So Nice ‘Youth’

Wednesday, June 16 2010
So Nice ‘Youth’

Most marketing departments and design agencies are only too well aware of the scenario. You’ve completed two, three or four or more different versions of a sleeve for a DVD release, and you canvass opinion in the easiest way possible – you hold them up and ask people what they prefer.

It’s familiar scene played out across the industry week in week out. And while it may not always be the case at the studios any more – where the creative elements are more often than not created in LA by the parent company and sent as digital files to be localised for the UK –UK-based companies, the independents and the likes of Momentum, Lionsgate, Optimum, Revolver and Metrodome, still spend a great deal of time, effort, energy and, invariably, money too ensuring the sleeve is just right for the UK home entertainment market.

Canvassing opinion is all part of that process, but it is rare for a company to go out and extensively research its creative for the UK sleeve among the populace. Yes, some companies may go out and test audiences’ response to the films themselves, using exit polls, focus groups and wider polls to see what people think of the film, but the artwork as well?

That, however, is just what  Momentum has done for its June 12 release of the Michael Cera starring comedy Youth In Revolt.

It took five different creatives for the sleeve to almost 300 members of a bespoke panel of entertainment enthusiasts (a sample that took in all age ranges and both male and female), asking them what they all thought.

Momentum, of course, has a proud track record in this sector. Take, for example, its work on Zombie Virus On Mulberry Street, where its own staff and assorted buyers dressed up as zombies for big budget artwork on a relatively low budget film. That proved that it is ready to spend on getting a sleeve right. And while the bulk of the budget on that went on a photoshoot, for Youth In Revolt Momentum spent its money on working up five sleeves and then on detailed research.

Carried out by Eyeball Research, it went from initial response to the sleeves on offer – a gut feeling if you like – through to their more specific feeling about the images, as well as more specific questions, about the feelings engendered by the artwork, how each worked within the genre, how the separate sleeves presented the stars and also the impact of more detailed elements.

These included the horns and halos used to represent Cera’s character Nick Twist and his mischievous alter-ego Francois Dillinger.

Perhaps most important of all, it gauged their initial perception of the film, how the sleeve affected that and, crucially, the propensity to actually buy the release.

Of the five offered up, one showcased all the actors, and played up the humour; the second version was simpler, just featuring the two Cera characters, with a girl between them; the third was the theatrical key art, which had an almost portrait feel to it, featuring just one Cera and the girl; the fourth, based on the US DVD artwork, a wider ensemble cast. The fifth and final  – as pictured here – was striking in its portrayal of Cera’s dual identity, using a split personality theme  to signify the angel above and the devil below.

And this final version was clearly on top, both among the overall sample and the key younger target audience. It was deemed to be original, clearly signifying both elements of the plot and the genre.

It was that stand-out that helped it cut through the other versions, it clearly demonstrated it was a comedy and would have particular appeal to teens, bringing t alongside key titles in this arena, from American Pie through to Superbad and Juno.

“It’s more eye-catching and intriguing,” said one, and another respondent summed it up neatly: ““It very clearly lays out the differences between the two sides of his character and is visually simple and striking.”

All others had attributes in their favour, but it’s interesting to note that overall the respondents preferred less cast on the sleeve, preferring them instead to focus on the main characters, deeming this to be the most effective way of communicating the film’s plot, themes and genre.

Even more detailed analysis showed that the simple addition of the horns and halos on Cera’s character added a distinctive element of humour, as well as increasing stand-out.

The result? Research suggested that a healthy 29 per cent would be likely to consider buying Youth In Revolt, a figure that rose even further to 37 per cent among the target audience of 15 to 34-year-olds.

For Momentum it delivers what every strand of the campaign is aiming to provide. As Momentum’s Louisa Mitchell stated: “Our campaign will target young male DVD buyers in a really engaging way, with every element designed to deliver maximum stand out.”

The sleeve is just the beginning, TV advertising will back up Momentum’s belief in the film, while we loved its website idea (here) that gives consumers the chance to create their own dastardly lothario a la Dillinger.

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