll see you back here for next year’s list!