What’s to love about hating Sarah Marshall

March 21, 2008 at 5:03 pm 1 comment

Judi Schindler

In Chicago, you can’t help running into billboards that say “I am so over you, Sarah Marshall,” or “My mom always hated you, Sarah Marshall,” or cruelest of all, “You do look fat in those jeans, Sarah Marshall.”

So I bit. I went to www.ihatesarahmarshall.com to see what new promotional strategy was in play. What I found was a very engaging social marketing campaign for the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall, starring Jason Segal (who plays Marshall on How I Met Your Mother) and Kristen Bell (best known for the title role in Veronica Mars).

The Web site purports to be a MySpace/Facebook site for Peter Bretter, a 26-year-old television composer. It lists his “Likes” (Muppets, Broadway Musicals) and “Dislikes” (Sarah Marshall Fan Club, people who mispronounce Dracula) and daily blogs since February 28, which chronicle his breakup with Sarah Marshall.

My favorite blog entries are camcorder videos that show Peter disintegrating from self-delusion to drunken despair. Daily entries keep viewers coming back for more.

I am not alone in taking notice of the campaign. The Slash Film blog had a posting a couple of days ago that calls the campaign “genius.” The NBC affiliate in Dallas ran a segment. And blogger Shandy King thought it was a novel way to promote a movie.

This kind of “teaser” campaign is actually not new. I remember Folgers Coffee’s introduction to Chicago decades ago, supported by billboards and newspapers ads for at least a month boasting “I will bring a mountain to Chicago – Captain Folger.”

What is new is the very targeted and integrated approach to reaching the 20-something marketplace. The billboards are concentrated on bus shelters and train platforms, which are heavily used by this demographic. Personal Web pages and blogs are still primarily “young” media. And the youthful language/humor helps create buzz among the target market.

The Sarah Marshall campaign reminds us that every marketing program geared to populations under the age of 40 (40 being the new 30) should have a strong Web component. Furthermore, it never hurts to entertain as well as inform. The use of humor can increase the number of people you reach exponentially, as your message gets passed along from one potential customer to another. Then the whole thing takes on a life of its own when you attract coverage from newspapers, TV and talk radio, not to mention blogs like this.


Entry filed under: Advertising, New/Social Media. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Bianca Reagan  |  March 26, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    The campaign is obnoxious and misogynistic, as are Judd Apatow’s recent movies. “My mom always hated you, Sarah Marshall”? “You do look fat in those jeans, Sarah Marshall.”? What is that about?


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