If you've watched the trailers and commercials for Pixar's Brave, you have one specific idea of what the movie is about. But when you go watch the film you'll discover there's a lot of stuff that has been kept from you - and it was all on purpose. (No, I won't spoil what happens in the second act that changes things up, even though I don't think it's much of a spoiler). According to director Mark Andrews that secretive marketing isn't about hiding something, it's about rewarding you, the audience.
[The audience is] investing in the real dilemma, which is this parent/child dynamic we know isn’t working. At the end of the movie it has to work. All of the twists and turns that support that story - that’s the present to the audience. If you’re coming to see this film basically because you know there’s going to be action and adventure in it and it’s about this young woman who is going to find herself and there’s a dilemma with her parent, you’re already invested in that character. Everything else is gravy. We wanted that experience to be a gift to the audience. We’re going through the story as Merida is going through it. It’s like handing your kid a present on Christmas Day and going, “I got you that Tie Fighter you wanted.” There would be no fun unwrapping that present!
For Andrews a marketing campaign should be one thing and one thing only: act one of the story.
Let the audience be invested in act one, which as a storyteller and a moviegoer, if you’re not interested in act one, you don’t care what comes next. If I can get you by act one, you’re good to go, and that’s what every trailer should be.
Being Pixar helps when trying to get your marketing done your way, but even then there are battles.
[W]e still had to fight with Disney about how much to show and how little to show. We were very adamant about it. To the marketing people out there there isn’t a lot of trust in letting the movie or an element of the movie speak for itself to get people in. Since when did audiences need to have the whole story to decide whether or not to see it? It still baffles my mind, and I’m glad we have our marketing the way it is, where we don’t give it away like they gave away Iron Giant.
Andrews worked on Iron Giant, just so you know.
Brave is a very interesting model for this argument. I think that many of you would agree with Andrews that you only want to see act one stuff in trailers - but I wonder how the buzz on the movie would be different if elements from act two were used in the marketing. If Brave doesn't do blockbuster numbers this weekend will the marketing people at Disney feel vindicated?