Marketing American Sports and Culture Abroad - Part 1
December 29, 20162 min read
The marketing of film through poster art has a clear track record of success in driving people to movie theaters. A film that is released worldwide needs to be able to bridge cultural differences in order to succeed internationally.
Let's consider a film like Wildcats from 1986. It is about a talented high school football coach who happens to be a woman. The film takes a humorous look at gender stereotypes and focuses on a sport that, in the mid 1980s, was an American phenomenon. The American poster for Wildcats features Goldie Hawn in aa dog pile of football players with a tagline "Her dream was to coach high school football. Her nightmare was Central High."
Now, let's see how the film was marketed in Argentina (a country where American football, not widely followed in the 1980s, has only recently gained in popularity):
There are many unusual things about this poster. It could not be more different than the American advertising campaign. At best, it can be interpreted as a slapstick moment from when the football player, while attempting to sexually harass his coach, gets a football hiked into his groin. Without the context of the film, the image is rather misogynistic without any context. The title of the film translates as Give Me the Ball, Woman.
Another example might be the poster for 48 Hrs. (1982). Here is the US version:
And here is an international version used in a few countries including France:
The French poster pushes boundaries that would never be crossed in American film marketing. This American cop action/comedy trades handcuffs on Eddie Murphy's character for a middle finger to the audience. And Nick Nolte's gun is now pointed out instead of holstered (in the American version). These differences say a lot about how marketers viewed the challenge of selling this film abroad.
There are hundreds of examples of this marketing quandary. It is just one small part of the fun and entertainment value found in movie posters